The Houston Dynamo has already booked a return trip to the MLS playoffs, but Saturday's match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park against the Colorado Rapids is still important to the club.
Houston currently occupies the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and sits one point back of fourth-place Red Bull New York, meaning that the team would visit the Red Bulls in the first round of the playoffs if things stayed the same.
A win would give the Dynamo a chance to host the first-round matchup if New York was held to a draw or a loss against Philadelphia, but even though Houston doesn't control its own destiny, Saturday's game can still provide momentum.
Last season, Houston failed to win a game away from home until Sept. 24 against Dallas. However, the club used the victory to push on and record away wins in the postseason against Philadelphia and Sporting Kansas City on its way to the MLS Cup final.
"If we can go out and get a good road result, we can get some momentum to the playoffs," forward Will Bruin said. "You saw last year, we got hot there at the end of the season and we rode it all the way to the finals."
Houston may still finish fifth in the East and face a road test against New York in the first round, but regardless of how the results play out, defender Bobby Boswell believes that the playoff preparations begin now, not just when the postseason begins.
"I really feel like we're a team that's tried to hold ourselves accountable all the time," said Boswell. "It's not a light switch where you say, 'Boom, it's the playoffs and turn it on.' We've been working hard and playing hard and we got to where we want to be which is the postseason but we still have to finish the season out and that's the most important thing."
The Rapids have no playoff implications on the line, but they too will try to close out the campaign on a positive note after recording a 2-0 win over Chivas USA last time out.