Two of the league's best offenses will meet Saturday night when Minnesota United FC plays at the Houston Dynamo.
It's also a meeting of two of the league's worst defenses, though Houston's nine goals allowed — third-most in Major League Soccer — is a hefty 13 fewer than United's league-leading 22. The goals-for column is a little more level. Houston ranks third with 11 while the Loons are fourth with 10 scores.
"Going forward has not been an issue, and I'm very confident that if we can get the ball in the box, we have the people to score goals," United coach Adrian Heath said. "It's been the other end that's been the issue.
"And as I say, I think we're getting better. This is a big game for us, and I think if we show the belief in our play that we've showed this week and last week, I think that we can go and get a result."
Its shaky defense aside, United leads the league with 31 shots on goal through six games and is tied for second with 77 total shots. Granted, the Loons have played a match or two more than most teams. But the team's attack has been a glimmering beacon of hope in an otherwise historically bad 1-4-1 start.
Houston (3-2-0) is tied for fourth with 26 shots on goal out of 57 total shots. The team sports the current Golden Boot leader, forward Erick Torres, who has six goals through five matches from seven shots on goal. Midfielder Alex is the co-leader in assists with four.
United forward Christian Ramirez is fourth in the league with four goals. He is also fifth with 18 shots and third with eight on goal.
While both United and Houston endured shutouts last week for the first time in 2017, Ramirez said that clean sheet was a product of an amazing goalkeeping performance from FC Dallas and not a sign of the Loons' attack slowing down.
"Sometime the goals are going to dry up," Ramirez said. "But if we just continue to stick with it, a bounce will go our way."
Ramirez and left winger Bashkim Kadrii have played in every match for United, with fellow attackers Johan Venegas and Kevin Molino missing only one each because of national team duty. Ramirez said that consistency — as opposed to the defense, which has seen many changes — has helped the front four develop an understanding of when each is going to make runs or pass.
One part of that lineup that has rotated a bit is the left wing, with Kadrii starting four matches and Miguel Ibarra starting two. While neither has really staked an undeniable claim to the position, Heath said both are important.
"We've got an abundance of strikers. It's probably six into three [spots]. So it's difficult," Heath said. "I feel as though we are now starting to get more out of our attackers, and I think the fact that [forward Abu Danladi] is pushing everybody, I think that will make it even better."
Danladi has often come on as a late-second-half substitute for Kadrii, and Heath said the No. 1 draft pick is edging closer and closer to starting minutes. But Ramirez said just because Kadrii is the only one of the main top four yet to score a goal doesn't mean he isn't contributing.
"People tend to think he hides in games, but he's pinning back the right back and creating that space for Johan or myself or Molino to get involved," Ramirez said. "So I think some of that work has gone unnoticed, maybe just because it's not on the stat sheet."