Nashville SC's grip on second place in the Eastern Conference has eroded after four consecutive draws, but they look for a return to their winning ways by protecting home turf against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday.
An 8-0-7 record at Nissan Stadium has helped Nashville (11-3-15, 48 points) move closer to clinching a playoff berth, but what was a nine-point lead over third-place Philadelphia six games ago is down to just two points.
Columbus (10-12-7, 37 points) would love to be in Nashville's spot but instead is in danger of not qualifying for one of the seven playoff berths a season after winning the MLS Cup.
The Crew is 10th in the East, four points below the postseason line with five matches left.
"We're not going to get ahead of ourselves," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "We're not going to play the next five games. We're going to play the next game, and we know we have a very difficult game against Nashville. We'll control what we can control, and that's winning the next game."
The Crew were dominant in dismantling Inter Miami 4-0 on Saturday. Porter credited having a full complement of starters, except for center back Jonathan Mensah (COVID-19 protocol), for one of the few times this season.
"It's important to make sure we recover because we have a game Wednesday against Nashville, a team that is on fire as well, and it's an away game," said forward Gyasi Zardes, who scored twice against Miami.
The Crew, 2-9-4 on the road, make their first trip to Nashville.
Nashville drew 0-0 at D.C. United on Saturday despite missing Randall Leal, Alistair Johnston and Anibal Godoy, who were returning from international duty, and Daniel Lovitz (foot injury).
"Our team is just so deep," Nashville defender Jack Maher said. "We have guys across the board from No. 1 to No. 30 that can come in and do the job whenever they are called upon."
--Field Level Media