The race for the two wild-card playoff spots in the MLS Eastern Conference has become a four-team affair, and two of those clubs square off at PPL Park on Saturday when the Philadelphia Union play host to the equally struggling Houston Dynamo.
The Dynamo have looked like anything but a reigning two-time MLS Cup participant as they limp into Chester, Pa., on a four-match winless slide. International call-ups have wreaked havoc on their selection options in recent weeks, but even at full strength, the Dynamo have struggled to find consistency.
With Oscar Boniek Garcia back from Honduran national team duty, and Brad Davis back from U.S. national team duty, the Dynamo attack should be able to create more chances and pose more of a threat than they did in last week's 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
Standing in the way is a Philadelphia Union side that is also mired in a four-match winless skid. John Hackworth's side welcomes back standout defender Amobi Okugo from a two-match suspension, while Jack McInerney looks to snap an 11-match goal-less drought. His last goal came June 1, a stretch that the Union have helped offset thanks to the impressive form of veteran striker Conor Casey, who has scored seven of his nine goals during McInerney's drought.
The Union can extend their lead over the Dynamo to five points with a win, while Houston will be looking for a rare road win to catapult themselves back into playoff position. They are currently tied on points with New England for fifth place in the East.
The East clash features several intriguing matchups, including Sheanon Williams' battle with Brad Davis, Okugo's likely tangle with Will Bruin, and Jermaine Taylor's expected tussle with Casey.