The Houston Dynamo will look to snap a two-match losing run on Saturday night when they host a Chicago Fire side that just escaped its own extended slide.
Houston (5-7-3, 18 points) lost 3-0 at Real Salt Lake at the end of May just before the international break began, then followed with a 2-1 defeat at Orlando City when both teams returned from a three-week hiatus.
Sebastian Ferreira scored his team-leading sixth goal in the loss, all of those coming since the beginning of April following a slow start to his first MLS season.
Manager Paulo Nagamura also said he expects defender Tim Parker to return after he exited at halftime with an injury in last weekend's loss in Central Florida.
Complicating Nagamura's preparations are just who might dress for Chicago (3-7-5, 14 points) on Saturday. Star midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is officially listed as questionable with a hamstring issue, and he's just one of several names on the visitors' injury report.
"It really is going to depend on who they put on the field," Nagamura said of what he expects from Saturday's opponent. "I think if Shaqiri plays, of course, he's always going to be a threat. Playing between the lines there, underneath as a forward, he's great."
Chicago manager Ezra Hendrickson said Shaqiri would be available after missing last week's 1-0 win over D.C. United.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Swiss international will start after picking up the injury on national team duty. And if he does, he may not last 90 minutes, now nearly a month removed from his previous complete game played.
Shaqiri or not, Hendrickson is taking comfort in the fact the Fire snapped a 10-match winless run (0-7-3) in their home win over D.C. last weekend.
Fabian Herbers scored the winner in the 78th minute, and young goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina kept his first clean sheet since a 0-0 draw against the LA Galaxy back on April 16.
"Rarely do we say games are must-wins, but if we are honest, we'd say that D.C. game was probably a must-win for us so that we keep guys motivated, keep guys confident," Hendrickson said.
--Field Level Media