The Seattle Sounders have a chance to end their part in a competitive Western Conference race and keep their streak of playoff appearances going by ending another club’s postseason hopes.
The Sounders will try to wrap up a berth with their first road win over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday and extend their unbeaten streak to seven games.
Seattle’s 47 points are tied with San Jose and Portland, but the Sounders (14-13-5) have one more win than both teams, putting them in fifth place in the West. One more victory gives the franchise a playoff berth in each of its seven seasons of existence.
Seattle, though, will have to travel to a place where it’s 0-4-1 all-time, but the Sounders have won each of the past two overall matchups with the Dynamo (11-13-8). They recorded a 1-0 victory April 4 with Obafemi Martins scoring and will face a team that’s desperate to stave off elimination this time.
Houston’s playoff bid will end with a tie or a loss, or a Portland win or tie against Los Angeles on Sunday.
"It’s going to be a tough game because obviously Houston’s going to bring everything they have. They know they have to win," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "So for us, we have to match their intensity and make sure we match their desire. Then hopefully, we’ll take advantage of their necessity to have to push forward."
Chad Marshall could return from a sprained neck this weekend for Schmid’s team. Designated player Nelson Valdez (undisclosed) and Oniel Fisher (hamstring) are questionable for the Sounders, who are 3-0-3 in their last six and haven’t played since a 1-all draw with Los Angeles on Oct. 4.
"I’m feeling good. I was out for a little bit so you lose some fitness. So I did a little bit extra this week to hopefully get that back," Marshall said. "I think I’m ready if called upon."
Martins ended a franchise record-tying five-game goal-scoring streak in that game as Chad Barrett had the lone tally in stoppage time.
Houston also got a two-week break following a 4-1 drubbing at FC Dallas on Oct. 4. The Dynamo had won their final two games in September, both at home, and are 7-1-1 in their last nine league games on their own field.
"We have to win the last two games and hope results go our way. All we can do is win those last two games which is always difficult," coach Owen Coyle said. "It is what is. It’s horrible, it’s not a nice feeling. But we’ll pick ourselves up and go again."
Jermaine Taylor is considered doubtful for Coyle’s team because of an ailing quad. Nathan Sturgis also has a quad injury, and Sheanon Williams is dealing with hamstring tightness.
Raul Rodriguez is suspended after drawing a red card in the loss to Dallas.
Houston is in danger of missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time.