Houston Dynamo FC return to the postseason for the first time since 2017 on Sunday, Oct. 29 when they welcome Real Salt Lake for Game 1 in the Round One Best-of-3 Series. Houston earned homefield advantage with a 3-1 road victory over Portland Timbers FC on Decision Day. The team finished fourth in the Western Conference standings and won 14 games in a single season for the first time since 2013.
Fans can enjoy “Beers on Ben” when gates open at 3:30 p.m. CT, as the first 5,000 fans to arrive at the stadium will receive a Bud Light compliments of head coach Ben Olsen as a special thank you for Houston’s support throughout the season. Additionally, upon entry to the stadium, all fans will receive aHouston Dynamo playoffs, powered by Shell Energy, rally towel,which is comprised of 100 percent polyester sourced from recycled plastic water bottles as part of ongoing sustainability efforts with Shell Energy. Houston Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez, University of Houston Men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson and Houston Dash players to attend and take part in festivities at Sunday’s match at Shell Energy Stadium.
Houston’s victory in Portland featured a brace from defender Griffin Dorsey, the first of his MLS career. Midfielder Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla also found the back of the net for his third goal of the season. Captain Héctor Herrera tallied two assists to finish the regular season with 17, good for second-most in MLS this season. That is the highest mark for a Dynamo player in a single season, surpassing the previous record held by midfielder Brad Davis, who finished with 16 assists in 2011.
Real Salt Lake finished fifth in the Western Conference after they defeated the Colorado Rapids 1-0 on Decision Day. Salt Lake qualified for the postseason for the third consecutive year and reached the Western Conference final in 2021. The Dynamo backline will be tasked with containing midfielder Diego Luna, who has been pivotal for Salt Lake in the final stretch of the season, scoring in back-to-back games to help RSL finish with a 14-12-8 (WLD) record. Salt Lake earned a postseason berth without Pablo Ruiz, who suffered a knee injury at LAFC in Aug. The midfielder contributed to 10 goals (four goals and six assists) in 17 appearances for Salt Lake prior to the injury.
This is the first meeting between both sides in the postseason, while the all-time regular season series is tied with 13 victories for each team and 11 draws. The Dynamo finished with a 2-0-1 (WLD) record versus Salt Lake in all competitions this year, including a 3-1 victory at home in the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Aug. 23. Houston earned three points three days later in a 3-0 victory on the road over Salt Lake.
Houston’s playoff campaign, powered by Shell Energy, continues on Monday, Nov. 6 for the second game of the Best-of-3 Series. If necessary, the third game is scheduled for Nov. 11 at Shell Energy Stadium.
Here are three key points ahead of Sunday’s match:
- _DYNAMO DOMINATE AT HOME: In all competitions this year, the Dynamo earned a 15-3-5 (WLD) home record at Shell Energy Stadium. Houston earned 11 league wins at home, tied for the most in the Western Conference with top-seeded St. Louis CITY SC. Additionally, the Dynamo outscored visiting teams 36-11 at home over the course of the season. Scoring was highlighted by a 5-0 victory over Portland (Aug. 20) and 5-1 victory versus Colorado (Oct. 7) in which the Dynamo scored four first-half goals twice in a season for the first time since 2008.
- *DYNAMO RESURGANCE CONTINUES WITH POSTSEASON BERTH: _Houston earned 51 points with a 14-11-9 (WLD) record over the course of a resurgent season, the most points since the Dynamo last made in the playoffs in 2017 (50 points). It also marks just the fifth time in Club history earning more than 50 points and the first time since 2013 when the Dynamo made a run to the Conference Finals. The Dynamo have only lost one match since returning to MLS play after Leagues Cup on Aug. 20, earning an 8-1-4 (WLD) record in all competitions, amassing 22 league points and outscoring opponents 30-9 during that stretch. In addition to league success, the Dynamo won their fourth domestic championship in Sept., defeating Inter Miami CF 2-1 to lift the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With the victory, Houston qualified for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, which will mark the first time the team will compete in the regional tournament since 2019. In this summer’s Leagues Cup, Houston also qualified to the Round of 16, in which the Dynamo defeated perennial Mexican powers CF Pachuca and Santos Laguna. Houston enters with a 16-10-7 (WLD) record in the postseason and the Dynamo are one of two MLS teams that can win two trophies this year (FC Cincinnati won the Supporters’ Shield).
- LEAGUE NAVIGATES NEW FORMAT: *The New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City advanced from the Wild Card game to the Round One Best-of-3 Series, which features a new twist to the traditional playoff format. Each team will have an opportunity to host a match in this round and no game will finish in a draw. If a match is tied at the end of regulation, the winner will be decided by kicks from the penalty spot. No extra time will be played in this round. The first team to win two matches advances to the Conference Semifinals. A full overview of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs is available HERE.