Two clubs at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings clash on Wednesday as D.C. United hosts the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium.
Houston extended its unbeaten run in league play to four consecutive matches on Sunday after a 56th-minute strike from Andrew Driver lifted the Dynamo to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in a rematch of the past two MLS Cup finals.
Los Angeles had the better of the play in the first half and had an excellent chance to take the lead when Landon Donovan stepped up to take a penalty kick against Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
But Donovan looked unsure of himself and hit a weak shot headed toward the right side of the net that Hall was able to stop rather easily.
"I think that was the third penalty he's taken on me and he's gone left the two times before," Hall said. "He's good enough to switch it back and forth but he's a smart enough player to remember that's been successful for him. I wish I could have had the other two but I'll take this one tonight."
Driver gave the Dynamo the lead when he ran onto a loose ball just outside the box and ripped a left-footed shot past LA goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to the near post for the 1-0 advantage and the visitors held on for their first road win of the season.
"In the first 20 minutes they were getting behind us and got the penalty," Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "After that we slowed it down a little bit, played some good stuff. I thought Will (Bruin) and Giles (Barnes) worked a good partnership tonight and caused some problems. We were organized, we defended well, the gaps between lines weren't too big. Overall, I was very pleased with it."
D.C. United, meanwhile, desperately needed the week off after a 3-0 drubbing by Columbus the week before which plunged the club further into the basement of the Eastern Conference.
United has not won since a 1-0 result against Real Salt Lake on March 9 and are riding a six-game winless run heading into Wednesday's clash.
But United are staying positive despite a less-than-desirable start to their season.
"Mentally, it's just about getting back to the basics, having fun, enjoying the game," said veteran defender Dejan Jakovic. "Hopefully we can bring some of that success to the field."
"We're in this together and it's a tough time for everybody, but that doesn't mean at times we can't still have a smile on our face and try and enjoy our jobs," United coach Ben Olsen added. "But it has to be still with this hunger and focus of turning this thing around. The balance was good this week. We'll see. The test is Wednesday, not how we do this week."
United also hopes to get some good news on the injury front as midfielder Nick DeLeon, who missed several weeks with an injury, is close to returning to full fitness.
"It's always nice to see some fresh faces coming back out to training when you're going through a tough stretch with injuries," Olsen said.