The two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo went six weeks before notching their first victory in 2008. A busy schedule and the absences of some key players haven't stopped them from overcoming those early struggles.
Playing for the third time in eight days, the Dynamo hope the return of some of those players can help them move into first place in the Western Conference on Wednesday night when they visit D.C. United.
The Dynamo (3-3-5) went 0-2-4 in their first six matches, a disappointing start for a club that has won both MLS Cups since its move to Houston from San Jose.
Houston, however, snapped its winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Colorado on May 10, launching a 3-1-1 stretch that has pulled the Dynamo back into contention in the West. They're tied for second, one point behind the Rapids.
"The way we started off, I think we were a little disappointed in how we started the season," forward Brian Ching told the club's official Web site. "But since then, we just put our heads down and have gotten back to playing how we are capable. Now we are working as a team and battling for results. I think in the past few games, you have really seen that."
The Dynamo continued their resurgence with a 1-0 victory over New York on Saturday.
Midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and starting goalie Pat Onstad missed that game because they were with the Canadian national team, and defender Eddie Robinson was suspended after getting two yellow cards in a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas last Wednesday. Team captain Wade Barrett was also out because of a left adductor injury.
"The games are adding up, but I think we are doing a good job of rotating some guys and getting our rest off the field and making sure we are prepared for the games," said midfielder Stuart Holden, who assisted on Ching's goal Saturday.
"We have always known that we have a deep squad, and it has helped carry us to two championships. We have a deep squad again this year and everyone has been asked to play a part."
While their depth has been an asset, the Dynamo might not need to rely on it as much against United (3-7-1). De Rosario, Onstad and Robinson will be available Wednesday, and Barrett could return as well.
That's bad news for United, who are in last in the Eastern Conference with 10 points.
D.C., though, has recorded a point in back-to-back games following a strong showing in a 1-0 road loss against Toronto FC on May 21. After beating Toronto 3-2 at home on May 24, United played New England to a 2-2 draw on Thursday night.
"It's getting better for us," midfielder Clyde Simms told United's official Web site. "These are the three best games we've played this season, starting in Toronto."
United and the Dynamo split their two league games last season. Houston also beat D.C. in SuperLiga competition.