Looking to build on an impressive road victory over the MLS leaders, Minnesota United are in position to move back into second place in the Western Conference.
The Loons can do so with a second straight road victory Wednesday night against the Houston Dynamo, who are trying to avoid going winless in an eighth consecutive match.
Minnesota (13-9-6, 45 points) should be eager for a return to an MLS pitch after winning 2-0 at Los Angeles FC on Sept. 1. Mason Toye (six goals) scored in the 25th and 29th minutes as the Loons became the first team to beat mighty LAFC on their home ground and at the same time moved closer to the club's first playoff berth.
"We were really pleased with the players after the game in L.A., but as soon as we got back in the dressing room, from the coaching staff, (we were) talking about let's get our minds fixed, purely and simply, on Houston," coach Adrian Heath told Minnesota's official website. "And prepare ourselves, because every game is going to be crucial between now and the end of the season."
Minnesota, which snapped an 0-2-1 road rut with the win, sits third in the West, but only one point behind second-place Seattle. Though the Loons are 0-2-1 all-time at Houston in league play, they beat the Dynamo 1-0 in the reverse fixture on May 25 and 3-2 on the road in the U.S. Open Cup in June.
After a promising 7-2-2 start, Houston (9-15-4, 31 points) is 2-13-2 since and has been outscored 15-6 during its current 0-6-1 stretch. The Dynamo conceded a goal in the 12th minute at Sporting Kansas City in their most recent defeat, 1-0 on Aug. 31.
"It's been a rough stretch, and a rough couple of weeks with everything happening within the club," Dynamo defender Adam Lundkvist said. "We have to work and keep growing."
Houston returns home to BBVA Stadium, where it played Colorado to a 2-2 draw in its most recent match there on Aug. 17. Star Mauro Manotas, who did not feature versus SKC and reportedly is drawing interest from a European club, has scored nine of his team-leading 11 goals at home this season.