For the first time since 2012, the Columbus Crew are on a winning streak. Two victories at home against New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC have given the Crew their first bit of momentum of the summer, and the team seems to have a different attitude after pulling out of its worst slump of the season.
"It feels great. Two wins in a row is a great confidence booster for us and we just have to keep doing what we're doing and keep winning games," midfielder Wil Trapp (above) said after last Saturday’s win. "Two wins at home to get the fans back into it, especially with two shutouts, it's even better. It's something we can definitely build off of."
Many of the Crew’s woes have come from late-game breakdowns, leading to losses. Players and coaches have blamed a lack of grit, focus and other attributes in the losses, but with a reimagined formation, they have found a way to close in the past two victories.
"I think it just comes down to keeping the ball. Late in the game in the last two, we've been able to possess and get out of tight situations and really kill some clock," veteran defender Chad Marshall said. "We haven't had that in the past; it was two or three passes, we lose it and they're back down our throats. There's only so many times you can do that before the team finally capitalizes."
For head coach Robert Warzycha says the streak isn’t just a nice accomplishment, but necessary.
"It was this time or never. If we would have lost the game against New York or [the Toronto] game, we would have put ourselves in a difficult situation," he said after a team training session. "We're in the situation that we have to have some luck and have some teams lose some games or tie some games. We're going to continue to play hard and try to win all of the games."
The team may be in “a difficult situation” either way. Columbus still sits seven points behind fifth-place Houston, and the Dynamo have a game in hand. After two Eastern Conference foes, the Crew now travel to Salt Lake City to face Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 9:30 pm ET, watch FREE on MLS Stream of the Week), who lead the West.
Despite the challenge, Warzycha feels confident in his team’s newfound ability to attack and possess, and thinks that a repeat performance could surprise the Western leaders.
"We're going to create the chances. We have some guys that can really do something on the field, offensively, and I'd like us to score some goals," he said. "If we're as sharp offensively as we were in the last two games, then we're going to score some goals and we're going to make it tough on Salt Lake."