ATLANTA – After Thursday night’s upset on the road at Atlanta United, Columbus Crew SC will look to carry the momentum built from the team’s penalty shootout victory in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs into their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against NYCFC.
It won’t be an easy task for Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus side, who only took one point from NYCFC in their regular season match-ups, but after a morale-boosting victory Thursday, he’s hoping his team will ride that wave on Tuesday in the home leg (8 pm ET | ESPN; TSN1/4/5, TVAS in Canada) and beyond.
“We are a confident team. This is 11 games unbeaten,” said Berhalter after the win in Atlanta. “I think when you come into Atlanta and don’t give up a goal, that’s an accomplishment in itself. We’re a confident team. New York City is an excellent team and it’s going to be a good series.”
Berhalter can take solace in the fact that his Crew SC side bottled up one of the league’s most proficient scorers in Josef Martinez. Things won’t get any easier, though, as they will attempt to do the same against another one of MLS’s top strikers in David Villa. The Spaniard scored a brace in the teams’ Decision Day matchup less than a week ago. Berhalter will look to the Atlanta game as a blueprint.
“For us, it was about staying compact, staying organized and taking advantage of them when we had the ball,” said Berhalter. “I think it was pretty good. I think the best part, for me, was the determination by the guys. The will, the will to win, the will to keep going.”
Crew SC captain Wil Trapp agreed with the determination needed by the team.
“It’s guts, man. Every huddle we had, we just kept preaching to continue to dig, to continue to rally with each other. The guys fought for 120 minutes, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
One of the biggest rewards for Crew SC – aside from merely keeping the season alive – is that the team now gets to treat their fans for at least one more home fixture in what has been a tumultuous month for the team’s fervent supporters.
“We’re just excited to play in front of our home crowd,” said Trapp. “They deserve it and we are happy we can give it to them.”