The Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs are coming to MAPFRE Stadium this Sunday, as Crew SC hosts the Montreal Impact for the decisive Second Leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Black & Gold lost the first match in Canada but returned to Columbus with an important away goal that could make all the difference in this series.
“It’s not a 90-minute game, it’s a 180-plus-minute game,” Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter says. “And with away goals counting like they do, you want to position yourself so that a win in the home series could get you to the next round, and we did that.”
After falling to the Impact 2-1, Crew SC needs to win its home match on Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN) to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Thanks to the away-goal rule, a 1-0 or 2-0 victory would see the Black & Gold through to the next round.
Should the 90 minutes end in a 2-1 Columbus win, the match would head into extra time and potentially penalty kicks. Beyond that score line, Crew SC would have to defeat Montreal by a two-goal margin to advance.
“We talked about a number of different scenarios before the game [in Montreal] that would help put us in a position to advance with a home game on Sunday, and that was one of the scenarios,” Berhalter says. “So, as far as we’re concerned everything is going according to plan.”
Midfielder Ethan Finlay says the team is feeling upbeat going into Sunday’s match.
“We put ourselves in a good position,” Finlay says. “We’re comfortable with where we’re at. We got the away goal, that was one of our goals coming out of this game. Going into Sunday, we know what’s at stake and what we need to do, and I think that gives us confidence.”
Both Berhalter and Finlay are counting on Crew SC supporters to create an atmosphere that will give the team an edge over the Impact.
“The playoffs atmospheres are what make soccer special,” Berhalter says. “Sunday at MAPFRE Stadium is going to be great as well. We’re looking forward to the crowd getting there, getting in the seats and getting loud. It’s going to help us.”
Finlay says Montreal was able to feed off its crowd this past Sunday. He believes Crew SC supporters can top the atmosphere at Stade Saputo.
“What’s exciting to me is looking forward and hoping that Sunday will be just as big if not bigger at MAPFRE Stadium,” he says. “It was definitely electrifying and you felt you were in a hostile environment. I hope our fans will bring that same environment come Sunday.”
The Second Leg between Crew SC and the Montreal Impact is set for 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8. Tickets are still available for this crucial playoff match. Get your tickets. Get there early. Get loud.