For the third time in four weeks, the Houston Dynamo will face a Western Conference playoff contender as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle is tied on points with the Dynamo, with 19 points thanks to a 5-1-4 record, but Houston sits above them in the Western Conference table by virtue of having more wins.
Houston will be looking for its first-ever win at CenturyLink Field. They've gone 0-7-2 there in regular-season play and 0-1-1 in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Despite the past struggles, a win or a draw would push the Dynamo over the 20-point mark through nine games, which would be the quickest to 20 points in team history.
To get that elusive first win in Seattle, the Dynamo will likely need a strong performance from star forwards Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas. Elis, in particular, has been virtually unstoppable in recent weeks. Over the last six matches, the Honduran international has scored, assisted on or created 13 of Houston's last 14 goals.
Not to be outdone, Manotas already has five goals and four assists on his own account through the first eight matches of the season. The young Colombian bagged a brace in Houston's 2-1 win over FC Dallas last weekend to up his career total to 40, making him the fourth player in club history to score at least 40 goals. He's one back of former Dynamo star Brad Davis and 10 behind current Sounders forward Will Bruin, who starred in orange from 2011-16.
Bruin, who has two goals in four appearances this year, has been lethal against his former team, with four goals in five appearances against the Dynamo across all competitions. Stopping him, as well as fellow attacking stars Raul Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, will be crucial to Houston's chances for success on Saturday night. Houston's back line has enjoyed consistency this season, with the same back four starting in six of Houston's eight matches so far this year. Left back Adam Lundkvist has started all eight contests, while right back A.J. DeLaGarza and center backs Kiki Struna and Maynor Figueroa have each started seven of eight.
Saturday's match kicks off a stretch of three in eight days, as the Dynamo return home to take on Portland Timbers FC midweek before welcoming Wayne Rooney and D.C. United the following Saturday. The club record through 11 matches is 21 points in 2009, so if Houston can capture three or more points over the next three matches, they can keep the best season start in club history going.