A particular banner hangs outside the south end of Columbus Crew Stadium for everyone to see as they enter MLS’ first soccer-specific stadium.
“This is our fortress.”
The banner drapes a stadium that has hosted topflight American soccer for 15 years running, as well as some memorable United States National Team matches that are near and dear to this community’s heart. Perhaps, it's fitting that the result the Crew needed -- and got -- tonight featured a scoreline that matches the now-famous "Dos a Cero" slogan. With a 2-0 victory over the Fire at home, Columbus got its first truly resounding home result of 2014, helping reestablish Crew Stadium as the fortress this team wants it to be.
“Great teams win their games at home and they get their results,” said Ethan Finlay, who scored the opening goal in tonight’s victory. “I wouldn’t say we’ve done that as consistently as we need to thus far. It’s a good start to the summer for us here, and hopefully we can finish strong going into the [FIFA] World Cup break.”
The Crew was 1-2-2 at home prior to tonight’s match, but it did well to erase all prior memories with a surgical performance. Columbus showed precision and creativity in attack all night long, but particularly in the first half, where the Black & Gold got in behind the Fire defense on numerous occasions, finishing two chances to take a two-goal lead after 25 minutes.
“It was just a mentality thing. It was a team-comprehensive performance,” said Wil Trapp. “Our fans were awesome tonight; their energy really fueled us. If we continue to do that, we’re going to be very, very difficult to beat here.”
The home result was especially important for Gregg Berhalter, who said that the Crew’s style lends itself to opponents sitting back and countering, which can make it difficult if his side has to “chase the game.”
“It was important [to win at home],” said the Crew boss. “It’s tough playing the way we do, especially at home, if an opponent comes, sits back and waits for a counter attack. We’re very offensive-oriented; we want to move the ball and we want to play in tight spots … We want this place to be a place where the fans come to enjoy good soccer, first of all, and then to get wins is great.”
Beyond tactical reasons, numerous players complimented the home support in Crew Stadium tonight, including Finlay, who had an emotional dedication to Kirk Urso after his first home goal and Michael Parkhurst, who made his return to Columbus with a late-match substitution.
“It’s nice to be back home,” said Parkhurst. “It’s a few weeks earlier than I anticipated or wanted, but it’s really good to be home. It was a really nice ovation when I came on the field, I heard everybody, and I was really appreciative of that and the support that everyone’s given me here.”
It was the perfect way to end a perfect performance by the Crew — one that it needed.