Playoff outsiders meet as Fire face Dynamo

Houston, TX ( - The Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo will square off at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday with both sides facing must-win situations.

Both sides currently reside outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference with Houston sitting seven points behind the fifth-place Columbus Crew, while the Fire is nine points adrift.

Chicago tied the all-time MLS record for draws in a season with 16 last time out as Matt Watson scored the equalizer in the 78th minute of a 3-3 draw with D.C. United.

And while the Fire will be pleased to have rallied for a point against the first-place team in the Eastern Conference, goalkeeper Sean Johnson knows how different this season could have been had his club been able to turn a few more of those draws into wins.

"The record reflects how our season has been, if we have half the amount of ties as we have, we'd be in first place or somewhere close," Johnson said. "We've lost less games than the team in first place [D.C., who've lost nine], so that's tough to deal with.

"We still have a fighting chance and we have to go down fighting. If we have any chance to save the season, we have to go after it."

Chicago must beat Houston on Sunday to have a chance at saving its season, but the Fire have only managed five wins in 28 games this term, and just one victory in the last six.

The Dynamo missed a chance to move closer to the top five last weekend as the team was held to a 0-0 draw by Philadelphia, and head coach Dominic Kinnear feels as though his team must put together a winning streak to have any chance at reaching the postseason.

"I think it's going to take a winning streak," Kinnear said when asked what his team needs to do to make the playoffs. "Everyone's playing each other here at the end. Our best opportunity to catch Philadelphia was to beat them head to head because you can't have your reliance on other teams.

"For us to make the playoffs with six games to go they're going to have to go on a winning streak here. It gives confidence and puts pressure on others."

Houston's season came apart a bit between May 17 and Aug. 3 as the team went winless in eight games and was outscored 21-6.

Since that time the Dynamo have been trying to dig themselves out of that hole, and rookie defender A.J. Cochran thinks his team is capable to putting together the necessary results to clinch an eighth playoff berth in nine years.

"There's still 18 points up for grabs. There are still plenty of points out there," said Cochran. "We've just got to stay together as a team, work hard and the points will come."