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Dynamo, Revolution headed in opposite directions

Just a few seasons ago, when the New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo played, there was not a bigger game in Major League Soccer.

New England and Houston met in back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and '07, but last season, neither club reached the playoffs. New England previously had not been out of the playoffs since 2001 and Houston - counting the franchise's previous time in San Jose - since 2000.

In that span, the two franchises appeared in four MLS Cups each, with the San Jose-Houston teams winning all four and New England losing all four.

On Wednesday night, the teams meet at Gillette Stadium with the Revolution and Dynamo just trying to re-establish themselves as playoff contenders in MLS.

Houston (7-7-10) found new life in the Eastern Conference this season, and now sits tied for third place with Red Bull New York with one less game played. In the Western Conference, the Dynamo would be sixth.

New England (4-11-9) has not taken advantage of playing in the weaker division and sits next-to-last, just one point above the Chicago Fire.

But with the top-three teams in each conference guaranteed a playoff spot, the gap between New England and Houston is just 10 points.

Houston has engineered its turnaround with a recent stretch of play where it's three wins and four draws in its last eight games. The Dynamo downed expansion Portland on Sunday, 2-1, to improve to 7-3-3 at home.

"Overall, I'm happy with the effort," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We have leapfrogged some teams in the Eastern Conference and put ourselves in a pretty good spot.

"We will move on from this one and move on to Wednesday's match."

But on the road, Houston is just one of three teams - Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are the others - that has yet to win a game this season.

The Dynamo do have seven draws in 11 road matches, but Wednesday's match could go a long way in deciding whether Kinnear has again pieced together a playoff contender.

If Houston snaps its road jinx, it would tie the Philadelphia Union on points for second place in the conference and be just three behind the Columbus Crew for first place.

Although New England has just one win in its last 14 games, the playoff format gives Steve Nicol's club a good shot at chasing down a postseason berth with a good run to finish the season.

With 10 games left this year, the four-time MLS Cup runner-up has to overturn the 10-point deficit to secure a top-three finish.

But last weekend's 3-1 loss to the Columbus Crew, when Benny Feilhaber scored in the final seconds of the first half to give the Revolution a lead that the Crew erased with three second-half goals, snaps a good picture of the season.

New England has struggled to put together a full 90 minutes on most occasions, and usually pays for it with a loss, something it cannot afford this week.

"It's not a fluke that it's happening every single game," Feilhaber said, "and until we fix that we're not going to be able to win games."

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