Key storylines, broadcast information and players to watch for ahead of Wednesday night's match between the Sounders and Dynamo at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders match day
Seattle Sounders (13-13-5) vs. Houston Dynamo (7-13-11)
7:30 p.m. Wednesday at CenturyLink Field
TV: JOEtv. Radio: KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM
Looking to clinch: A playoff spot that looked highly unlikely as recently as early August can be locked up by the Sounders with two matches to spare via a win against the Dynamo. Three points would take Seattle six points clear of seventh-place Portland and lock up the total-win tiebreaker over their Cascadian rivals.
When interim coach Brian Schmetzer took over from Sigi Schmid and Nicolas Lodeiro arrived from Boca Juniors, Seattle was 10 points below the playoff cutoff line. On Wednesday, the Sounders can complete their remarkable midseason revival, start looking ahead to an eighth consecutive postseason and take aim at a larger prize.
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Playing for seeding: While a postseason berth is all but assured barring a collapse that would be even more stunning than the turnaround, where currently-fifth-place Seattle fits into the bracket could still change drastically over the final week-and-a-half of the season.
It could still finish as high as third place and as low as seventh, though a spot in the four/five knockout round game looks likeliest — which means there should be plenty on the line when fourth-place Real Salt Lake comes to town for next weekend’s regular-season finale.
All the Sounders need is a draw against Houston to ensure that they’ll control their own destiny versus RSL, no matter how Sunday’s visit to first-place Dallas goes. Win both this week’s games, and the odds of a CenturyLink playoff game suddenly look very promising.
Given the disparity between home and away records in MLS and the tenuous nature of one-off elimination games, that is no small thing.
Dynamo down but not out: Houston has playing mostly for pride since mid-August yet has embraced the role of spoiler down the stretch.
In September alone, the Dynamo stole a point with a last-minute goal in Kansas City, upset Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium and drilled a nail into Portland’s coffin with an emphatic home win. Though Houston is also in last place in the West, it’s a tricker proposition than the Chicago team already going through the motions when it came to Seattle late last month.
“(Coach) Wade (Barrett) has done a good job with Houston,” Schmetzer said. “We were down there not too long ago. I’ve seen the things that have happened with his team. Even though their results might not be — they’re out of the playoff picture – that doesn’t mean he’s not going to do everything he can to prepare his team.”
Prediction: Sounders 3, Dynamo 0.