The Los Angeles Galaxy will try rebound from successive losses when the club squares off against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Sunday.
After an abysmal start to the season, the Galaxy looked to be back on track with three straight wins against the Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
But the reigning MLS Cup champions slipped back into the poor form exhibited in the first few months of the season, dropping successive results to the San Jose Earthquakes and Philadelphia Union in disappointing fashion.
The Galaxy held a two-goal lead over the Earthquakes but surrendered three unanswered goals to lose the California Clasico 4-3. Philadelphia's Michael Farfan heaped more misery on L.A. by bagging a winner deep into second-half stoppage time to see the Union claim a 2-1 win at The Home Depot Center on Independence Day.
"We gave the game away [Wednesday]," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "That's a game we should have walked away comfortably with three points, in my opinion.
"Too many chances in the first half that were wasted, poor concentration at the end of the first half cost us a goal and just an extremely poor effort at the end of the game to get exposed and to give up the point we worked so hard to get."
The result is largely indicative of the Galaxy's season thus far, often getting the better of open play but dropping points due to costly mistakes at crucial times.
"We've lost a bunch of games by a goal, a bunch of games we should have won," Arena continued. "We should be a team sitting on 30 some odd points.
"This is not about playing poorly for 18 games, this is about playing poorly in a couple of spots in 18 games that have cost us severely and [Wednesday], in my view, there's a bunch of chances we had to take in the first half to comfortably position ourselves in the game and instead we go to halftime down a goal."
Los Angeles heads to Toyota Park at the wrong time as Chicago is in the midst of a four-game unbeaten run. Most recently, the Fire claimed a hard-fought point in a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo.
Chicago showed a great deal of resolve to hold on to the draw despite managing less than 40 percent of the possession and playing with temperatures in the mid-90s.
"We wanted to make sure with the players we put in that we played shorter passes rather than longer passes so we wouldn't get stretched," head coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. "I think it's the same for both teams. We have trained in this situation in Chicago, but it's difficult when you are playing three games in nine days."
The impressive four-game unbeaten has seen Chicago stake its claim for fourth place in the Eastern Conference as the club enjoys a four-point lead over fifth-place Houston while sitting five points adrift of D.C. United in first place.