Crew snaps losing streak in Chicago with hard-earned point
Chances are, you've heard about the Crew's struggles in Chicago.
Entering Saturday's match, the Black & Gold were 5-14-7 at Chicago in all-time regular season play. They were 1-6-5 at Toyota Park, specifically, which opened in 2006. They hadn't gotten a point of any kind there since September 20, 2009 – nearly five years ago.
Saturday night's 1-1 draw won't change the overall numbers too drastically, and it's not the victory the Crew would have obviously preferred, but it does at least end the Crew's five-year pointless streak in Chicago – a long overdue feat for the Black & Gold.
"[The Fire is] our closest neighbor – the nosy neighbor, I guess you could say," said Wil Trapp. "They had a great crowd come out tonight. The East is tough. There are a lot of teams down for those playoff spots. These are big games. To come away with a point, we're not happy with it, but it's better than no points at all."
This wasn't just any old point, however. It was a gutty effort that was sparked by Federico Higuain's equalizer just seconds into the second half, but was really marked by a complete final 45 minutes in what was a drastic turnaround from the first half.
"It wasn't just Gregg [Berhalter], it was everyone," said Ben Speas, on whether the Crew boss provided a spark with his halftime speech. "We just wanted to play better. We knew that we could play better. We wanted to come out in the second half and show how we could play. Right away, we wanted to have energy."
"[Berhalter] wasn't happy with our first half," added Trapp. "He gave us some pointers on what we could do to fix it. It's mostly just a mentality sort of thing. We didn't really need to change too much tactically or technically, it was just a desire sort of thing."
More importantly, in the context of the 2014 season, the road point extends the Black & Gold's unbeaten run to three matches and keeps it above the red line in MLS Cup playoff position. The best news of all – the Crew now comes home for three consecutive matches, an excellent opportunity to continue to bolster its place in the standings and extend its unbeaten run.
"We were hoping for three wins ... But it's good to have two wins and a tie," said Speas on his club's current streak. "Going home, we know that we're on our home field and have our fans behind us, so that will be great to have."