When the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes met back in March, the teams scored five goals in a 14-minute stretch as San Jose pulled out a thrilling victory. That remains the only win for the Earthquakes, while the Dynamo have since slowly moved back into serious contention.
Houston (3-2-3) looks to push its unbeaten streak to six games Saturday night when it hosts the stumbling Earthquakes, who will play their first match in two weeks.
On March 28, San Jose (1-5-2) and Houston were scoreless for the first 30 minutes, before the Earthquakes struck three times and the Dynamo scored twice -- all before halftime. Neither team found the back of the net after the break as San Jose won 3-2.
The Earthquakes, who are 0-4-2 in MLS play since their lone victory, are playing without injured star midfielder Darren Huckerby. They have not played since a 4-1 loss at New York on May 8.
"You know, there's really not much to say. Week in week out, we're tired of trying to come up with excuses. I feel for our guys because I believe in them, we've got a good core," Earthquakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. "However, you can see that we kind of miss some players who are out right now."
During the extended time off, coach Frank Yallop held difficult training sessions in an attempt to turn around his club's season. The Earthquakes' five points and 16 goals allowed are tied with FC Dallas for the worst marks in the league.
"We need to make sure that we're not missing anything," Yallop said. "We want to make sure that our mentality is strong. When you work hard in practice, you get good mental strength, and we need that right now. And that's everyone. Players, coaches, we need to knuckle down and work hard, which we are doing."
Yallop's team will be without defender Aaron Pitchkolan, who was suspended one game and fined $250 for "egregious and reckless conduct" in the loss to New York. Jason Hernandez, meanwhile, could make his season debut after being out with a calf strain.
Houston had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 1-all tie at New York last weekend. The Dynamo played a man up over the final 65 minutes and took the lead on Chris Wondolowski's goal in the 78th minute, only to concede the equalizer in the final two minutes.
"In the end, we're unbeaten in five. It's a hard-earned point, and this isn't an easy place to come. And 10 men or not, you still gotta play the game," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "It was a physical game, the guys played very hard."
Houston may have forward Brian Ching back after he did not play last weekend with a hamstring strain. Defender Wade Barrett is expected to miss his third straight match with a calf strain.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press