It is a second week in a row that the Columbus Crew face a struggling opponent in a game they are expected to win. Last week the Black and Gold travelled to Montreal and fell 2-0 to the previously four-win Impact. This week they welcome in Chivas USA who currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference.
"It's a little bit different when the books are flipped and you're expected to win and that's something that we need to deal with" Crew captain Michael Parkhurst said. "We need to be able to go out there and take it to them on Sunday."
It has been a nightmare last year for the Goats. After a lawsuit was fired against former owner Jorge Vergara for telling staff members that those who didn't speak Spanish would be fired, the league took over the franchise and are looking to sell to a local owner with a rebrand in mind. In 2014, Chivas has only won six games and sits on 24 points.
It seems there is not much to play for out west for CUSA who sit 10 points back of the playoffs this year, but Parkhurst believes this could make them a more difficult team in this game.
"From what I've seen, obviously they've struggled," he said.
"Those teams sometimes are desperate and desperate teams can sometimes be difficult to play against because those guys are playing for their jobs for next season."
Desperate is a good word for the Goats who are seeking their first win since a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 12. Chivas nearly made history this season is a negative way with a 597-minute goalless streak that ended in the second half of their Wednesday contest with the Seattle Sounders where they managed two goals.
"I think you could look at it a couple of ways," Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the Goats ending the scoreless run.
"You could say that they lost 4-2. That it's negative. That they got beat again, they gave up four goals again. I think they're going to be looking at it in a positive way. In the second half they beat Seattle 2-0 and they played a good second half of that game.
"We're concerned with them. We know it's going to be a good team and our objective is to take it to them. To be aggressive. To really go out there and set the tone of the game."
The goal drought was ended without the services of leading scorer Erick Torres, who missed Wednesday's game on duty with the Mexican national team. Torres, and his 14 goals this season, will not make the trip to Columbus either but Berhalter believes the Goats have other options.
"[Felix Borjao] I know from my time in Germany; he's a quality player," he said.
"I don't think he's gotten a lot of exposure yet in the MLS, but he's a good player. He's very aggressive one v. one. He's very good in the air and he's a real piece to their team. They miss Torres obviously because his record so far of scoring, but I think they have some good alternatives."
Behind Torres, no player has more than two goals on the season but it could be a familiar face who comes back to bite the Crew. Ryan Finley was traded from Columbus to Chivas in May and the forward opened his account for the Goats on Wednesday night.
"He hasn't played a whole lot," Berhalter said of Finley. "He started last game, he had a good game. He was active and got the goal on the penalty. He had a couple other chances, he had their most dangerous chance in the first half. He's been doing well."
It is reasonable to think Finley will be ready to go against his former team, but who will lineup around him is the question. Chivas has dealt with injuries all season and has had to adjust their lineup accordingly. The Black and Gold are looking to take advantage of this to help them in the standings despite this being a cross-conference battle.
"As much as the Eastern Conference games are important, this is another opportunity where there's three huge, important points to get us where we want to be and hopefully make the playoffs," defender Eric Gehrig said.
It may not be a six-point swing like many of the Crew's recent games, but three points is still a necessity. Columbus is a dogfight for a playoff spot with seven teams within five points of each other in the Eastern Conference.
The Black and Gold are counting on their return home to get them back on form after two straight big wins at Columbus Crew Stadium. If they can turn fortunes around and get things on the right track, it could be a big three points before they head into the final stretch of the season against all Eastern Conference opponents.