Adrian Heath is expecting a tight playoff push for his Minnesota United side, who face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Minnesota snapped a two-game losing streak by beating LA Galaxy 3-0 last time out, and they sit seventh in the Western Conference.
However, that is just eight points above 12th-placed Houston, who have taken seven points from the last nine on offer.
Ahead of Saturday’s match, Minnesota coach Heath admitted the run-in is adding extra stress and pressure, but he believes his team are well placed to push on for a postseason place.
He said: “For the coaches, a bit more stressful, I can assure you.
“The one good thing is because we’ve played each other each week, you feel as though even if you don’t get the right result this week, if you get the one next week cause you’re playing another team that’s in and around you, then you’ve got an opportunity.
“I think it’s going to be really, really tight all the way through but I’m really looking forward to the next ten games for sure.”
Houston beat FC Dallas in a Texas derby last time out, and owner Ted Segal had a message for the Dynamo’s fans.
“What I will say, is the culture that I’m trying to imbue here is a culture of winning and that starts first and foremost on the pitch,” a statement posted on Twitter read.
“If we have a commitment to success on the pitch I do think that should translate to a commitment to success in all facets of the organization.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso
Emanuel Reynoso played a starring role for the Loons against the Galaxy, scoring twice from four attempts, while he also created two chances.
Houston Dynamo – Fafa Picault
Fafa Picault has scored in three straight matches and could become the fourth Dynamo player to find the net in four straight appearances.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Minnesota has won both meetings with Houston this season, winning 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road. The Loons had recorded just two wins in their first 10 MLS meetings with the Dynamo (D4 L4).
– Minnesota’s 3-0 win over the Galaxy on Saturday was its seventh clean sheet in 12 home matches this season, the most home clean sheets in MLS. The Loons have allowed just four goals in their last 10 matches at Allianz Stadium.
– The Dynamo have won two of their last three matches (D1) after going 16 straight without a win, the longest single season winless run in MLS history. Houston scored three times in each of those wins after being held under three goals in its previous 38 matches dating back to last September.
– Reynoso scored his first career MLS brace in Minnesota’s 3-0 win over the Galaxy on Saturday with both goals coming from outside the box.
– It was the second time in Minnesota United history that a player scored twice from outside the box in an MLS match, with Darwin Quintero achieving the feat against Toronto FC in July 2018.