The rivalry between the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire will be the secondary story when the teams close Historic Crew Stadium on Saturday.
It will be the final game at Major League Soccer's first soccer-specific stadium before the Crew debuts the $314 million, 20,371-seat Lower.com Field on July 3 vs. the New England Revolution.
The game Saturday will also be the Crew's first where full capacity (19,968) will be allowed since March of last year.
The current venue, formerly Mapfre Stadium, opened on May 15, 1999, and was the site of three MLS Cup showdowns, including 2020 when the Crew defeated the Seattle Sounders 3-0.
There were also two MLS All-Star Games, four 2003 Women's World Cup matches and four consecutive 2-0 wins for the U.S. men's national team vs. Mexico in World Cup qualifiers to become known as the home of "Dos a Cero."
"I know it's going to be emotional (Saturday)," Crew captain Jonathan Mensah said on The Call Up podcast. "It's really kind of hallowed ground in soccer. We just need to give it a great send off."
The Fire (1-5-1, 4 points) would like to play spoiler.
"We're going to there to get three points," Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. "I don't think it adds anymore difficulties than the game already is. We're playing against the champion in their stadium."
The Fire will be without Polish midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski (Euro 2020) and midfielder Gaston Gimenez, who is with Paraguay for Copa America.
Columbus (3-2-2, 11 points) will be missing goalkeeper Eloy Room, who is in a quarantine period following his international stint with Curacao. Ohio native Evan Bush is expected to make his first start for the Crew.
Artur, Milton Valenzuela and Luis Diaz are questionable for the Crew because of injuries.
"It's floating under the radar, but we have more injuries than anyone in the league this year," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "We've managed it pretty well and to this point, the depth helps."
--Field Level Media