There are two factors in play as Crew SC begins a two-leg, aggregate-scoring Eastern Conference semifinal series with New York City FC on Tuesday night at Mapfre Stadium.
In addition to the Crew's success at home this season, there's also what's obvious and has been discussed at length over the last two weeks: Precourt Sports Ventures, the team's ownership group headed by investor-operator Anthony Precourt, announced two weeks ago that it will consider moving the team to Austin, Texas after the 2018 season.
Tuesday's game will be the Crew's first at Mapfre Stadium since that announcement and comes after a game at NYCFC to end the regular season and a Thursday knockout-round game at Atlanta United to begin the playoffs.
That fact alone should set up a rowdy, perhaps emotional home atmosphere for the Crew. It's unclear whether Precourt will be in attendance.
"Obviously it's gonna be a big game for this city for numerous reasons, obvious reasons," defender Josh Williams said. "As confident as we are on the road, we're that much more confident at home. We feel very good playing (at home) and we're riding a wave right now. Everybody's having a lot of fun and we don't want this season to end."
The emotional weight of Tuesday's game is something Crew players and coaches expect heading in but not something they expect to be a hindrance.
"Certainly, there's a lot of emotion. We've always been focusing on playing a home playoff game. We've done that, but the work isn't even close to being over," midfielder Wil Trapp said. "We are stepping forward knowing the supporters are going to be emotional and knowing that we want to win the game and it's a good opponent."
Also on the minds of Crew players is their home record. Crew SC won a franchise-record 12 home games and went 12-3-2 in 17 home dates. It finished out its home slate by going 5-0-1.
The conference semifinal round began Sunday night with a sleepy match between Seattle and Vancouver, in which the teams tied 0-0 in Vancouver. It's unlikely, based on the Crew's playing style and its successful track record at home, that it will be content leaving Mapfre Stadium with a scoreless tie.
"You can't necessarily win the tie in the first game, but you can certainly lose it, so you understand the conservatism out of Vancouver and they just played, but I think for us, we want to go to New York with a lead and obviously a lead with no away goals against us," Trapp said. "For us, our objective is to be aggressive but measured as well."
Said coach Gregg Berhalter: "I'm not sure it's in our DNA to be conservative. We have a good home record, a strong home record and we'd like to take advantage of that, so I would suspect that we're gonna go with the intensity from minute one to try to win the game."
There will be intensity aplenty Tuesday night at Mapfre Stadium. How Crew SC uses it over 90 minutes could play a large role in determining the team's likelihood of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.