Houston, TX – The Houston Dynamo lost their first match since mid-June last weekend at Red Bull New York, but quickly turned their attention to the Columbus Crew.
Houston lost 2-0 at Red Bull New York last weekend as its five-game win streak and eight-match unbeaten streak snapped. But still in the thick of the race in the Eastern Conference, last season's MLS Cup runner-up focused on the future.
"I still think we're one of the most difficult teams to break down and score on," Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall said. "We still have the momentum that we've built in the last month-and-a-half. That's where we are going, forward, with the confidence that we can start a run all over."
Houston (11-6-7) sits just three points off the pace in the East, and after it failed to end a season-long home unbeaten streak for New York, will attempt to defend its own home unbeaten mark Sunday against Columbus.
The Dynamo are unbeaten at new BBVA Compass Stadium in 11 matches this season, and their overall streak at home dates back to last year to Robertson Stadium.
Houston has maintained its form despite the loss of center back Geoff Cameron to Stoke City of the English Premier League, but will get a boost against the Crew if Ricardo Clark makes his return.
Clark, who used to play for the Dynamo, returned from Europe this summer and will be a key cog in midfield for the rest of the season. He could return for the match against the Crew.
And it would not be a surprise to see humble Houston return to the win column.
"We weren't boasting when we were winning and we're not going to hang our heads because we lost a game," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We've got an important game against Columbus ... and that's the most important thing."
Columbus (8-8-5) visits Houston after an emotional tie against the Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend. The Crew played for the first time since the death of 22- year-old midfielder Kirk Urso.
"We talked about focusing on the game and that it will be something we won't forget. Obviously, the three points were not the most important thing today. I think there was a bigger thing we were playing for," Crew boss Robert Warzycha said.
The Crew could also debut a new addition as designated player Federico Higuain joined the team earlier this week.
If Higuain can make a quick transition into the lineup, Columbus is in a great spot to make a late run. The Crew are tied for the fewest games played in MLS, and could easily climb from seventh with a nice stretch of results.
With the emotions from last week's 1-1 draw and a solid performance to build upon, Columbus could turn a win against Houston into the spark it needs to be a factor this season.
"If we work with that kind of spirit, if we fight like that throughout the year, not only are we going to win more games than we lose but we're going to be honoring Kirk's memory pretty well," Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven said.