Credit New York Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber and his Columbus Crew counterpart Caleb Porter for remaining optimistic despite their diminishing playoff chances.
The flailing teams meet in Columbus on Tuesday desperately needing points to push for a top-seven finish into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Montreal holds the final spot with 31 points.
Columbus (7-11-6, 27 points) has lost two straight and eight of nine since July 30. The Crew are 10th and every team ahead of them except first-place New England has played at least one fewer match.
"I'm very confident we're going to get three points and we're going to be sitting right where we need to sit with nine games to go," Porter said.
The Red Bulls (6-10-5, 23 points) have five losses and four ties in the past 10 games with the lone win coming at home vs. the Crew (1-0) on Aug. 18. They have three games in hand on the Crew.
New York, in 11th, tied sixth-place D.C. United 1-1 on Saturday.
"Right now, it's not easy to pick up the points that we want for the playoffs," Struber said. "We have to look forward and we have to create always a good mindset -- a positive, optimistic mindset.
"It's not easy at the moment, but we believe in us and we believe in our quality, what we have."
The Crew endured another painful setback at Inter Miami CF on Saturday, losing 1-0 on a turnover that led to Gonzalo Higuain's goal in the 16th minute. Miami had one shot on goal after that, none in the second half, but the stagnant Crew attack was shutout for the 10th time.
"If there's any frustration at all, we're going to channel that into this next game," Porter said. "We've got to get a win in the next game and this whole thing's going to turn on its head and we're going to start to make a run up the table."
--Field Level Media