D.C. United hosts the Houston Dynamo in the final game of the 2013 campaign (1:30 p.m. ET / NBC). The Black-and-Red will be aiming to play spoiler once again, as the Dynamo needs a result if it hopes to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
Currently sitting in sixth—one spot out of post-season qualification—Houston is level on points with New England and two behind both Chicago and Montreal. To clinch a playoff berth, the Dynamo will need to either win or draw at RFK Stadium and hope that one of the teams above it drops points. The Texas side has already missed out on advancing to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League, losing 1-0 to Arabe Unido on Thursday when it needed just a draw to move on. Houston’s recent League results are also mixed—last weekend, the Dynamo fell to the Red Bulls 3-0 and the squad has a 3-4-3 mark in its last ten games.
But Houston didn’t have any trouble in its two early-season meetings with United. In the League opener, the Dynamo scored two late goals—an own goal from James Riley and a strike from Ricardo Clark—to win 2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Just over two months later, Houston routed D.C. 4-0 at RFK Stadium thanks to a Will Bruin brace and additional strikes from Giles Barnes and Andrew Driver. Despite battling inconsistency, the Dynamo has beaten other teams in similar fashion behind the trio of Bruin, Barnes and American international Brad Davis. Together, the three attackers have contributed 20 goals and 16 assists on the season.
Still, the Black-and-Red will be keen to play spoiler against another conference rival, especially the team that knocked D.C. out of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Despite falling to Kansas City in its most recent action, United has improved its performances since winning the U.S. Open Cup and will look to finish the season on a high note in front of its home fans. D.C. can also improve upon its all-time mark of 4-11-2 against Houston, and leading-scorers Dwayne De Rosario and Luis Silva will hope to tally for the final time this campaign.
Conor Doyle, who’s contributed two goals and an assist since joining the team in July, spoke on the team’s attitude heading into its last match.
“I think we’ve gained—obviously, the results haven’t gone our way, but we’ve gained a lot of confidence with the way we’ve played and things like that over the last two or three games. We’re pretty confident going into this one,” he said.
Doyle and the rest of the United front line will look to finish off their chances against the Dynamo—one of Assistant Coach Chad Ashton’s keys to the game.
“The past few games, we’ve created a lot of chances. We’ve done a good job at keeping the ball, getting into the final third, creating that chance, and then something’s missing—either the finish or the final ball. We’re just not putting those chances away. I think it’s a huge key again to the match that we execute once we get into the final third and that final ball is good, it’s weighted correctly. And you got to bang shots on goal—you got to put them away,” he said.
Join us at RFK Stadium as we celebrate the final game of 2013 with Fan Appreciation Day, in which we’ll pay tribute to the best fans in MLS with special promotions and giveaways. Buy your tickets here.