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Supporters revel in opportunity to help Crew in playoff push

As the Crew vies for a spot in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs, the club will count on its supporters and fans to provide a daunting atmosphere for opposing teams as the Black & Gold play two of their last three matches of the regular season at Crew Stadium. Columbus heads into Sunday's match against Sporting Kansas City with a 10-3-2 record this season. In both clubs' 17-year history, the Crew boasts a 12-9-3 record at home against Kansas City.

"[Playing at home] is definitely an advantage for us," Crew midfielder Chris Birchall said of the home fan support last week. "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."

The Nordecke, Crew Stadium's designated supporters section, has been a huge part of the club's success at home in 2012 and is nearing sellout status for Sunday's game to ensure hostile conditions for traveling opposition in the Crew's push for the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs, just as it has all season long.

"Being [in the Nordecke] period is just a huge thing week-in and week-out -- let alone it comes time for playoffs -- especially when [the Crew] is so close to being in or out of the playoffs," Crew supporter Jeromi Rogers explained. "Home field advantage is a huge thing, period. It's one of those things where as a supporter, we don't realize how much it really means to the players or the club because we're not on that other side of the fence, so to speak."

Rogers continued, "But we hear week-in and week-out through Twitter, or we run into players around town and hear them talk about how loud the supporters section is. With the different tifo projects we've had this year, it's just gotten bigger and bigger. It's amazing how much of an impact it actually makes. Just like the other night, when Philly came back and tied it up 2-2, [the Nordecke] didn't give up. We just got louder and louder."

Having traveled to a few road games to support the Black & Gold himself, Rogers knows what hostility can come for an MLS team playing away from home.

"We know how rough it is on the road as supporters," Rogers said. "I can only imagine how rough it is as a player at an away game with the home crowd being loud, let alone not having a lot of supporters traveling. Being able to play two of the last three at home is a huge advantage for [the Crew]."

Overall, Crew Stadium has averaged 14,368 fans each game compared to an average attendance of 12,185 in 2011. The team hopes to continue its strong attendance numbers to cap off the season. Tickets are still available for both remaining home games.

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