Sitting a point outside of MLS Cup Playoff contention with two games remaining, the Crew knows it must win on the road Saturday night against D.C. United [7:30 p.m. ET/FOX Sports Ohio].
While wins in both matches won't guarantee a spot in the postseason, back-to-back victories in D.C. on Saturday and next week against Toronto FC at home would put pressure on others ahead of Columbus in the Eastern Conference table.
"It's do or die," Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. "We've got to handle our business. We're going out there to to win, not get a draw or anything else."
"We know what we have to do," Crew midfielder Chris Birchall added. "D.C. are a good team. We've struggled there in recent times, but this is different. We're both fighting to secure a playoff place."
The Trinidad & Tobago International continued, "There are two games left, and even if we win two, we could still not make it. [Our fate] is not entirely in our hands, but we know we definitely have to go out and attack more than we probably would away from home. We hope to get an early goal, get a good result, and we'll focus on Toronto after that."
The two sides have split in its previous two matches this season, the Crew winning 1-0 in Columbus on July 21 and United claiming the same result in Washington on August 4. Birchall says he sees similarities in his club and Ben Olsen's side.
"We have the same kind of squad depth and quality of players," the midfielder said. "They just work hard. They've got the same mentality as us. We just go out and try to work hard, and we've got players that can win the game in an instant. It's just about who wants it more at the end of the day and who passes it around and creates chances."
With D.C. United expecting it's first sellout at RFK Stadium this season, the Crew is expecting to be greeted by a hostile atmosphere in the Nation's Capital. United is 11-1-4 at home in 2012, its only loss at RFK Stadium coming on March 10 against Sporting Kansas City. Despite, D.C.'s dominance at home, the Black & Gold feel they can repeat their past successes on the road this weekend.
"It's going to be a tough environment," Gruenebaum explained. "[D.C. United] is a great team. It's not going to be an easy task, but we know what we're capable of. We've come out with some big road wins in the past. Hopefully we can build off that. They're tough at home. They've only lost one game there and here's a reason for that: it's tough, their fans get behind them. It will be a big crowd for this game. It's just a tough place historically to go in and get a win, but that's what we need to do. Seattle is a tough place to get a win, and we did. Kansas City is a tough place to get a win, and we did that."
Despite the siginificance of this week's match, Robert Warzycha's players are staying relaxed ahead of the Saturday tilt.
"It's important," Gruenebaum said. "There's no reason to build it up more than it is. It is what it is. We know if we build it up any more, it just adds pressure that we don't need. I think everybody is pretty relaxed for the most part. We're a confident group.
"The nervous excitement stems from the fact that it's playoff time. This is what we've played all year for, it's our chance to get in [the playoffs]. Once you get in, anything can happen."