The Columbus Crew will be without star forward Cucho Hernandez for a critical home match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Hernandez, who has nine goals and two assists in 15 games for the Crew (9-7-15, 42 points) since his transfer from England's Watford FC, was suspended one game by Major League Soccer for offensive language toward a Portland Timbers player Sept. 18.
Hernandez apologized in a statement. MLS, in its statement, said he was not provided league-mandated training on prohibited language upon his arrival to MLS.
While the Red Bulls (14-10-8, 50 points) are third in the Eastern Conference and have secured a postseason berth with two games left, Columbus is below the playoff line.
The Crew are equal in points with Inter Miami for the seventh and final spot in the East but Miami holds the tiebreaker in wins with 12, while they have three games remaining.
The Crew have allowed an MLS-high six goals in second-half stoppage and their nine points dropped after the 90th minute (four wins turned to ties and one tie to a loss) are the most in a season in league history, according to mlssoccer.com.
"We have to be better," Crew coach Caleb Porter said. "If we want to have a chance to be in the playoffs here, we're going to have to close out games. If we want to have a chance in the playoffs to make a run, we're going to have to close out games."
Columbus is 0-1-3 in its past four matches with two of the draws the result of giving up goals beyond the 90th minute.
New York is coming off a 2-0 loss to New York City FC on Sept. 17.
"It's very important after an international break that we very quickly step back into our principles and our identity," Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber said. "We know Columbus is a very good team, big respect for them."
-- Field Level Media