While the Houston Dynamo have some work to do in order to move back into playoff position, their task doesn't seem as daunting as the one the Chicago Fire face.
Looking to rebound from their most recent defeat, the Dynamo hope to continue their home success over a Fire side that has not won on the road in well more than a year.
Houston (9-10-3) enters the weekend's matchday one point below the playoff line in the Western Conference. That's because the Dynamo are just 3-9-2 since opening the season 6-1-1.
After snapping an eight-game road losing streak with a 3-1 victory at Toronto FC on July 20, Houston took another step back on a 1-0 home loss to Seattle last weekend. It was Houston's second straight home defeat after going the first 10 there without a loss, and the second in three overall games that it did not score.
Though Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera thought Seattle's goal in the 59th minute was preceded by a Sounders' foul, he also understands his side has probably not done much to warrant many breaks from the referee or otherwise.
"Now, we need to focus on no mistakes," he told the MLS official website. "Zero mistakes … We cannot make one mistake."
It's also because scoring goals has been an issue of late for the Dynamo, who have just 12 in their last 11 league games. The good news for Houston is that forward Alberth Elis (seven goals) should be available after serving a two-game suspension.
It also might help that Dynamo are 6-0-4 at home against Chicago since losing the first two matches the teams ever played there back in 2006 and 2007. The Fire (5-10-9), second-to-last in the East table, are a stunning 0-17-6 on the road since winning at Orlando City on May 26, 2018.
It's Chicago's longest MLS road stretch without a win since the remarkable 0-27-9 rut that spanned the 2014, '15 and '16 seasons. The Fire, who have been outscored 8-1 during their current four-game MLS road losing streak, have also been blanked in their last two contests while amid an 0-3-2 overall stretch since winning 5-1 over Atlanta United FC on July 3.
Chicago did manage a point, however, in a scoreless draw with D.C. United last weekend at home.
"We kept a clean sheet in the back, and that's always something to build on," veteran defender and Chicago newcomer Jonathan Bornstein told the Fire's broadcast after his team debut against United. "But, we really need our points right now. "
Chicago's C.J. Sapong has just one of his team-leading nine goals over his last five contests.