Head Coach Caleb Porter said he knows Minnesota United FC Head Coach Adrian Heath well.
That said, Porter labeled Minnesota as the best team they will have played so far this season, and it only takes a brief glimpse at the regular-season standings to see Minnesota's quality, as the Loons currently rank third in the early Supporters' Shield race and are still unbeaten on the year at 3-0-2.
"Everybody knows they're a good team. This is the best team we've played so far this season. It's going to be a great match and that's what you want. You want two good teams slugging it out and that's what it will be. We're going to give everything we have to advance."
Even without 2019 MLS Defender of the Year, Ike Opara, Minnesota has gone unbeaten (1-0-2) in the tournament, while the team ranks third overall in MLS in goals (12) and shot conversion rate (23.08 percent).
The Loons' results so far in the tournament include a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City, a scoreless draw vs. Real Salt Lake, and a 2-2 draw vs. the Colorado Rapids, with the former two teams advancing to the Round of 16.
Of course, those three matches count towards the regular season, and Columbus being the only team to record three wins speaks to more than just the match-ups, Porter said.
"We're very proud of that and I told the players that yesterday, I don't want to brush over that. Obviously we're on now to the Round of 16 and so we've filed away the Group Stage in our results there, but I wanted to make note of it with my team because we were the only team after four months of being out to come in here and get all nine points and I think that says everything about our hunger.
"That puts us in a great spot when we get back to the League. That was the goal coming in – our number one priority is to win MLS Cup, and to win MLS Cup we need to get back to the playoffs. And those three games we knew were points that would add up and put us in a position when we get back towards that goal."
The two sides have met just three times prior, with Columbus holding a slight 2W-0D-1L advantage over the Loons in regular-season play. However, Minnesota won the most recent meeting on May 19, 2019, with Ethan Finlay getting the game-winner.
The winner of Columbus vs. Minnesota will face the winner of tonight's match between San Jose and Real Salt Lake on August 1.
To read more about what others around the League are saying about #CLBvMIN, check out the Knockout Round Preview.