The Houston Dynamo aim to continue their ascent up the Eastern Conference table on Saturday when the club welcomes the Columbus Crew to BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston enters Saturday's clash riding a modest three-match unbeaten streak in league play to sit in sixth place in the East on 30 points, four astray from the final playoff berth. But with a win, the Dynamo can jump into playoff positioning.
Last time out, the Dynamo grinded out a 1-1 draw with a resilient Chicago Fire side at BBVA. After a scoreless first half, the Dynamo opened the scoring in the 61st minute when All-Star Brad Davis sent a nice low cross into the box where Cam Weaver was there to tap it in for his first goal of the season.
But the Dynamo were unable to hold the lead as just three minutes later, Chicago drew level when Talisman Mike Magee latched onto a nice feed from Patrick Nyarko and rolled it past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Weaver's tally for the Dynamo was his first since May 28, 2011, and head coach Dominic Kinnear felt his player was due to find the back of the net.
"I thought he was due for a goal," Kinnear remarked. "I'm sure he's frustrated at times but he was a big part of what we were trying to do tonight. He works hard every day. He wants to be on the field. He wants to make a positive impact, and tonight I'm happy for him."
Houston will also be getting some much-need offensive firepower back as forward Will Bruin will be back in the squad after his stint with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup.
Bruin has amassed four goals and three assists to lead the club, and his return will be crucial as the team makes a push for the playoffs in the second half of the season.
"It's like a new start for me, that's the way I look at it now," he said. "Before I left I don't think we had a full squad, we'd been battling a lot of injuries, a lot of guys had been gone with national team duty. So I think coming up this weekend we're going to have our full squad available for selection. Hopefully guys stay healthy this week and we're going to turn some things around."
Columbus, meanwhile, comes into Saturday's match struggling, having dropped five of their last six league matches and sits in eighth place in the East, seven points adrift of a playoff spot.
Last week, the Crew jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the road against Toronto FC thanks to a Dominic Oduro goal, but failed to hold the lead as Jonathan Osorio and Andrew Wiedeman scored in the final five minutes as the Reds snuck past the Crew by a 2-1 count at BMO Field.
"The first 45 minutes was much better than the second 45 minutes," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said. "They made two substitutions and tried to get a goal. We defended pretty well but then we forgot that we are here just to score goals too We can't defend for 45 minutes without being successful so I thought we were punished for that."
Saturday's match also marks the first game under new owners Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV), which purchased the team from the Hunt Sports Group last Tuesday.
"We have a long list of goals. We want to make this team a standard-bearer in Major League Soccer, one of the gems. It's a very healthy franchise, but we've got a lot of plans to make it even stronger," said PSV chairman Anthony Precourt.
In 15 all-time meetings between the sides, Columbus holds a 4-2-9 mark. Most recently, the clubs battled to a 1-1 stalemate at Crew Stadium on June 1.