Seven days, three matches, two shutouts and six points later, Crew SC still has “breath in its lungs.”
“270 minutes is a lot,” midfielder Ethan Finlay said following Columbus’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire Saturday night. “It was crazy to me because I think I felt the best — not ‘the best’ tonight, but it just seemed like it the way the game was going—and that says a lot about the vibes of the team. We had to win and sometimes you find life, you find legs, you find air in your lungs to keep running, keep going.”
WATCH: Match Highlights
The Black & Gold looked even more energetic against the Fire on Saturday than they had on Sunday hosting the New England Revolution. Book-end matches last week at MAPFRE Stadium to close-out the 2016 MLS regular season home schedule were backed by roaring sellout crowds—singing supporters who stuck with their team in a year with fluctuating results.
“The fans deserve it,” goalkeeper Steve Clark said after notching his eighth shutout this season to tie his single-year MLS best. “I thought they’ve been really, really great support all year, so to leave on a win and a nice game with a lot of energy back-and-forth is what they’re used to, it was really nice to try and reward them with that, and we’re hoping for the playoffs.”
READ: Post-match quotes
Crew SC rejuvenates with a bye week before heading to Bridgeview to meet the Fire for the third and final time this year on Thursday, October 13. After a scoreless draw at Toyota Park on March 19, Columbus will look to bring the same level of energy present last weekend in round two with Chicago.
At this point, winning is the only option to keep any hopes of a postseason berth alive. But if the Black & Gold play consistently with the same controlled, compact shape, solid defense and high-energy they greeted Chicago with on Saturday, Crew SC is more than capable of back-to-back wins.
“I think it goes back to we found a little bit of our identity,” Finlay said. “It may be late in the season, but we’re a team that’s full of fighters and guys who’ve just kind of worked our way up the ranks and taken advantage of our opportunities.”
WATCH: Ethan Finlay: Club and City
Finlay said he was proud of everyone for their regular-season home finale performance, especially his teammates whose names were called upon to step in and step up for their team. The communication was clear, unifying Crew SC’s threats on both sides of the ball, resulting in a rewarding performance.
“We had our backs against the wall and I think this team likes pressure,” Clark said. “We’re going into a little bit of a break, because it’s been a really long week, man, so we have a couple days off, I’m looking forward to that, and then we have a job to finish here.”