Red Bull New York and the Houston Dynamo will hope to get back to winning ways when the two sides meet at Red Bull Arena on Sunday.
The Red Bulls enter the weekend off of back-to-back losses, the last of which was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Union. It is the first time this season that they have recorded successive defeats, and the club's current three-game winless run is the most since it opened the campaign with a four- match run without a victory.
New York played with 10 men for much of Sunday's game against the Union as Lloyd Sam was shown a red card in the 28th minute, but Thierry Henry did not see the sending off as a valid excuse for such a debilitating scoreline.
"Give them credit," the Frenchman said. "They started better than us. We went down to 10 men, but that doesn't mean you have to lose 3-0. We'll see them at home again."
The Red Bulls conceded the opening goal inside the opening 15 minutes of the match for the sixth time this season, tying them for the highest total in the league with D.C. United.
"We talked about that leading up to this," said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. "If we were feeling not as sharp as we should be with the layoff our plan was to hold back and get into a rhythm, but we didn't feel that way coming out. The first four set pieces they got a head on it every time."
Houston is in familiar territory as far as winless streaks go. The Dynamo have not managed a victory from league play since May 8, going six contests without a win.
After five straight games without a clean sheet, the Dynamo maintained a shutout in a scoreless draw with Toronto FC last time out. But head coach Dominic Kinnear was not satisfied with the consolation point.
"They defended well," Kinnear said. "We had some chances, we could've scored some goals and we didn't. It helps to have a veteran team that's motivated to do better. I think that's what we have. As a whole, as a staff and as a team we're not happy right now because you want to win."
It's easy to see why Houston is collectively frustrated at the moment. The Dynamo were held off the board for the fourth time in its last six outings.
"I need to finish my chances," striker Will Bruin said. "We got a shutout, but we got shut out, too. That's getting real frustrating for me as a forward. We need to score plain and simple."
New York and Houston both will be searching for three points in a bid to end their respective poor runs of form, but they also will be aiming to climb closer to the top of the Eastern Conference table.
They enter the match separated by only two points as the Red Bulls (25 points) sit four points adrift of the first-place Montreal Impact while the Dynamo (23 points) follow closely in the final playoff spot.