Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo are both entering their final league match before the World Cup break with hopes of ending streaks they'd rather not dwell on for the next three weeks.
The rival clubs will meet Friday night in Houston for the first time since Sporting eliminated the Dynamo in the Eastern Conference final a season ago.
Kansas City (5-5-4) is winless in five matches after Saturday's 1-0 loss at D.C., though it's hardly fielding its top team due to international call-ups and injuries. It hasn't gone longer since a 10-match winless span from March 26-June 9, 2011.
"We just need to keep moving guys around to get ourselves through this period," coach Peter Vermes said. "Obviously, we've got one more game before the break and we'll do the best that we can with it at the moment, but I have nothing but praise for our team."
A date with Houston (5-8-2) could do Sporting some good. The clubs met five times a season ago, with Sporting going 2-0-3 - 1-0-2 without conceding a goal at BBVA Compass Stadium.
That might make for added attacking headaches for a Dynamo side that has gone 299 minutes without scoring. It's amounted to Houston's second three-match losing streak of 2014, something it hadn't experienced since a four-game skid from Aug. 28-Sept. 22, 2010. The Dynamo have never gone four straight league matches without a goal, which they're in danger of after Sunday's 3-0 loss in Colorado.
On top of their scoring issues, they have conceded eight goals on the losing streak and 13 in their past five games.
"It's important for us to really forget quickly what happened and move forward to this game," coach Dominic Kinnear told the club's official website. "It's been a good rivalry over the years, there's always been some hotly contested games and I don't think this Friday will be any different."
Lineups certainly will have changed.
Houston will be without United States midfielder Brad Davis and Honduras midfielder Boniek Garcia due to World Cup leave while Brian Ownby is doubtful due to a concussion.
Sporting is operating without midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler while the pair is with the U.S. national team. It also could be without defender Aurelien Collin, who reinjured his hamstring against D.C., while defender Igor Juliao is questionable with a quadriceps strain.
Defender Lawrence Olum is back after missing the last four matches due to a call-up from the Kenyan national team, though he'll likely be moved into a defensive midfield position after the club sent midfielder Uri Rosell to Sporting CP of the Portuguese Liga on Tuesday on a transfer.
Vermes sees Olum as the best replacement, despite it leaving his already depleted back line without a returning option.
Dom Dwyer, who scored the winning goal against Houston in the second leg of last season's playoff meeting, ranks second in MLS with 10 goals.
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