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Downstream Game 18: Away to the Houston Dynamo

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Dynamo Stats

2020 Record: 4-9-9 W-L-T, 21 points for 0.95 PPG (last in the Western Conference)

Goals: 29 for, 38 allowed, -9 differential

Last Result: Lost to Dallas 3-0 away

Last MLS Power Ranking Position: 25

Ladies and gentlemen… the unbelievable has happened. The Colorado Rapids are in the playoffs. After a sad 2017, a truly tragic 2018, and a heroic comeback dashed just short of playoffs in 2019, we are in. Not only that - we are guaranteed a spot before Decision Day. Last year, we were still in the race until the final gameday, but needed a series of results to happen for us to make it in. Plus, we were up against the Supporter’s Shield winners. A big challenge, but we gave it our all. It laid the groundwork for the team we brought into 2020, a team largely focused on talented youth that could grow under Fraser’s leadership. We can now test that growth out in the playoffs.

But first, we have to finish our regular season. Although the phrase “regular season” implies that the season has been regular, and there is nothing regular about it. We’re going to be ending the season with a full five fewer games played than most of the other teams in the league, but even with that five-game deficit we still might have qualified for the playoffs anyways. It depends a bit on what happens with Vancouver in their last game, but really it is just a testament to the grit and determination of this team. To all of those people who are mad that the Rapids are getting in via PPG instead of straight-up points, they can eat their words.

One last game to wrap up the season before we start focusing on the playoffs. For the second time in 2020, we will be playing the Houston Dynamo. How do our opponents look as they look to close out their own season on a high note?

The Dynamo are in an unenviable situation. With a dismal 0.95 PPG, they are entirely unable to make a push to the postseason. For a point of comparison, we’ve managed to get four more points than them while playing five fewer games. Meanwhile, thanks to our win against Portland, we are guaranteed a spot. So, regardless of the results, we can look back on this season with pride.

When we last played them, back in early September, that actually started a massive backslide for the team. They’ve only managed one win over their last thirteen games. Yeesh. They also sold Albert Elis, their former DP, to Boavista in Portugal. Interestingly, there he is a teammate with former FC Dallas homegrown player Reggie Cannon.

Things aren’t entirely bleak though, as they recently brought in Argentinian winger Mateo Bajamich. The 21-year-old comes to them from Instituto in Argentina, with the deal happening thanks to a reported $1.2m transfer fee. His contract also goes through 2022 with option years through 2025. Together with Tab Ramos, the former US U-20 head coach, Bajamich looks like he could potentially be a game-changer for them. He has yet to make his debut, so he might not make an appearance, but they really don’t have any reason to not try and play him.

To me, there are three main points to this game.

One, it might be a good idea to rest some of our players. There isn’t any real reason for us to play certain players who need a break. The last thing we need right now is to have a player get injured and be unavailable for playoffs. There, we’ll need every player rested up and ready to go starting with the very first game.

Two, playing Houston could be the game to set the team up mentally for the playoffs. A huge win against Seattle and a huge win against Portland (on the road, no less) has already done wonders for the team’s confidence. Just check out the videos of the team after the final whistle in Portland. But ending the season on a loss, or even just a tie, could put a sour note on things prior to the postseason.

Three, while we are for sure locked in for the playoffs, we do have some open questions remaining on where we end up in the final ranking, and thus determining hosting for playoff games. At this rate, the highest we could finish is in fourth, behind SKC, the Timbers, and Seattle. Being able to host a game or two does mean we would have home-field advantage, admittedly without fans though.

We’ve got good reason to think we can end the season with another three points. It will give us the best way for the team to get mentally set for the postseason and give us the best chance at hosting the game. Let’s treat it like one big springboard, and end the season on a high note.