There's still a faint possibility of the Houston Dynamo making a return trip to the postseason this year. Orlando City, though, will have to wait until 2019 at the earliest.
Looking to snap a nine-game winless streak on the road, the Dynamo take on the last-place Lions on Saturday night.
Houston (8-13-7) is in position to record consecutive wins for the first time since late May. Mauro Manotas scored twice and Alberth Ellis collected a goal and an assist to lift the Dynamo to a 4-1 rout of the Portland Timbers last Saturday, snapping a 10-game winless slide.
"We've been going through a lot of difficulties, no doubt about it," coach Wilmer Cabrera told the Houston Chronicle. "Today they showed they believe in themselves and that we're still here."
Manotas (14 goals) and Ellis (11 goals), both forwards, are responsible for more than half of Houston's 47 tallies in 2018. Manotas heads into the weekend tied with Erick Torres for the most goals in a single season by a member of the Dynamo.
"Since the beginning of the year, my goal was to break Erick Torres' record," Manotas told the Chronicle.
Torres set the mark in 2017, when Houston fell in the conference finals. The Dynamo enter play this week ninth in the West, 12 points behind Portland with six games remaining.
A dismal season for Orlando City (7-18-3) may have hit rock bottom with Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Chicago Fire.
The Lions fell for the 12th time in 14 road games and were blanked for the second straight game and ninth time this season.
"I think wasn't a good example of what we want," coach James O'Connor said Wednesday, referring to the matchup with the Fire. "We want to make sure on Saturday we give a better account of ourselves and give a better example of what we want to do."
Orlando is 1-1-1 all-time against Houston but hasn't defeated the club since its inaugural MLS game in 2015. The three matchups include two shutouts and a scoreless draw.
"We need to get out and make sure we have a strong performance and really get after things ... in front of our own supporters," O'Connor said.
Forward Dom Dwyer leads Orlando with 12 goals but has only one in his last four games. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan is second with five goals but hasn't scored in his last six appearances with the club.