The Seattle Sounders are on a five-game winning streak--a record for the club--and are unbeaten in six games. In six meetings with Seattle, Houston have won just once, but it was significant: they beat the Sounders 1-0 in extra time of the MLS playoff semifinal last year. The Dynamo are 2-1-1 in their last four matches and won 1-0 over San Jose last weekend. Still, this late season spell of fine form means nothing to Houston, except that perhaps they can look forward to finding their footing in the league again next season.
Although Seattle has its playoff spot sewn up, don't expect a less than full-strength lineup. Fredy Montero misses the match due to an accumulation of yellow cards, but honestly, this is a pleasant development. Not because Fredy's been under-performing--the team is sharing goals right now, but Montero's still been up to his tricks--but because a match spent hoping that our best player doesn't get hurt doesn't seem like a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. Now supporters just need to hope that Osvaldo Alonso escapes unscathed, as a cup run without the impressive midfielder will be nearly impossible.
Without Montero, it's likely that Nate Jaqua will get the start, attempting to replicate his performance in US Open Cup games by scoring against Houston. Mike Fucito would be more of a like-for-like replacement for Montero, while Jaqua will show what would happen should two towering players lead Seattle's attack. Seeing Fucito with Nkufo, however, would give the team an idea of how they'd work together, should Sigi Schmid be keeping an eye on what he might like to do with substitutions in the playoff run.
Should the Sounders manage to beat Houston by eleven goals, they'll go into third place in the West, but a more realistic scenario would be fourth or fifth. According to Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart, if the Sounders take any of the top six places in MLS, they automatically qualify for next year's Open Cup (no, I don't know why they don't automatically qualify by winning the trophy). That's the goal for today, then.
For more on how Houston will play its final game of 2010, visit Sounder at Heart, where Zach Woolsey of Dynamo Theory gives a great take on which players Houston will likely say goodbye to after this match.