Washington, D.C. – D.C. United is on the verge of making it to the MLS postseason for the first time in five years.
All it needs is three points against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium on Saturday.
The stakes will be high as the Columbus is still alive in the playoff hunt. The Crew played to a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City last time out, leaving them one point adrift of the Houston Dynamo for the final postseason berth.
Columbus certainly poses a legitimate threat to United's playoff hopes, but D.C.'s five-game unbeaten run coming at a crucial time signifies that the club may be destined for the postseason.
"We found a way," head coach Ben Olsen said after the team's 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC last time out. "We're not saying we're the top team in the league but there is something about us, with our spirit, where we are finding ways to win."
D.C. has managed to overcome the loss of reigning MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario, who was ruled out for the final stages of the season with a knee injury.
"For us it is about staying the course, we have grown so much together since the beginning of the year," said United defender Brandon McDonald. "In the beginning of the year, with that amount of pressure, we would probably have given away points. We are coming together slowly but surely and we're doing it at the right time."
Columbus will be desperate to pick up all three points on Saturday as it looks to make up ground on Houston with just two games to go. The Crew will conclude the regular season against Toronto at home, but it may be too late by that point.
"Obviously we are a few points behind D.C. and a point behind Houston for now," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "We have to win our games and hope for the best. We play every time to win, so it doesn't matter. We're going to go to D.C. and try to win, as we do every single time we step on the field,"
Columbus is likely to push D.C. down to the wire as the club has proven to never be fully out of a game this term. The Crew have scored in the 86th minute or later in six of their last nine league games, securing points in each of those games.
"We give up that first goal then we start playing pretty well," Eddie Gaven said. "That's what actually happened. It would be nice if we can come out stronger and not have such a nervous last half-hour. At the same time, we'll take goals any time they come."