After having its six-match unbeaten streak snapped with a 2-1 Texas Derby loss at FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo host injury-plagued Minnesota United on Saturday night.
The Dynamo (3-3-5, 14 points) have recorded four straight victories over Minnesota (5-4-2, 17 points) at home including a 3-0 victory on Sept. 2 behind a pair of goals by Ariel Lassiter and another by ex-Loon Darwin Quintero. Marko Maric finished with four saves to give Houston its third shutout in the last four games against Minnesota at BBVA Stadium.
The Loons, who had won back-to-back games over FC Dallas (3-2) and Real Salt Lake (4-0), come in off a 1-0 loss to Western Conference leader Sporting Kansas City.
Minnesota has eight players on its injury list including six that are listed out led by midfielders Ethan Finlay and Osvaldo Alonso (both undisclosed), starting goalie Tyler Miller (season-ending hip surgery), defender Ike Opara (undisclosed) and forward Luis Amarilla (ankle). Two other starters -- midfielder Jacori Hayes (leg) and forward Aaron Schoenfeld (calf) -- are listed as questionable.
That puts the spotlight squarely on 21-year-old forward Mason Toye, the seventh overall pick of the 2018 MLS Super Draft, to pick up the scoring up front. Toye has one goal in seven appearances and five starts this season after making a big splash with two goals in a 2-0 victory over the LA Galaxy last September.
"The consistency of his play has got to be better than it is at the moment," Loons coach Adrian Heath said. "It's either very good or it's poor, and we need it somewhere in between and on a more regular performance."
According to multiple reports, the Loons completed a trade for striker Kei Kamara from the Colorado Rapids on Friday for allocation money and a draft pick. But Kamara, who has three goals in nine games this season and ranks fifth all-time in MLS history with 129 goals, will have to go through a quarantine process for COVID-19 which will likely keep him out for several games.
Houston is expected to be without forward Alberth Elis who is rumored to be transferring to Boavista in Portugal. Elis has four goals and three assists in six games.
"To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure, it sounds like something is going to happen with Alberth," Houston coach Tab Ramos said of the potential transfer. "But at this point I can't really expand on that because I really don't know."
--Field Level Media