Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Red Bull New York will hope to inch closer
to a first-ever MLS Supporters' Shield on Sunday when it takes on the Houston
Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Red Bulls enter their final two matches of the season with their destiny
in their own hands. Sitting atop the overall MLS table on 53 points, six
points the rest of the way would grant New York the top seed in the
postseason, the first piece of silverware in club history and guaranteed home
field advantage in MLS Cup, should Mike Petke's men advance that far.
But the first step in that process comes with taking points off of the Dynamo,
who enter the contest on a five-game unbeaten run.
Houston's impressive form has lifted the club to third place in the Eastern
Conference on 48 points, but a postseason berth has not yet been assured. The
Dynamo have their sights set finishing in at least third place in order to
avoid the dreaded play-in game reserved for the fourth and fifth seeds.
Houston went through the play-in game last season and wound up reaching MLS
Cup, but avoiding that scenario this time around would allow for a welcomed
bit of rest.
"It's a credit to us to have done that last year and still be able to make it
to the final," defender Kofi Sarkodie told MLSsoccer.com. "It showed the
strength of the team and the mentality, but if you can have some rest and some
down time then it's only going to help you long-term."
Houston's last league defeat came in the form of a 4-1 home loss to the Red
Bulls on Sept. 8, but Petke does not believe that was a true indicator of
where both teams are at the moment.
"We were missing some players, they were missing some players," Petke told the
club's official website of the affair. "They're on a good run lately. They're
fighting for a playoff future. So it's going to be a completely different
The Dynamo's good run of form seems typical given the manner in which they
traditionally finish the season. The club has reached MLS Cup four time in its
seven seasons, including the past two in which it fell to the Los Angeles
"Houston over the years always seems to click at the right time, and they are
clicking," Petke continued. "They have been a very successful team and we're
very aware of that and we're very aware of how dangerous they are at the
moment and we're looking at how they can hurt us and how we can hurt them and
hopefully get a clear understanding of that through to the players and go in
there and put everything on the line."
The Sports Network