Crew Coverage

Crew Coverage pres. by Medical Mutual | Nancy: ‘Really, really proud’ after Crew beat Monterrey, advance to Concacaf Champions Cup Final 

Savor this moment, supporters. Close your eyes, breathe in and smile. Because what you have just witnessed, well, even saying massive doesn’t match the magnitude of the moment.

Late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, the Columbus Crew produced another vintage display of this Club’s trademark playing style. It was head coach Wilfried Nancy’s textbook Nancyball combination of soccer by way of boxing.

There were jabs back and forth – then the knockout punch. What had never happened before had happened.

The reigning MLS champions went to CF Monterrey and outplayed a continental superpower on its own turf. Impossible really is just an opinion.

For the first time in Club history, the Columbus Crew advanced to the Concacaf Champions Cup Final after beating Rayados, 5-2, in the two-leg semifinal. With the win, the Crew will face CF Pachuca in the Concacaf Champions Cup Final. The championship date will be announced in the coming days. The only confirmation is Columbus will play on the road.

“I really enjoyed the spirit of the guys again,” Nancy said after the match. “We know that we can do good stuff. Difficult opponent, difficult environment, but again, the idea is to be limitless. This is what they did, and I’m really proud of them.”

Columbus entered Estadio BBVA with a 2-1 advantage. In leg one, the Crew beat Monterrey at Field, and they knew a win or draw would seal a spot in the final.

But Monterrey delivered the first jab early with an 11th-minute goal that equalized the clubs on aggregate and gave Rayados, which had an away goal in the first leg, the tiebreaker.

Aidan Morris changed that, however.

Four minutes into first-half stoppage time, Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada clumsily rolled the ball to a teammate that Morris intercepted 35 yards from goal. With a few dribbles toward the right, Morris fired a shot left to the back post, leveling the second leg score.

“We started well, and after that they scored, yes, we had difficult moments, but we knew that,” Nancy said. “The idea was to stay together and when we have the opportunity to score the goal to do it. After that, we provoked the mistake because we were on the front foot.”

The Crew took a 2-1 lead – and two-goal advantage in the tie – four minutes into the second half when substitute Alexandru Mățan found acres of space and dribbled in on goal before carving through the Monterrey backline with a pass toward Diego Rossi. The Uruguayan playmaker took a touch and slotted the ball past Andrada.

The goal was Rossi’s third in the tournament, and he’s now only one shy of the team’s highest career goal total in Concacaf Champions Cup since 2008-09 (Steven Lenhart scored four goals that campaign).

“The timing was good,” Nancy said of the goals. “The idea in the second half was to change something so that's why yes, we scored before the end of the first half, but I really liked the fact that we were able to adjust tactically something, and they did it well. Obviously, good goal. Obviously, good mentality and good resilience to be able to score another goal. After that, we did a good job with that.”

Monterrey tried to claw back, but the visitors continued to control the game, much to the annoyance of Rayados supporters. The club that’s taught lessons to clubs throughout Concacaf for decades was getting schooled itself.

Jacen Russell-Rowe sealed the match in the 89th minute through a vicious counter.

Derrick Jones won the ball and sent it to Mățan. The Romanian soon earned his second assist of the match when Russell-Rowe caught Andrada outside of the box and coolly whipped a shot around the keeper and into the net.

The man who scored the game-winning goal in leg one sealed the 3-1 win in leg two. And with that, Columbus became only the second MLS side to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup Final after defeating a Liga MX club in the semis since 2008-09. Rayados lost in the second-leg of a knockout round for the first time since 2005.

The Crew now have the opportunity to be the second-ever MLS side to win Concacaf Champions Cup. They also have the chance to compete in the 2025 Club World Cup. But there’s no need to jump too far ahead and miss out celebrating this latest achievement.

“When I signed with this club, after maybe one week, I said to my wife, ‘This Club deserves something,’” Nancy said after the win. “Because yes, this is a good club. Yes, there are really good people and really good players and so on but [also] the history behind that and the way they fought to keep this Club in this city.

“Listen, all the time when I see the fans behind us, this is a soccer town – there is no doubt about this – and this is really, really nice. I’m really, really proud of that to be honest with you.”

Impossible is an opinion. Time and time again, this Crew side has proven its achievements can be limitless. The Black & Gold play with pride and with courage – and obviously very well – which is a supporter’s dream. There’s no need to stop dreaming now.

“Really proud,” Nancy said of the Crew. “Again, we know where we come from. It’s an honor to make the final. The idea is to create memories for our city and for our fans, and this is what we are doing. I’m really proud of that. Now, the idea is to try to win it. Again, we’ll see later.”

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