Wilfried Nancy’s smiles after both Columbus Crew goals summed the performance up perfectly. What was practiced on the training ground was executed during the match — and three points was the prize.
On Saturday night, the Crew beat the New York Red Bulls, 2-1, at Lower.com Field to earn a fifth win in the last six games.
“I like the fact that my players they were able to fight until the end, and they deserve it,” Nancy said in his post-match press conference. “That's why I'm happy about this win because this is not like we dominated the game in terms of what we are supposed to do. Again, to win like that, this is good in terms of spirit. After that, yes, we have to be a little bit better on certain things if we want to move forward because we can do better, but I'm happy because I remember how we started [in the first game against New York Red Bulls].”
Cucho’s 19th minute goal was breathtaking and a beautiful piece of individual skill, but it also completed a lovely attacking spell of quick passes that unlocked the Crew attack before the Colombian flicked the ball home.
After working the ball into space down the right side, Alex Matan cut it back toward the 6-yard box, where Cucho backheeled the cross into the net, sending The Nordecke into a frenzy.
“I was really pleased about this goal because this is something that we've been working on,” Nancy said. “That's why I'm smiling because I was really pleased about this goal because it was the plan to have Matty on the right side at the good moment, and the way we scored this goal and the way also Cucho scored but this is also the way we created this situation. I was really pleased, really pleased.”
Elias Manoel then equalized the match in the 38th minute when he scored home a header.
But the Crew reclaimed the lead two minutes after the hour mark courtesy of a well-hit volley from Yaw Yeboah. The sequence started on the opposite flank when Cucho chipped the ball between New York defenders. In space, Mohamed Farsi crossed it to the back post for the Ghanaian to produced his third goal of the season.
“(The goal) was just like I’ve been doing in training,” Yeboah said after the match. “I just happened to be in the box when the ball was on the opposing side and it happened that I was in a good position and I was able to find where I was. Tried to do my best and hit the target, and that's exactly what I did.”
Things got interesting two minutes later, however.
The Red Bulls were awarded a penalty and Manoel stepped up to potentially level the game for a second time. But in the 64th minute, his attempt clanked off goalkeeper Patrick Schulte’s left post and ricocheted away from the goal.
“Listen, I believe that when you do good things and when you work well, you provoke a bit of luck. Yeah, tonight we had a bit of luck. … When I'm talking about luck, I am talking about the PK. The PK could have been a goal, but it's not a goal. For me, it is because the team works well so they deserve that. This is what I mean by luck. After that, to get out of the pressure? No, this is not luck, no, no, no. This is courage.
“They are brave. It's funny because the first game that we played against them at certain moments, we broke the pressure; but today, we did it well, but we didn't take advantage on these situations or we did the most difficult to break the press, but we were not able to keep the time edge that we created.”
And therein lies the major takeaway from Saturday’s win. Yes, the club’s red-hot form continues, but the Black & Gold continue to grow and mature as a team as the season transpires. It was two late goals that sent the Crew back to Columbus without a point when the clubs last met in March. On this occasion, Nancy’s men maintained its lead and earned a deserving three points.
Up next is a taking a trip to Florida to face Inter Miami CF on Tuesday night.
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