It's not a stretch to say that the Crew's upcoming three-match August homestand could make or break its MLS Cup Playoff chances. Most MLS clubs have exactly one such stretch in their 2014 schedule – 15 of 19 to be exact, with the LA Galaxy being the only club with two. No club has a four-match homestand in 2014, and the Crew has only had one other three-match homestand since the start of the 2011 season.
That being said, this August stretch is a prime opportunity to earn points, and one that doesn't come around very often. That's a fact that is not lost on the Black & Gold.
"Playing in front of the home fans, we know it's a big opportunity to get three points," said forward Aaron Schoenfeld, specifically referring to the first match of the homestand, Saturday against Toronto FC. "They've been great for us lately, even on the road in Chicago. It was incredible to see how many fans were there."
The stretch takes on additional importance due to the teams that the Crew is slated to face: Eastern Conference rivals Toronto FC and Houston Dynamo, as well as traditional Western power LA Galaxy.
"It's a great opportunity for us to take some points at home," said winger Ethan Finlay. "I think we've struggled throughout the season to get results at home. It's a huge opportunity for us to get some points against some very good teams. Toronto is right there with us in the East, Houston with the win the other night, and obviously LA is always going to be a tough game. Three good teams."
Beyond the perks of playing in front of its home fans, the Crew is also anticipating the itinerary benefits of not having to travel for three weeks.
"If anything, you just get your flow," said Finlay. "You know exactly what the next few weeks are going to be about. It's not really going to change. You're going to have the same routine. I think that's important. When you get into a routine, if it's a winning routine, that can be really good and it can become contagious."
"Sleeping in your own bed every night is the best feeling," added Schoenfeld. "We get to get into a routine, we don't have to travel, we don't have to deal with airport delays and eating hotel food. Hopefully we'll be fit and ready to go."