*The MLS playoffs commenced Wednesday night with the Houston Dynamo, the 2011 runner-up, winning at Chicago, 2-1. It wasn’t pretty, and I’m not talking about the match. A nationally televised postseason game was played in front of large patches of empty seats on a frigid night at Toyota Park. This is what happens when an excessive playoff game scheduled on four days’ notice is played on a weeknight in a cold-weather location: Aside from season ticket holders, it’s a tough sell. The announced crowd was 10,923.

Anyway, Will Bruin scored twice and the Dynamo advanced to face top-seeded Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC) and Wednesday at Livestrong Sporting Park (9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick). On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Galaxy should put an end to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ sub.-500 season (10:30, NBC Sports Network).

*As you know by now, D.C. United will host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at RFK Stadium and go on the road Wednesday for the second leg — a switch from the original schedule. My full story from the print edition is available for your inspection. The piece appears at the top of the front Sports page (image here).

*Americans abroad:


MF Clint Dempsey 90 (missed PK in 89th) in Spurs’ 2-1 league cup loss at Norwich

MF Michael Bradley 67 in Roma’s 3-2 loss at Parma

D Oguchi Onyewu 90 (goal in 4th) in Malaga’s 4-3 cup victory at Cacereno

F Terrence Boyd 120 (goal in 73rd) in Rapid Vienna’s 4-2 cup victory over Altach

D Steve Cherundolo 90 in Hanover’s 1-1 cup draw (4-3 on PKs) vs. Dynamo Dresden

MF Joe Gyau 90 in St. Pauli’s 3-0 cup loss at Stuttgart


F Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar at SWZ (Dutch Cup)

F Conor O’Brien and Sonderjyske vs. Copenhagen (Danish Cup)

*The University of Maryland men’s team will seek to complete its first unbeaten regular season since 1968 on Thursday night when the top-ranked Terrapins (14-0-2, 6-0-1) visit ACC rival Wake Forest (10-3-4, 3-1-3).  ESPN3.com will carry the match at 7 p.m. ET.