Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids

It has been a rough start to the season for the Colorado Rapids, but the defending MLS Cup champions have reason to believe things can turn around.

The Rapids expect to have a number of injured players return – including star striker Conor Casey – as they open a three-game road trip Wednesday night against a Houston Dynamo team looking to extend its unbeaten streak to seven games.

Colorado’s front line has been ravaged by injuries, as Casey (hamstring), Mac Kandji (ACL), Quincy Amarikwa (ankle) and Caleb Folan (quadriceps) have all been sidelined. Those four have combined for three of the team’s nine goals, and Casey is the franchise leader with 42.

Without these playmakers, the Rapids (3-3-1) have struggled offensively.

After being shut out in three consecutive losses, Colorado played to a 1-all tie with Chicago on Saturday. Andre Akpan, making his first MLS start, scored in the 49th minute to end the Rapids’ 319-minute scoreless streak.

"While it hasn’t given us all three points, it should give everybody a shot in the arm to move forward," coach Gary Smith said. "We’ve got chances to win games away from home and with players coming back I would hope that we’re not going to be too far away from that."

Colorado, which has scored one goal in going 1-2-0 away from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, is hoping Casey, Folan and Amarikwa will be able to play in Houston.

The Rapids have never won at Robertson Stadium, going 0-5-2 there, but went 1-0-1 in last season’s series. Casey contributed to four of the team’s five goals, scoring two and assisting on two others.

"We’ve got some guys coming back next week to strengthen the group," Smith said. "We’ve got some tough away games. But what you know about this group is that they’re capable of winning anywhere and we’ve got to pick up a couple of results away from home and we’re back on track."

While Colorado has earned just one point in its last four matches, Houston has picked up at least one point in its last six – its longest stretch since an 11-game run April 11-June 20, 2009.

The Dynamo (3-1-3) defeated D.C. United 4-1 on Friday behind Will Bruin’s hat trick. Bruin scored in the fourth, 41st and 57th minutes to become just the fourth rookie in MLS history – and the first for Houston – to record a hat trick.

"He listens and he learns and he wants to get better," coach Dominic Kinnear said of Bruin. "The guys appreciate his energy and effort on the field."

Bruin, who leads the Dynamo with 22 shots, had just one goal in his first six games.

"Tonight I finished, so hopefully we can keep it going," he said.