Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Dynamo face a must-win scenario on Sunday when the club closes its regular season slate against D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
Coming into the final match of the season, Houston sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points. To reach the postseason, they need to beat United and get some help from other results.
A victory over D.C. United will put the Dynamo up to 51 points and into the top five temporarily, but to stay there they need some help from other clubs. Houston will need to beat D.C. and hope that New England Revolution, Chicago Fire or Montreal Impact drop points in their final matches.
But the Dynamo, which suffered a disjointed 3-0 loss to Red Bull New York at BBVA Compass last week, aren't taking last-place United lightly.
Having already won the U.S. Open Cup and looking towards next season, United's players will be playing for spots on next year's roster and playing with nothing to lose.
"The one year that we didn't make the playoffs  I think we won our last couple of games. It was just nothing-to-lose soccer, a lot of new guys out there getting a chance to show," Dynamo -- and ex-United -- defender Bobby Boswell said earlier this week.
We knocked them out of the playoffs last year, what better redemption than to knock us out? But that's their job, you get paid to win the game. And we're going to go out there and try to get a result, move on, be back in the playoffs, that's where we want to be."
Dynamo captain Brad Davis agreed:
"Sometimes it's the most difficult to play a team that has nothing to lose," Davis remarked. "The might have guys out there trying to prove a point, trying to make the team possibly for next year, prove to their coach they belong on the team, and sometimes that can be some of the most difficult teams to play against. So it's definitely going to be a rough game for us and we will need to go in there and get a win."
United, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park last time out.
D.C. fell behind early as Dominic Dwyer capitalized on a poor back pass from United defender Perry Kitchen and slotted the ball past and out-of-position Bill Hamid in the seventh minute for the game's only goal.
"For about 15 minutes, we were bullied," United head coach Ben Olsen said. "We warned the guys that it would be a fast paced, physical opening to the game. I didn't think we had the right bite to us.
When we go down a goal, about twenty minutes in, we start getting it. We start understanding this is a man's game. I thought for the rest of the game that we were the better team, but it doesn't matter, it does not matter. When you don't play the full game, a good team like Kansas City, they'll bite you and they'll bite you early."