A pair of interconference rivals will meet on Saturday as the Houston Dynamo welcome the Seattle Sounders to BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo return home after seeing their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end last week thanks to a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Despite the setback, the Dynamo remain in playoff position, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference on 33 points.
The lone goal of the contest came in the 37th minute of play after Houston Adam Moffat upended RSL's Olmes Garcia on an aerial challenge in the box and referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot, resulting in a penalty kick.
Costa Rica international Alvaro Saborio calmly buried the penalty kick to give the lead to the hosts and they held on to maintain the lead in the race for the Supporters Shield.
It was the Dynamo's first loss since a 2-0 setback against Red Bull New York on June 30.
"I thought we had a very good second half. We were a little more aggressive going forward," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. "I thought we had some chances and were good enough to get something out of the game tonight. We had some openings, but weren't able to take advantage of them.
"We had some moments where we were getting in, but our final pass was letting us down a little bit. We made a press towards the end of the game," Kinnear said. "I thought we put ourselves in some good positions, but we just couldn't put the finishing touch on it."
Seattle, meanwhile, enters the contest riding a three-match winning streak following a 2-1 defeat of Toronto FC last week at BMO Field.
The Sounders took the lead in the 16th minute as a cross from Brad Evans found Eddie Johnson at the back post, and he headed back across the box to an unmarked Mauro Rosales, who easily put the ball home.
Former Tottenham man and U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey made his debut for the club in the 34th minute when he came on for an injured Obafemi Martins and Seattle doubled their lead in the 40th minute when TFC defender Doneil Henry redirected a cross by Lamar Neagle into the back of the net for an own goal.
TFC got one back in the second half, but it wasn't enough as Seattle held on for the victory.
"This is the way that we wanted to be," said midfielder Mauro Rosales. "It's something that we have worked very hard to be here. Getting points at this part of the year is really, really important. We have a few games in hand and we need these points."
"I just told Clint to manage his way through those 15 minutes," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said of Dempsey's debut. "'You didn't really get a proper warmup, make sure you don't pull anything,' and then right away he ended up having to make that 70-yard run where he gets in almost with Eddie [Johnson]. But he managed his way through, he's a veteran player and then he was fine for the second half."
"I'm still working on my fitness," Dempsey added. "I've only played in two games and in those two games I played one 45 minutes and one 60 minutes so I'm still trying to get my fitness there. I'm not there yet but I was happy with the touches that I got tonight and the work that I put in, and the chances that I created and hopefully they will start falling for me in the games to come."
In seven all-time meetings between the clubs, Seattle holds a slim 3-2-2 edge, including a 2-0 win on March 23 last season.