Chris Birchall
Getty Images

Crew will lean on homefield advantage in playoff push

Four games remain for the Crew in 2012, as the team finds itself in the midst of a heated Eastern Conference playoff race.  Fortunately for the Black & Gold, three of those matches will come on the familiar soil of Crew Stadium.

"It's always good to play at home," defender Josh Williams said of the home field advantage. "You have friends, family, and obviously the Nordecke there. This is why I signed up, these are big games. You want to play in these types of games."

"It's definitely an advantage for us," midfielder Chris Birchall added. "There is no traveling and we're in front of our home supporters. Hopefully, the support can be as good as it has been all year. Hopefully, more people come out and make the atmosphere a bit more daunting for the opposition."

Birchall, a midseason signing, has been amazed by the support and adoration shown by fans during his first season in Columbus.

"I've wondered since I got here, how can [supporters] be different in different cities and different states?", Birchall thought aloud. "The Galaxy fans were brilliant with me and enthusiastic. In Columbus, Seattle, and Portland, they've got a different kind of vibe. It's more passionate and aggressive, more chanting. I've always said it's more of a European atmosphere. It's kind of what everybody enjoys playing in front of and it's hard for the opposition. Hopefully it's like that in the next few home games."

The first of the remaining four matches comes Saturday night in a clash with the Philadelphia Union [7:30 p.m. ET/FOX Sports Ohio]. Having lost two of their last three games, the Black & Gold will look to get back on track against the Union.

"We've gone one-nil up on teams in Chicago and New York, and just haven't kept the lead," Birchall said of the club's recent struggles. "Really, we just need to continue what we're doing at the beginning of games when we're doing well."

The Trinidad & Tobago International continued, "We're at home for three of the [remaining four] games. We've got to be aggressive and win games by more than one goal."

Having defeated the Union 2-1 at PPL Park on August 29, the Crew feels confident as the master of its own playoff fate if it can earn three points on Saturday.

"We've been pushing for this chance, and it's in our hands right now," Williams explained.

"As long as we go out and play our game, I think we'll come away with three points."


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