NYON, Switzerland – The Philadelphia Union's offense seemed a little out of sync playing without its leading scorer last time out.
They're going to need to get their attack sorted out quickly to stay in the hunt for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Union will try to get back on track Saturday night when they host a Houston Dynamo team that is winless on the road.
Philadelphia (8-5-8) had been atop the East for much of July but has since fallen behind Columbus after securing just one point in its last two games. The Union, who visit the Crew in two weeks, played to a 1-all draw with Chicago on Wednesday after losing 2-1 to Colorado last Friday.
Philadelphia was playing its first game Wednesday since announcing Carlos Ruiz was being released, and it showed. The offense managed one shot on goal - a Veljko Paunovic score in the 34th minute - and seemed to miss Ruiz, who had six goals and a team-best 14 shots on goal.
Although the Union squandered a second-half lead against the lowly Fire, they remained upbeat.
"In the end, I think we have to be satisfied with the game," Paunovic told the Union's official website. "We got one point. This was a very hard game for us. So I think one point is not bad."
Philadelphia, 5-1-4 at home, likely won't feel the same way if it doesn't earn a full three points this weekend.
The Dynamo are 0-4-6 away from Houston, one of three MLS teams winless on the road. Shaky defense is one of the biggest reasons for those struggles, as they've yielded at least two goals in three of the last four matches away from Robertson Stadium.
Houston (6-7-9), though, is coming off an impressive 3-1 victory over Seattle last Saturday, just its third win in 15 games (3-6-6).
"I think it's the best we have played this year," coach Dominic Kinnear told the Dynamo's official website.
The win came at a cost, though, as Will Bruin suffered a left knee injury. The rookie forward, tied for the team lead with four goals, had surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Help is on the way, however, as Carlo Costly finalized his international transfer Friday. The 29-year-old forward has scored 18 goals in 48 games for the Honduran national team.
"We're very excited," Kinnear said. "He has pace, power and a nose for goal. I think his passion will come through. Hopefully he can get on the field soon and score some goals for us and help us get to the playoffs and beyond."
The Dynamo lost 1-0 to Philadelphia in the season opener March 19, falling to 0-2-1 all-time in the series.