On Sunday, the New England Revolution have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals in front of their home fans. They have a very good chance in fact after defeating the Columbus Crew 4-2 on the road last Saturday, putting them well ahead in the race to move on.
Due to the playoff format, the Crew would need to win by three goals or win by two, but score five in the process. So how do these teams play this game knowing what needs to be done to advance?
It would be hard to find two teams in MLS that stuck to their style more than these two clubs. Both teams prefer to play a possession style that requires the other team to chase the ball, as they are pulled apart. It is a very patient method, but can yield results.
For Columbus, there is a need for goals. Throughout the season, the Black and Gold played with one striker with another attacking, creative player - usually Federico Higuain - in behind the front man. Does head coach Gregg Berhalter change his tactics that have gotten his team this far?
"We're certainly considering different options," he told the gathered media this week. "How we can put as much pressure on them early on as possible."
While the Crew have lined up with only one striker and played their normal game for much of the year, Berhalter does point out that things change throughout the game and there have been times his team has needed to press in order to get a goal.
"Going into it, you have different tactics while you're in the game and as the result changes," he said. "But going into a game from the start, to have to score three goals makes it challenging."
At some level though, the Black and Gold are who they are and they may have to live or die by that sword, at least to start the game.
"I think we're going to approach the game just like we've approached every game this year," midfielder Ethan Finlay said,
"Obviously there's different scenarios and different situations that we're going to be in but I think at the start of the game, we're going to approach the game no differently than we have this season."
Although they don't like to think of it much, the Crew might be able to take something from their midseason struggles. During the summer months, Columbus often trailed in games and had to push forward to get an equalizer. That may come into play in this game if they don't get an early goal or two.
For the Revolution, the game will be the opposite. While Columbus must score three goals, New England only needs to prevent them from doing so, but how do they approach the game? Like Berhalter, Revolution head coach Jay Heaps tends to stick with his system, but will he go more defensive in order to get the necessary result?
"I'm not sure they're going to change much," Berhalter said of New England. "They have a game plan that was successful the first time. If they execute it, they'll probably be in good shape."
It worked on the road so why wouldn't it work at home? That seems to be the consensus around the Crew's training facility. Expect the Revolution to do what they've done all season.
"I expect them to come out and play very aggressive again," Finlay said. "I think they're at home. I think they know if they can score a goal or two, they feel like it could be over. I think they'll come on aggressive. I don't think you'll see a defensive team."
An early goal from New England would be a killer for the Black and Gold, but if they elect to open the game a bit more, it could benefit the away side.
"I would try and come out and get an early go so they can finish us," Hector Jimenez said.
"If they come out like that, I think it's an advantage for us because the game will open up quick and try and get an early goal in the first 15, 20 minutes. It's on from there."
Berhalter said throughout the season that his team does better against teams that come out to play soccer as opposed to those that sit back. This will certainly be something for Heaps and his staff to consider on Sunday at 5:00 PM