The first-ever MLS Cup champions will take on the most recent winners on Saturday from Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus.
It seems the Crew are still suffering from a championship hangover, having drawn their opening two games in the regular season, failing to score each time.
For Columbus, this is their worst opening to a regular season since 2017, but luckily for Caleb Porter and his team, there are still plenty of games to be played.
The defending champions have been at their best when playing at home, winning nine of their 10 games in 2020 and hitting double digits in home wins in 2017 and 2018.
They have struggled to beat DC United in the regular season, losing their last three encounters against them by a 1-0 score.
Last season they gave up a mere 21 goals, which was second only to Philadelphia, and so far in the early stages of 2021 they have been just as solid defensively, keeping four clean sheets in their last six games in all competitions.
After a solid start to his managerial career in the American capital, things have gone downhill for Hernan Losada.
His side came back to beat New York FC 2-1 in their opening fixture but have lost their last two, including a 4-1 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes the previous time out.
So far in 2021, despite having a new coach, the Black and Red have continued a familiar trend from 2020, conceding the opening goal in their first three matches.
In their previous campaign, DC gave up the opening goal 15 times, which could explain why they finished with the third worst record in the MLS regular season.
The franchise that won three of the first four MLS Cup titles took a big step backwards last year, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
The Crew have been hit by the injury bug early on this season as Kevin Molino is out with a left hamstring problem, while Aidan Morris and Marlon Hairston have left knee injuries, and Perry Kitchen has a right thigh problem.
Their leading goalscorer from 2020, Gyasi Zardes could miss the game with a shoulder injury.
Hernan Losada will have several injuries to deal with himself, as Steve Birnbaum is still recovering from ankle surgery, while they could be without Yordy Reyna, Ola Kamara, Griffin Yow and Kevin Paredes, who all have unknown injuries.
Columbus Crew possible starting lineup:
Room; Francis, Keita, Williams, Afful; Artur, Parente; Santos, Zelarayan, Espinoza; Wright-Phillips
DC United possible starting lineup:
Seitz; Alfaro, Brillant, Hines-Ike; Mora, Moreno, Nyeman, Gressel; Flores, Asad; Sorga
We say: Columbus Crew 1-2 DC United
DC United have had the Crew's number over the past couple of seasons and will be in a foul mood after being embarrassed a week ago by the San Jose Earthquakes.
Columbus were eliminated in the Champions League quarter-finals, losing 3-0 to Monterrey, and have only a few days to recover.
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