The Los Angeles Galaxy will continue defense of its MLS Cup title on Sunday at The Home Depot Center against Supporters' Shield winners San Jose.
The Galaxy won both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup last year, something that the Earthquakes will hope to duplicate this season.
Los Angeles finished the regular season fourth in the Western Conference and had to produce a second-half rally against Vancouver in a 2-1 knockout round win over the Whitecaps on Thursday just to get to this point.
An early goal from Vancouver's Darren Mattocks made things nervy for the Galaxy, but as Landon Donovan said, the win came down to determination and patience.
"Our determination was good and we kept putting them under pressure. We kind of just got the sense that if we were patient then they were going to wear out and sure enough, in the second half, they started opening up a little," said Donovan. "They couldn't keep up defending the way that they did in the first half and we were finally able to pick them a part a little bit."
Los Angeles hasn't had a lot of success against San Jose this season with just one point against the Earthquakes in three meetings.
However, the Galaxy is in the midst of a good run of form having lost only once in its last 11 games.
Bruce Arena's team also has the benefit of a wealth of playoff experience having made a run to the title last year.
Only one year removed from missing out on the postseason, head coach Frank Yallop has the 'Quakes at the top of the league thanks in large part to a potent offensive attack that far and away led the league in goals.
Chris Wondolowski tied Roy Lassiter's single-season goals record with 27, while Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart combined for 24 themselves, which will give the Galaxy defense plenty to think about.
The 'Quakes may not have the playoff experience of the Galaxy, but Gordon knows that there is less room for error, and that the level of focus must be greater.
"There is less forgiveness for errors. You got to tighten things up and you can't make mistakes," Gordon said when asked about the difference between regular and postseason play. "When you make mistakes, you're going to get punished. We have to be tuned in as a team and that's what has got us here."
San Jose didn't learn its opponent for Sunday's game until Thursday night, but according to defender Jason Hernandez, it really doesn't play a role in how the team prepares.
"For the most part, we have just concentrated on what we are doing here - what we want to get better at and what advantages we want to create," Hernandez said. "Not knowing who we play doesn't make a huge difference for us. At the end of the day, if we have a good week of training and a game plan, we will be just fine."