Crew Coverage

Crew Coverage pres. by Medical Mutual | Nancy: Crew’s 2-1 win ‘best game yet’ in 2024

Yes, March Madness is applicable in soccer, too. 

Columbus Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy has said previously that he wants his players to play patiently and strike when the moment is right. So, how about striking with the latest goal in MLS regular season history?

That was the scene on Saturday night, when there were legitimate scenes as Mohamed Farsi scored a game winner in the 100th minute to seal the Columbus Crew’s 2-1 win over Chicago Fire FC at Field. 

“We just kept pushing,” Farsi said afterward. “We are home, we've got the crowd behind us. We just kept pushing, pushing, pushing and I was at the right place at the right moment. We did a good combination with Jacen [Russell-Rowe] to Diego [Rossi], who almost scored, after I was just there to do a tap in.”

But there’s context beyond beating the Fire. 

Last Saturday, the Crew held a one-goal lead before conceding to Minnesota United FC in the last seconds to draw. At the time, Nancy said the team would need to learn how to close out games defensively. In the two games since, the opposite’s rang true: the Black & Gold are saving last-minute goals for the last-possible second. 

“The Minnesota game, we conceded [in the last] 10 seconds, and now it’s been two games that we scored at the end,” Nancy said. “That’s why for me this is the best game for the moment because the strength that they found in their head to be able to keep going, that’s why I’m really pleased about this game tonight.”

After a scoreless first half, the Crew took the lead in the 68th minute when Russell-Rowe scored his first goal of 2024 with a vicious long-range hit.

“He found a way to score,” Nancy said. “For me, I’m happy because he’s getting better in terms of the resilience. Last year at certain moments, he was missing that a bit. Now, we can see that he is stronger mentally. This is good for him, this is good for the team and this is good for everyone.”

The lead was brief, though. 

Fabian Herbers scored the equalizer soon after. Initially ruled offside, the goal was awarded in the 72nd minute. From there, the Crew continued pressing to recapture the lead. 

Fans thought it came in the 99th minute. Then, Russell-Rowe put the ball in the back of the net, and plumes of yellow smoke billowed in front of The Nordecke. But the goal was disallowed, and the celebrations were premature. 

This only added to the drama. 

That yellow smoke soon drifted into Chicago’s half of the field when the Crew attacked a quick throw-in and caught the Fire napping defensively. From there, Russell-Rowe connected with Rossi for a shot that was blocked and redirected to Farsi at the back post.

“Better late than never, yeah?” Farsi said of the late goal and his first in MLS. “Very happy, very happy to get my first goal. Hopefully this one is the first of many. I'm going to keep working hard to help. At the end of the day, I just want to help the team to win, whether it’s getting an assist, whether it’s defending, whether it’s attacking, I just want to help the team. Today it was to score a goal to help the team, so I’ll take it. Maybe next week it’s going to be to help the team to 98 minutes and make it straight to defend.”

There’s limited time to celebrate, though. 

On Tuesday night, the Crew return to Field to host Houston Dynamo FC in the return leg of this Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16 matchup. Tickets are available, and kickoff is at 6 p.m. 

“We all feel privileged to have so many games to play, in all of the competitions,” Farsi said. “We’re just going to enjoy every game that we're going to play. Now we’re going to play Houston again in the Champions Cup. We're going to fight every game that we're going to play, whether it’s Champions Cup, Leagues Cup, MLS, we want to win it all, so every time we step on the pitch, we’re gonna give everything and that's it. We have a good group as well. We saw today or last game, everybody can play. I think everybody is ready to play and that’s it.”

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