Spencer returns to Houston as Dynamo host Timbers

Several familiar faces will be returning to Robertson Stadium on Sunday when the Houston Dynamo host the Portland Timbers.

Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala were traded from Houston to Portland on July 21st. The trade reunited the players with former Dynamo assistant coach John Spencer.

Now head coach of the Timbers, the match will mark Spencer's first game back in Houston.

"To be honest, I still feel very strange watching the team play on the field and on television and not being a part of it," Spencer said. "They're the first result I look for every weekend - it's going to be a hard thing for me coming [back]."

Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall could just be placing added pressure on the players, but he expects big time performances from Palmer and Chabala.

"I expect those guys are going to have the best games of their seasons," Hall told MLSsoccer.com. "They're going to be flying around and they're going to want it, so we'll have to match them because this is an important game coming down the stretch."

It is certainly an important match for both teams.

Portland, unbeaten in its last four regular season matches, has managed 26 points from 22 contests in its debut MLS season. Houston has accumulated 28 points from its 23 matches, enough for fifth place in the East before Saturday's league action.

Coming off of a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union, Houston will be buoyed by the fact that it is playing at home. All six of the Dynamo's wins have come at Robertson Stadium, which doesn't bode well for a Timbers team that has just one road win in 2011.

Timbers striker Kenny Cooper recorded his first goal since April 30th, as he opened the scoring in the club's most recent outing, a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. The performance prompted him to clearly state the team's objective for the remainder of the season.

"We want to make the playoffs," Cooper said after the win.

If both clubs are after postseason play, they will need to start picking up points down the stretch.