Chicago Fire have played a third of the season with a makeshift defence after looking set earlier in the season.
Fire coach Denis Hamlett had the luxury of putting four players on the pitch who he knew would do the job for him and in the first 11 matches it worked as Chicago were undefeated in that time.
Tim Ward (broken foot), Bakary Soumare (moved to France), Wilman Conde (injuries) and Gonzalo Segares (injuries) have missed a large portion of the second part of the season after performing so well early on and it could have left Hamlett with a major headache.
But in the last two-and-a-half months, the Fire defence has been patched up by a number of different players, making Hamett’s job much easier.
“You've got to credit guys like C.J. (Brown), Dasan (Robinson), Mike (Banner) and Brandon (Prideaux), because at the first of the season they didn't as much playing time," Hamlett said.
"Now they step up to the plate and have done well. When you get a group of guys who have played a few games together, a relationship forms and they get on the same page.
"The last two games, defensively, we're getting back to the mindset we played early in the year," Hamlett added.
"To win championships, you have to have a god defensive mindset, and I think we can build on these last two games.”
The Fire will meet New England Revolution in their first play-off semi-final match this Sunday, November 1 at Gillette Stadium.