Portland (0-3-4) at Houston (2-4-1), 3 p.m.
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling sides meet on Sunday in an interconference tilt as the Portland Timbers visit BBVA Compass Stadium to battle the Houston Dynamo.
After winning the regular-season Western Conference title last season with 57 points, the 2014 campaign has been the exact opposite for Caleb Porter's team through seven games.
Their latest setback came at the hands of Real Salt Lake last weekend, a 1-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium, to keep the side searching for its first three- point effort of the season.
The Timbers played a gritty game in a difficult environment, but fell behind with 12 minutes to play when Ned Grabavoy cut into the penalty area and beat Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to the bottom right corner.
Portland threw numbers forward looking for an equalizing goal and forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando into several outstanding saves, but Portland couldn't grind out a result.
"It's all about results and we've got to step up and make plays," Timbers midfielder Will Johnson said. "There are plays out there that are there to be made. We have to face the reality that we have to be better."
"Defensively, we kept the ball, we frustrated them, but attacking-wise, it's not good enough. You're never going to win a game if you can't score goals, so we've got to find a way to do even better than we did. For me, it's not good enough. Saying that, we did well, but seems to be the case every single week now. So it has to change. It's just quite simply not good enough."
Houston is also struggling entering Sunday's clash, coming off a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena.
The Dynamo looked the better side in the first 10 minutes, but New York seized control in the 12th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips side-footed home a cross from Thierry Henry.
Wright-Phillips was at it again 12 minutes later. More quality passing allowed for Roy Miller to win the ball down the left before the Costa Rican picked out Wright-Phillips at the near post for a first-time finish.
Henry buried his third of the season in the 65th minute and Wright-Phillips completed his hat trick with a penalty kick five minutes from time. Wright- Phillips became the first English player to score a hat trick in MLS.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear lamented his club's lack of finishing.
"We had chances," Kinnear said. "Teams are not going to jump out of the way and let us score. It's difficult to do. Sometimes they come in bunches like they were at the beginning of the season, sometimes they're hard to come by. We had [enough] chances tonight that I think we were good for a goal."
"Defensively if we shore up and do a good job it makes it easier for everyone else on the field," goalkeeper Tally Hall said. "It's too easy to look forward and say I wish you guys would've scored five goals, of course, but you can't just give away goals. It makes it too easy for another team to sit in and control the game."
The loss extends Houston's winless run in league play to five consecutive matches. Their last victory came on March 15, a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact.