The Dynamo struggled last season, but will face Seattle in the Western Conference finals.

Last year, the Houston Dynamo finished at the bottom of the Western Conference. This season they’re playing for the conference title.

After a layoff, the Major League Soccer playoffs continue Tuesday when the two-legged conference finals start. In the East, the Columbus Crew host Toronto FC, while the Seattle Sounders visit the Dynamo in the West.

The conference championships could probably best be characterized as an underdog challenge on both sides: The Crew facing the winners of the Supporters Shield and the presumptive favorites, and the Dynamo taking on the defending MLS Cup champions.

“I’ve been working hard, we’ve been working hard together and now we’ve been rewarded,” Houston Coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “But we want more and we know that every time and every game you get something, now it’s more pressure for you.”

The Dynamo finished 7-14-13 last season for 10th in the Western Conference. Houston brought in Cabrera from the USL in hopes of returning to playoffs for the first time since 2013.

It worked.

“Sometimes we have to start from the bottom to prove ourselves,” Cabrera said.

The Dynamo advanced 2-1 on aggregate after a two-legged semifinal against the Portland Timbers, who finished atop the Western Conference.

There was a long break between games for international play, giving the Dynamo ample time to game plan for Seattle. But three players – Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Boniek Garcia – traveled with the Honduras national team for a two-legged playoff with Australia in World Cup qualifying. Honduras fell to the Socceroos 3-1 on aggregate.