After going winless in their last two league matches, the Houston Dynamo got back on track during their CONCACAF Champions League opener this week.
Looking to build on that effort, Houston hopes to resume its ascent in the Eastern Conference standings when it faces Toronto FC - owner of the worst record in MLS and winless in five consecutive league games - on Saturday night.
Houston (11-6-8), unbeaten at home, fell 2-0 to New York on Aug. 10 before playing to a 2-all draw with Columbus on Sunday. Those contests followed a five-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten run that pushed the club into contention for the top spot in the East.
The Dynamo, though, responded three days later with a 3-1 victory over Salvador's FAS in their CONCACAF Champions League Group 3 opener.
Brian Ching, Cam Weaver and Kofi Sarkodie scored for Houston, which went back to its 4-4-2 formation for the first time since June to make the most of its height advantage.
"This is traditionally what Houston's been known to play and it's pretty easy to get back into with Brian and Cam, and all our forwards, to get back into it and do well," midfielder Colin Clark told the league's official website after recording an assist. "When you can get the ball out wide and get service in the box, with the forwards we have on our roster, it's pretty easy to rack up assists."
In a third-place tie with Chicago and three points behind second-place New York in the East, the Dynamo appear to have another favorable matchup in Toronto FC (5-15-5). Houston, 8-0-4 at home in 2012, has outscored Toronto 7-3 in going 2-0-1 over the last three meetings.
All three Toronto goals came in a draw June 20. The club carried a 3-1 lead into halftime but allowed Will Bruin to score twice in the second half.
While Toronto failed to hold that lead, it was a slow start that cost it in a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Wednesday. It gave up the first goal in the fourth minute and trailed 2-0 after 58 minutes.
"It was the exact opposite of what I asked in the dressing room," said interim coach Paul Mariner, whose team has gone 0-4-1 in its last five league games. "It was not being ready to play."
Though Toronto continues to struggle, the Dynamo will likely need to be wary of Luis Silva. The midfielder scored Wednesday and has five goals and four assists in his last nine matches.
"We were supposed to come out sharp, we didn't," Silva told Toronto FC TV after the latest defeat. "We did pick it up ... I just think we (have) to start like we end and take our chances when we have them."
Toronto has been outscored 9-4 during its winless stretch, which began with a 2-0 loss to Houston on July 28.
- Houston Dynamo
- Toronto FC
- CONCACAF Champions League