The Columbus Crew have secured a 3rd place Eastern Conference finish and will play the New England Revolution in the first round of the playoffs.
Columbus, off of an impressive showing at Red Bull Arena last week, were trying to cement a 3rd place finish in the Eastern Conference as they took on the Philadelphia Union in the last game of the season. The Crew were 2 points ahead of NYRB before the game started and needed a win to guarantee a 3rd place finish. Philadelphia had already been eliminated from the playoffs prior to kickoff.
The Crew started the match off superbly, with a lot of possession and chances. They got in front early after a Ben Speas pass found Jairo Arrieta completely alone in front of the Union goal. Jairo rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the net coolly. The goal continued the recent Columbus trend of scoring early and dictating play within the first part of the match. Although after a while, the Crew seemed content to drop back and soak up some pressure as the first half ended and the second half began and it almost cost them. Steve Clark was called into action to make some crucial saves and kept the Crew in the lead.
However, Philadelphia was able to get back into the game in the 85th minute when the Crew defense switched off momentarily to allow a long throw to get behind the entire team. It was turned back into the box finished well by Zach Pfeffer. But the Crew were not to be discouraged and ended up winning the game moments later when Bernardo Anor poked the ball home following great play from Tony Tchani and Waylon Francis. There was some controversy surrounding the goal because Anor appeared to be offside. However, regardless of any offside call, it was a great feeling as a Crew fan to win in such dramatic fashion heading into the playoffs.
The last minute winner was an indication of how far the Crew have come since last year. I have a feeling that the match would have stayed tied at the full time whistle if this game had taken place in 2013, rather than 2014. That’s a huge part of the reason that the Crew have made the playoffs. This win was the Crew’s 3rd win in a row, and gives the team a massive boost going into the playoffs. This time of year is all about momentum, and it’s hard to think of a team with more momentum than the Crew right now.
The regular season is now over and I have to give a massive amount of credit to Tony Tchani. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if his career would ever take off in Columbus, but he’s put his head down this year and has probably been one of the season MVPs for the Crew. He’s played almost every single second in the league, which was completely unimaginable last year. Alongside Wil Trapp, the central midfield positions have been one of the strongest areas this year. For a player as young as Wil Trapp, it’s pretty incredible how well he’s slotted into the starting Xi this season, especially in a position as important as CM. It’s been rare that the Crew can find a midfield that’s so reliable but the Crew definitely have that this year and it has paid off big time.
Another player who deserves a ton of praise is Ethan Finley. He picked up his game at a crucial part of the season and really deserves all of the accolades he’s getting as the season comes to a close. He’s developed into one of the best scoring wingers in the entire league and has been prolific in the assist column as well. I think he seriously has the potential to be one of the best players in the league in a couple of seasons. The Crew’s next game is in the playoffs against the New England Revolution on November 1st.
(image courtesy of mlssoccer.com)