Houston Dynamo FC travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Oct. 21, where Decision Day will determine the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs matchups.
Earlier this month, Houston clinched its first MLS playoff berth since 2017, and now controls its own destiny heading into Decision Day. With a win in Portland on Saturday, the Dynamo secure a top-four seed in the Western Conference and home-field advantage in the Round One Best-of-3 series. Houston has finished in the top four of their respective conference seven times since making their debut in 2006. Houston last finished in the top four in 2017 when they reached the Western Conference final.
The Dynamo can finish no lower than sixth in the Western Conference and will host at least one playoff match at Shell Energy Stadium, where Houston boasts a 15-3-5 (WLD) record in all competitions this season. Dynamo fans can purchase single-game postseason tickets starting on Sunday via SeatGeek.
Houston enters Saturday’s match fourth in the table after defeating the Colorado Rapids 5-1 at home on Oct. 7. The Dynamo scored four first-half goals for the second time this season (Aug. 20 vs. Portland), a first for the team since the 2008 season. Forward Nelson Quiñónes tallied two goals to complete his first brace for the Dynamo, while captain Héctor Herrera recorded his team-leading 15th assist of the season, good for second-best in MLS.
Portland enters Saturday’s match seventh in the Western Conference and also controls its own destiny, as a win secures a playoff berth (among other scenarios). The Timbers most recently fell 4-1 on the road to CF Montréal, with their loan goal coming from Franck Boli in the 86th minute.
The Timbers have been a tough opponent for the Dynamo since they joined the league in 2011, holding a 10-6-7 (WLD) record over Houston. However, in the most recent matchup in August, Houston defeated Portland 5-0 at Shell Energy Stadium, and the Dynamo will look to carry that momentum towards their second regular season victory at Providence Park.
Returning from the October FIFA window will be midfielder Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla, who represented Panama in two CONCACAF Nations League victories over Curaçao (2-1) and Guatemala (3-0). The 2023 Gold Cup Player of the Tournament played significant minutes in both matches and scored the opening goal of his country’s victory over Guatemala. Goalkeeper Xavier Valdez also returns after starting both Nations League matches with the Dominican Republic, who defeated Barbados 5-0 on the road and 5-2 at home.
Additional information regarding the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs schedule and tickets will be confirmed and distributed following Decision Day.
Here are three key points ahead of Saturday’s match:
- HOME FIELD-CLINCHING SCENARIOS: Decision Day holds four scenarios where Houston Dynamo FC can clinch a top-four seed in the Western Conference of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, highlighted by winning at the Portland Timbers on Saturday. A top-four finish would guarantee home-field advantage in at least the Round One Best-of-3 series. The Dynamo could finish as high as second, which would secure home-field advantage through the Western Conference Semifinals. A full breakdown is available HERE.
- STACKING POINTS: Houston’s 48 points through 33 matches this season already surpasses every season total since the Dynamo last made the playoffs in 2017, when the team totaled 50 points. A victory on Saturday would land the Dynamo at 51 points for the season, marking 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. A large swath of those points came between July 15 (at Colorado) and Sept. 20 (vs. Vancouver) when Houston went undefeated in seven consecutive league matches (4-0-3 WLD) for the first time since August 2012. Additionally, the Dynamo boast a 7-1-4 (WLD) record in all competitions since returning to MLS play after Leagues Cup on Aug. 20, amassing 19 league points and outscoring opponents 27-8 during that stretch.
- CLEAN SHEET HISTORY: Goalkeeper Steve Clark will have his final chance of the season to break Houston Dynamo FC’s all-time single-season clean sheet record after recording his 12th shutout of the season versus FC Dallas on Saturday, Sept. 30. Clark’s previous season-high total was eight clean sheets in 2014 and 2016 with the Columbus Crew. Earlier this season, Houston went 540 minutes without conceding a goal, the second-longest streak in club history (longest: 727 minutes between June and July in 2007). The veteran shot stopper has recorded 80 saves in 32 matches this season. Houston is tied for first in MLS with 13 total clean sheets, as fellow goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, who started every match of the Dynamo’s U.S. Open Cup championship campaign, helped the team earn a scoreless draw at the LA Galaxy last month. Clark will look to deliver another key performance versus Portland on Saturday after already earning a clean sheet versus the Timbers at home on Aug. 20.