D.C. United and the Chicago Fire are set for a massive clash at Toyota Park on Saturday as the result will help determine playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.
Second place will be at stake as the two sides enter the contest separated by a single point. Chicago needs a win to solidify second place, and anything but could drop the Fire to fourth place to put them in the dreaded play-in game on Wednesday.
Chicago once looked like the most formidable side in MLS but it has not finished the season strong, dropping three of its last four league matches. The Fire most recently lost out in a 1-0 match at Gillette Stadium to the New England Revolution.
"I don't think we did a lot well," said Fire midfielder Logan Pause. "I think we came in knowing it was going to be a hard game, and this is one of those games you got to learn from.
"You know hopefully that's the best thing that comes out of today is that we learn from it and know that from here on out every game is going to be hard, and move forward."
The Fire can finish anywhere from second place to fifth place, while United can drop as low as fourth.
Maximum points at home is not a foregone conclusion for Chicago. The Fire will be facing a United side that earned a memorable 3-2 home win over the Columbus Crew last time out, a match that was reminiscent of the club's rich history.
"It was like the old days," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "I don't like to bring up the old days very often, but the feeling in that building felt like the good old days here. I'd like to keep that around.
"We're excited to continue to move on and have more moments like this. We're still in the hunt moving forward next week. There's still work to be done."