As they continue to play short-handed because of injuries and international call-ups, the Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids hope to overcome those personnel losses in the week leading up to a much-needed World Cup break.
While the visiting Dynamo look to turn things around with their first victory over Colorado in five years, the Rapids will try to win two in a row for the first time in almost two months Sunday night.
Houston (5-7-2) dressed less than a full 18-man roster for the fourth consecutive match last Sunday at San Jose, falling to 1-3-0 during that stretch with a 3-0 loss. Now the struggling Dynamo are on the verge of matching their season-worst skid of three.
Ricardo Clark is continuing to deal with a concussion and Eric Brunner has been sidelined following ankle surgery, while Mark Sherrod and Tony Cascio are both out due to season-ending knee injuries.
With Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia also away while training for the World Cup, Houston has been shut out in its last two losses and hasn't scored since Giles Barnes' goal in the 61st minute of a 1-0 home win over Los Angeles on May 17.
Missing stars Clark, Davis and Garcia have a combined four goals for the Dynamo, who will likely have to play short at least three more games before the league's three-week hiatus during the World Cup.
"They're all MVP-type players," club president Chris Canetti told the team's official website. "To be missing all three of them is obviously a huge challenge. We're going to try and survive the short-term and get those guys back and see what we can do when we have them."
Goalkeeper Tally Hall hasn't been able to pick up the club in the back, allowing 10 goals in his last four matches. Though the two-time All-Star ranks among MLS' leaders with five shutouts, the Dynamo also have given up among the most goals with 24.
Houston has gone 0-4-3 in its last seven meetings with the Rapids (5-4-3) since last beating them on April 19, 2009. In the only meeting last season, Barnes and Colorado's Drew Moor scored the only goals in a 1-all draw in Houston.
Following a two-game losing streak, the Rapids got back on track with one of their best efforts in Sunday's 4-1 home win over Montreal. Dillon Powers, who assisted on Moor's goal last season versus Houston, scored his first two goals of 2014 as Colorado doubled its previous season high total.
The Rapids also could be missing several key players as they seek their first two-game winning streak since early April.
Leading scorer Vicente Sanchez (sprained knee), designated player Gabriel Torres (muscle damage), Edson Buddle (groin), Marc Burch (hamstring), Gale Abgossoumonde (abdomen) and Nathan Sturgis (foot) are among the team's wounded.
Making matters worse, Deshorn Brown's status is uncertain because he's currently playing with the Jamaican national team.
"I don't really know what the process is right now," said Brown, who has two goals in six home games. "I think (technical director Paul) Bravo doesn't want me to go there for so long."