If a chance to end the Houston Dynamo's historic home point streak wasn't enough motivation for Sporting Kansas City, Sunday night's match is also an opportunity for the club to exact some revenge for recent postseason exits.
The Dynamo put their MLS-record 36-match home unbeaten streak on the line against Kansas City, which has been eliminated by Houston in the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Sporting KC secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year but lost 2-1 on aggregate goals in the conference semifinals to Houston, the East's bottom seed.
The Dynamo (6-2-2), who have outscored teams 9-3 while going 4-0-1 at home, likely understand Kansas City's psyche. They were defeated in the MLS Cup by the Los Angeles Galaxy in each of the last two years, but seized a 1-0 victory over them last Sunday.
"When it's against us and what we've done to them the last couple years, I'm sure that spurs them on," Houston midfielder Adam Moffat told the team's official website. "It'd spur me on."
Will Bruin scored two goals and assisted on the other two in a 4-0 win at D.C. United on Wednesday. Bruin had goals in back-to-back games last month but hadn't found the back of the net in his last three matches.
"It was just a matter of time,'' Bruin, who finished fifth in the league last season with 16 goals, said of his breakout game. "I knew I had been playing well and contributing in the offense and just not getting goals."
Giles Barnes also scored to push his season total to four, but his status is unclear as he left in the 38th minute with a hamstring injury.
Sporting KC (5-4-2) started the season 4-1-2 but has lost three of four. The club couldn't build momentum from a 4-0 win over Chivas USA last Sunday - its first four-goal game in a span of 68 matches - instead taking a 1-0 home loss to Seattle on Wednesday.
A late defensive breakdown saw Kansas City surrender the only goal in stoppage time.
"It's not anything they did," midfielder Graham Zusi said. "They didn't really have too many sniffs at our goal. Passing was off. Touches were off. Just a poor second half."
Kei Kamara, who paced Kansas City with 11 goals in 2012, made his season debut as a second-half substitute. The former Dynamo midfielder had been on loan to Norwich City in the Premier League.
Though he played just 17 minutes, he adds more potency to an offense that already includes Claudio Bieler, whose six goals have him among the league leaders.
"I knew he'd be disconnected at times," coach Peter Vermes said of Kamara. "It's good to get him out on the field with us, but look, he needs a little time."
Kansas City is 1-5-3 all-time at Houston and hasn't won there since their first meeting on April 8, 2006.
The Dynamo's last defeat at home was June 18, 2011, having since gone 26-0-10 in Houston.