Red Bull New York will be out to improve its horrid road record when it faces the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday.
The Red Bulls are winless in their last two road contests and have posted a record of 4-7-3 away from Red Bull Arena this term, and the prospect of adding a victory to that mark will not come easy against a Dynamo side that is eager to improve its chances of playoff soccer.
"We expect them to be a tough team to play against there, especially at home," Red Bulls midfielder Eric Alexander told a correspondent from the club's official website. "Especially expect them to come out flying, and it should be a good game."
New York is coming off of a 2-1 home defeat of D.C. United. Lloyd Sam played a major part in the win by opening the scoring for the Red Bulls just eight minutes into the match, and the Englishman hopes that the result can spur the team on to a solid performance in a tough road environment.
"At certain times in the season away from home we have not been that great and it's something we've been trying to address," Sam told the club's official site. "So hopefully, we've been working all week on how we're going to play, so maybe that's going to be a difference this week."
The Red Bulls enter the weekend in a three-way tie with Sporting Kansas City and the Montreal Impact for first place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points apiece, five points better than the Dynamo.
And while New York would love to maintain its position at the Eastern Conference summit, Houston will be looking to close the gap and take a major step toward the postseason.
The Dynamo let a tremendous opportunity slip from its grasp midweek when they suffered a 2-0 defeat to the struggling Columbus Crew.
But even in defeat, Houston is choosing to look at the positives with the hopes of regrouping for the massive clash against New York.
"I think the positive thing is that we play on Sunday against New York, a tough team, a team ahead of us, a team we can earn points against," Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell said after the loss. "I think it's good for some of these guys, a guy like (Jason Johnson), a young guy to get out there and get a start. It's good to get some guys minutes, but you never call it a success when you lose. You obviously want to get back out there and go at it again."
In addition to Houston's desire to strengthen its playoff odds, the club will be looking to avenge a 2-0 loss to New York at Red Bull Arena on June 30, the first of three meetings between the two sides this season.