COLUMBUS – In a symbolic moment following Columbus Crew SC’s, 2-0, playoff-clinching victory over D.C. United on Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, Wil Trapp and Federico Higuain shook hands and embraced in the locker room.
The two midfielders are among the longest-tenured members of the Black & Gold, and have dealt with highs and lows during their time in Columbus. Saturday night was a high: Crew SC has another chance to #ClaimGlory with a berth in the Audi 2017 Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs
Higuain joined the team as a Designated Player in 2012, while the club's captain, Trapp, signed as a Homegrown Player in 2012. The two were on last year’s 8-14-12 that finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, which was seen as a disappointment by many — including Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
"It’s closing the door on the great disappointment of last year," Berhalter said. "No one was satisfied with last year. The tone was set early on in preseason, of how hard we were going to work, of what we were going to do to get back to this point. Give the guys all the credit in the world because they stayed focused and disciplined to actually achieve it."
This Crew SC team is a far cry from last season, earning their 50th point on Saturday evening and their 15th victory. The Black & Gold are unbeaten in eight straight games.
Not only are the team accolades piling up, but individual milestones are falling as each game goes by. Trapp made his 125th appearance as a member of Crew SC on Saturday, while Higuain gained sole possession of second place in all-time assists for the club with 46.
It may be high times for those wearing the Black & Gold, both on the pitch and in the stands, but Trapp refuses to let complacency creep in.
"That's what’s expected, Trapp said. "We're expected to make the playoffs. In our quality, our style of play we feel like we should be one of the teams competing for the MLS Cup every year. Last year was obviously a major disappointment for all of us, as players, for the coaching staff, for the fans, for the club as a whole. This is where we belong."
With two regular-season contests remaining, Crew SC is assured of finishing no lower than sixth place in the Eastern Conference by virtue of its win against D.C. United at MAPFRE Stadium on September 30. The win against D.C. United was the Black & Gold’s 12th regular-season home victory of 2017, setting a new club record for most regular-season wins at home.
Final postseason seeding will be determined in the coming weeks as the Black & Gold (15-12-5, 50 points) conclude the regular season along with all other MLS clubs.
Up next, Crew SC travels to take on Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium on Sunday, October 15 (5 p.m. ET / The CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2, CD102.5 FM, La Mega 103.1 FM, English radio stream available).