Columbus Crew SC continued its mastery at MAPRFRE Stadium with last weekend’s 3-2 win over Seattle Sounders FC. Now, the Black & Gold are looking to take their goal-scoring craft on the road.
During their five home matches this season, the Black & Gold have scored the most home goals (13) and recorded the most home assists (12) of any Major League Soccer team while tallying two shutouts and conceding only five goals.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has a simple explanation for why his side has been a powerhouse in its own house.
“The crowd,” he said. “When they get behind us, it’s a great atmosphere. When our stadium is full and the Nordecke is rocking, we’re a tough team to beat. The goals indicate that.”
Forward Kei Kamara said his team has been able to feed off the crowd at MAPFRE Stadium.
“They are really out there and give you the extra energy that you need,” he said. “For us, being out there has been good, but we have to translate that also when we get on the road.”
Having won four of their five matches at home, Crew SC now aims to grab its first away victory of the season as it heads out West to take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Crew SC currently is 0-2-2 away from home. But even though three away points have been elusive so far, the Black & Gold have had positive results on the road. In April, they earned two draws during a coast-to-coast road trip that spanned 6,000 miles in less than a week. They tied Eastern Conference leaders New England Revolution, 0-0, and the West’s top team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-2.
“New England was a pretty strong road performance against a tough team. Vancouver, the same way,” Berhalter said. “So we’re happy with those performances.”
The coach was less happy with the most recent away match that ended in a 2-0 loss to D.C. United.
“D.C., we are unhappy with the way it broke down,” he said, “but again, it’s a game by game. We are focused on San Jose and we want to continue to be aggressive, whether we’re at home or on the road.”
Berhalter said that while the results haven’t been there on the road, he sees happy with how his players have approached the away matches.
“We go out there to be aggressive and we want to take the game to the opponent,” he said. “Even in D.C. we did that. I am happy with the mindset. The focus now is on getting something out of this game.”
The combined win total of Crew SC’s away opponents to date is 19. That’s more than the Eastern Conference’s bottom eight teams combined (18). In San Jose, Columbus is set to face another strong opponent, as the Quakes (4-4-2) sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. They hold a 2-1 home record and are coming off a four-game road trip, during which they recorded one win, one loss and two draws.
Columbus and San Jose have played to four consecutive draws, including 1-1 results in each of the last three seasons, when they met only once. Crew SC’s last victory at San Jose came in 2009 when they defeated the Quakes 3-0.
“We know they are going to be difficult to break down. They are going to be good on set-pieces and they are going to be able to play,” Berhalter said.
Both Berhalter and Kamara praised Quakes Head Coach Dominic Kinnear for his work in San Jose.
“Dom really has a championship mentality and I’m sure he has injected that into the players over there,” says Kamara, who has played for Kinnear in Houston.
Kamara, the only Crew SC player to find the back of the net away from home this season, stressed that his side needs to take its winning mentality on the road as well.
“No matter where we are going, everybody just needs to focus and bring the same energy,” he said. “If we can just play our game, play our style, it doesn’t really matter [where we play].”
Listening to Kamara, you get the sense that the recent victory over Seattle is helping shape that winning mentality.
“We are playing better soccer right now than most teams in the League,” he said. “If we can go in there with the right mentality we can definitely get something from that game.”
Crew SC and the Quakes kick-off Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET. Catch the match live on TimeWarner Cable SportsChannel, CD 102.5 or La Mega 103.1.