D.C. United will put its six-game unbeaten streak, its longest in three years, on the line against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
United lost its first two matches this year, but has three wins and three ties in its last six, including a 4-1 win over Red Bull New York last week.
D.C. (3-2-3) has climbed to second in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference and hosts Houston (2-1-2), which reached the MLS Cup last season, this weekend at RFK Stadium.
United went seven straight games without a defeat in April and May in 2009 and could equal that streak against the Dynamo.
Chris Pontius scored a hat trick against New York last week and has four goals this season. He started the season in a wide midfield role, but has started as a forward in the last two.
"I have always said that I just want to be on the field," Pontius said.
With Pontius adding another threat offensively, United overcame New York duo Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, who have combined for 15 goals this season.
"Throughout the season, you're going to have games like this where you are playing a team that's a little down," United boss Ben Olsen said, "and you got to step on them and take advantage of them."
United has also done well defensively, allowing more than one goal in a match just once this season.
"The whole back four was solid; they were connected. We didn't get caught in behind too many times. They defended the box very well," Olsen said after the New York match. "I was very pleased with the way they're coming along."
Houston plays the sixth match of its season-opening seven-game road trip, and with eight points from the first five, has already done well. The Dynamo tied the Columbus Crew, 2-2, in their last match.
Columbus secured 11 points during a seven-game road trip to start 1999, and it is a total that Houston could match with a win in D.C.
Will Bruin, who has developed a partnership with Brian Ching up top, notched a hat trick last time Houston visited United. In addition, midfield general Brad Davis should be available for the match for the Dynamo.
Former United defender Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron solidify one of the top defenses, which has coach Dominic Kinnear confident the club can conclude the season-opening road trip on a positive note over the next two matches.
"We're a team that's been together now and when you look at the last half of last year and the beginning of this year, they don't get rattled," he said.