Bridgeview, IL – The Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire face one another at Toyota Park on Sunday as they jostle for position in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
The two sides are separated by a single point as Houston sits third in the table on 42 points, followed closely by Chicago and D.C. United, which are tied on 41 points apiece.
Chicago enjoyed a three-game winning streak until it was upended in a 4-2 loss at D.C. last time out.
"We gave up easy goals, especially the first and second one," said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "Also, United's third goal dug a deeper hole, which meant that we had to make changes and play a riskier game that left wide open spaces for them. It paid off when we scored our second goal, but it also allowed them to score again. I give credit to D.C. for coming out with good intensity and winning the game."
The loss to D.C. came in a midweek fixture last week, giving the Fire an extra couple of days to revisit mistakes and develop a suitable plan to take points from the Dynamo.
"We have to be more alert and more focused," Klopas continued. "I think that teams must earn the goals they score against us, but some of United's goals were a little soft and we could have prevented them.
"I think that we have to regroup now. We have a little break of ten days, which will let us to get some of our players healthy and allow us to get ready for some big, exciting games coming up."
Houston has some massive games coming up as well. Taking just two points from its last three games, the Dynamo will face Eastern Conference opposition in five of their seven games left after Sunday's tilt with the Fire.
In their most recent outing, the Dynamo conceded a late equalizer to drop two points in a 1-1 draw with lowly Toronto FC, a match that head coach Dominic Kinnear says was a tale of two halves.
"We stopped moving off the ball and were very passive with our movement and very passive with our passing and made it very easy to defend," Kinnear said. "If you look at the goal we scored the movement was wonderful. We had those moments in the second half but there wasn't enough."