The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew enter Saturday night's match tied in the Eastern Conference with identical 4-5-8 records.
New York, however, could be the more motivated side after a controversial call may have cost the team points in its previous match.
The Red Bulls and the visiting Crew are tied for the conference's final playoff spot, though the Red Bulls hold the tiebreaker with 26 goals compared to 19 for Columbus.
Bradley Wright-Phillips - who leads the league with 14 goals - continues to be a spark for New York, scoring twice against Houston last Friday. However, right back Chris Duvall was whistled for a questionable handball late, setting up Brad Davis' equalizer on a penalty in the 82nd minute that sent the teams to a 2-all draw.
"I feel that we lost two points tonight," coach Mike Petke told the league's official website. "It wasn't a handball from what I saw, from what I was told from my player, from what the players surrounding him said. I feel like the ref handed that to them. Aside from that, it was a hard-fought point and we'll take it."
Thirteen of Wright-Phillips' goals have come in his last 10 matches, including one in a 1-all draw at Columbus on April 26.
The Crew have drawn in four straight while tallying only two goals and own just one victory in 14 matches following a 3-0-0 start.
They played to a 1-1 draw at Colorado last Friday, with Ethan Finlay providing the equalizer in the 76th minute with his fourth goal. Finlay had scored three goals in five matches prior to the World Cup break but was sidelined June 29 following an appendectomy.
"I believe in what I'm able to do and my abilities. If anything, I was worried about making sure I was connecting with guys. I think we were able to," Finlay, who didn't score in his first 40 matches, told the team's official website.
"We were unfortunate on a couple of plays not to get a little bit better of a result and I think there were some sharpness things, personally from myself, that could have been a little bit better and could have resulted in an opportunity or a goal for us. ... Besides that, I was pretty happy about it."
Columbus is 0-3-4 in its last seven road matches. However, the Red Bulls haven't been their best at home with a 2-2-3 mark, though Wright-Phillips has eight goals in his last four home matches and New York is 9-1-5 in its last 15 there against Columbus.
The Red Bulls hope to have midfielder Dax McCarty available after he missed the last three games with a knee injury. McCarty tallied one goal and one assist while starting the first 14 matches.
- Sports & Recreation
- Columbus Crew
- New York Red Bulls
- Bradley Wright-Phillips