Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Seattle Sounders FC will be trying to bring an end to a poor run of form on Sunday when the club welcomes the Houston Dynamo to CenturyLink Field.
Seattle surged to the top of the Western Conference and opened a gap as wide as 10 points at the summit.
However, Sigi Schmid's men have come back to reality a bit in recent weeks, losing three of their last four contests to sit just two points clear of second-place Real Salt Lake entering the weekend.
Houston has struggled for much of the season and the club dropped down the Eastern Conference table after an eight-game winless streak.
But that woeful run came to an end last weekend with a 1-0 win over D.C. United that has Houston hoping for another second-half surge.
The Dynamo has become known as a team that really turns it on in the final few months of the season, and with Houston sitting five points out of a playoff spot in the East, now would be a good time for things to come together.
Houston's win over United came after Will Bruin scored the lone goal of the match in stoppage time, and the team's captain, Brad Davis, was pleased to see his side put in a full 90-minute performance.
"It's been the message that's been sent for a while now," Davis said about playing a complete 90 minutes. "I don't know why we would go out on the field without the utmost confidence. I think Sunday was a game for us to build off. There's no reason for us now to step on the field and lower that level of play."
Another thing that should help Houston is the arrival of United States international DaMarcus Beasley, who made his debut in Sunday's win.
Along with Luis Garrido, who is another new addition, Beasley's arrival creates more competition for places in the team, and Davis thinks that will be another thing that benefits the club.
"When you also start to bring in competition for some spots it also raises some eyebrows," Davis said. "It gets competition going and some blood boiling. You start to peek over your shoulder as well all the time now. It's always a good thing, competition in training, competitions for spots on the weekend."
While Houston is hopeful of going in the right direction, Seattle would love to halt its current skid on Sunday and get back to winning ways.
The Sounders suffered a second straight defeat last time out, losing 1-0 to San Jose on a 42nd-minute goal from Yannick Djalo.
Seattle certainly had chances in the game, but San Jose made the most of a chance in transition to punish the Sounders, costing them any points.
Despite his team's struggles, Seattle forward Clint Dempsey doesn't seem to be too concerned with the level of play, and he chose to look at the positive things his team did against the Earthquakes.
"We're getting good looks. We just have to do a better job of finishing our chances," Dempsey said after the loss. "I think at times tonight you saw us playing a good style. We were moving the ball around. We had some good link-up play. We just have to do a better job in transition play."
Seattle will travel to Real Salt Lake next weekend, and if things don't go well on Sunday, the Sounders could find themselves looking up at Salt Lake when the teams square off next weekend.
Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Marco Pappa and Gonzalo Pineda netted second-half goals on Sunday as Seattle Sounders FC came away with a nervy 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at CenturyLink Field.
After flying high atop the Western Conference standings for most of the season, Seattle has stumbled a bit of late having lost three of their last four matches prior to Sunday.
But Pappa netted in the 69th minute and Pineda followed with a penalty kick conversion six minutes later to make sure the Sounders claimed their 13th victory of the season and improved to 41 points on the season. The club also improved to 11-0-3 at home when the attendance is greater than 40,000.
The Dynamo are headed in the opposite direction as the club failed to generate many quality scoring chances and have lost six consecutive matches away from BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston's best opportunity came in the 24th minute when a strike on goal from the edge of the box by Boniek Garcia was handled by Seattle defender Djimi Traore, resulting in a penalty kick.
Brad Davis stepped up to take it, but failed to beat Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who dove to his left to make the stop.
The hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when Pappa had a go from outside the box that took a fortunate deflection off Houston defender David Horst and beat goalkeeper Tally Hall to the near post.
Seattle then doubled its lead with 15 minutes to play when Obafemi Martins was pulled down in the box by Ricardo Clark, resulting in a point to the spot from referee Chris Penso. Pineda stepped up and blasted it toward the right side netting. Hall got a hand to it, but couldn't keep it out.
Houston was handed a slight lifeline with four minutes to play when Martins was shown his second yellow card and sent off, but the Dynamo couldn't manage to get one past Frei and suffered their 12th loss of the season.