The Columbus Crew look to end a four-game winless streak when they host New York City FC at Mapfre Stadium on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
After being nearly unbeatable through the first 13 matches and on pace for allowing the fewest goals in an MLS season, the Crew (9-4-4, 31 points) have fallen on hard times and given New York City (8-7-3, 27 points) hope of closing the gap between the teams in the playoff race.
Columbus is third in the Eastern Conference after losses to ninth-place Montreal and 13th-place FC Cincinnati.
"The season's not lost," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "I'm very disappointed the results have not gone in recent games the way we've wanted them too."
New York City is more upbeat after a 1-1 draw at Orlando City on Wednesday as Keaton Parks got the equalizer in the 43rd minute. NYCFC are sixth in the East.
"I'm very proud of the boys," NYCFC coach Ronny Deila said.
The result came hours after James Sands was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season with a right foot fracture, adding to the injury woes.
Parks, his usual central midfield partner, responded with his second goal in three matches.
"The last 10 games (Parks) been one of the best players on the team," Deila said.
The Crew are 0-3-1 in the past four games and it's not hard to see that the confidence is waning, especially on defense. They have conceded nine goals in the past four matches after giving up five in the first 13 when they had a 9-1-3 mark to lead MLS in points.
"There's times in the season where your team is tested, the mettle of your team is tested," Crew defender Josh Williams said. "I think this is one of those times. We've just got to get back to believing in ourselves, believing that every time we step on the field that we truly, truly are the superior team."
--Field Level Media