The Houston Dynamo's new stadium is quickly becoming one of MLS' toughest venues for opponents to visit. When it comes to facing the Chicago Fire, though, it really hasn't mattered where the Dynamo play.
Houston will try to stay unbeaten at home Tuesday night when it meets Chicago, which is looking to win four straight for the first time in seven years.
The Fire may be surging, but they are 1-6-3 in the last 10 meetings with the Dynamo and winless in the past four, including a 1-1 draw at home April 15.
Houston (6-6-5) improved to 4-0-2 at home this season with a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday. Brian Ching, who came on as a substitute, scored the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick in the 83rd minute, and Tally Hall made one save.
Ching's goal was his second of the season after he recorded six in 24 games during 2011. He had been held off the scoresheet in the previous five home games.
"It was special," Ching told the team's official website. "I know every game the crowd has been cheering for me to get one. I'm thankful for that. They're behind me. I'm just happy that the ball went in and we got the three points."
The game also provided a lift for Houston's struggling back line, which had failed to provide much protection for Hall over the previous four games. Hall had given up 11 goals during that stretch, including seven in the two games prior to Saturday.
Three of the Dynamo's final four games in June were at home, and four of their first five in July also are at BBVA Compass Stadium, which opened in May. This stretch provides Houston with a good opportunity to make a move in the standings, beginning against Chicago (8-5-3), which sits four points ahead of Houston for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
While the Dynamo are one of two teams without a home loss, the Fire are 0-3-1 in their last four visits to Houston.
However, they've won three straight overall, including a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Friday.
Sean Johnson made five saves to earn his second shutout of the season while Marco Pappa tied Dominic Oduro for the team lead with his fifth goal.
The Fire haven't won four straight since June 26-July 9, 2005.
"Anytime you can win back-to-back games in this League, it's a good feat," forward Chris Rolfe said. "It is such a competitive league so that doesn't happen too often for most teams. For us to do that now to start the summer when we really have to grind through the middle of the season, that's really big for us."
Improved defense is a big reason for Chicago's winning streak, allowing two goals in those three games after giving up seven in its previous four league matches.