by Joey Sabet
Going into Saturday night’s season finale against the Colorado Rapids, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear was content to give many of his starters a rest as the team’s fate had already been decided based on the contests earlier in the day.
Colorado started off on fire and finished accordingly, cruising to the 2-0 win, but the result was less than important to Kinnear as was looking ahead to Wednesday’s play-in game at Chicago against the Fire.
Cause and effect
Houston needed wins by both D.C. United and Philadelphia Union in order to have a chance to jump up to the third seed in the Eastern Conference. However, the Union dropped a one-sided affair to New York 3-0; with a United win the Dynamo would have had a chance to host the play-in game, but United was forced to settle for the tie, ensuring the Dynamo’s road in the playoffs will start in Chicago.
As a result, Kinnear left all but two regulars off the pitch for the match at Colorado, one where the Rapids outclassed the Dynamo despite a valiant effort by backup goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who was making his first-career MLS start.
An early goal for the Colorado set the tone, and Houston’s only real chance came in the 19th minute off Cam Weaver’s header, but it was deftly tipped over the crossbar to safety by Rapids keeper Steward Ceus.
Since the Dynamo’s first season in Houston back in 2006, the team has reached the postseason six times in its seven seasons, including two MLS cups (2006, 2007) and last year where they were the MLS Cup runner-up.
Based on Kinnear’s XI against the Rapids, it seems that he had already moved on from the regular season and began focusing on the Fire. The Dynamo went 0-1-2 against Chicago this season; a scoreless draw at home on July 3rd, a 1-1 draw on April 15th and a 3-1 loss on September 2nd in Chicago.
The Fire are no stranger to the postseason as well; they’ve qualified for the playoffs in 11 of their 13 seasons, including an MLS Cup in their inaugural season. However, they’ve failed to qualify for each of the last two playoffs, the first such occurrence in their club’s history.
The game is slated to kickoff Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, on ESPN2.