In a strange twist, the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will play each other in back-to-back games as the two sides make up a game postponed by Hurricane Harvey, then play a regularly scheduled game four days later.
The first of the two contests will be Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
It is a lot like a playoff series, with games at each team’s venue, but this is still the regular season.
The clubs were scheduled to play in Houston on Aug. 26, but the pending arrival of Hurricane Harvey forced the postponement. After the makeup game, the return match will be Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC (12-7-12, 48 points) would clinch a playoff spot Wednesday with a win or draw, while Houston (11-10-10, 43 points) will try to get into stronger playoff position. Sporting KC sits in second place in the Western Conference.
The fifth-place Dynamo are tied on points with FC Dallas, but Houston has the extra game to play. Behind that duo are Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes, who each have 42 points. There are two playoff spots likely to be shared among those four squads.
Sporting KC is just three points behind the first-place Vancouver Whitecaps, again with an extra game to play.
Sporting KC, clinging to a 1-0 lead, gave up a goal in the 84th minute against Minnesota United on Saturday night, settling for a 1-1 draw. The two extra points could have brought it within one point and given it a chance to move into sole possession of first place with a victory against Houston.
What was worse for Sporting KC, goalkeeper Tim Melia, who had played every minute of every game this season, had to leave early in the second half with a right hamstring strain. He will be sidelined for up to a month with the injury.
“It’s two to four weeks, but you never know,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “You just don’t know with any of those things. We’re going to have to be smart and careful and deal with it the right way.”
Andrew Dykstra filled in for Melia on Saturday and allowed the game-tying goal, although he stood little chance to make the save. Dykstra was an offseason addition to the roster via the re-entry draft. He has played in 32 career MLS matches, making his debut in 2010. He has a career 11-11-9 record, allowing 45 goals.
Both teams will be far from full strength Wednesday. Sporting KC will be without defender Matt Besler and midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who were with the U.S. Men’s National Team for a World Cup qualifying loss Tuesday night in Trinidad. Graham Zusi, who is also on the USMNT, is out due to a suspension.
Houston has internationals of its own, with USMNT defender DaMarcus Beasley, Honduras forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto and midfielder Boniek Garcia, and Panama defender Adolfo Machado all listed as doubtful following games with their national teams Tuesday night.