There are 11 games left in the regular season but for the Columbus Crew it’s time to put up or shut, beginning with their match at Inter Miami CF on Saturday.
Columbus (7-10-6, 27 points), the reigning MLS Cup champion, has lost seven of eight and enters play on Thursday in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind D.C. United for the final spot. D.C. has played one fewer match.
“You can talk as long as you want about it,” Crew defender Vito Wormgoor said, “but what you need is a victory and get the confidence up again.”
Miami (7-9-5, 26 points) hasn’t had to worry about either of those lately. Since bottoming out with a 5-0 loss to Supporters’ Shield leader New England on July 9, the Herons are 5-1-3 in the past nine games. That includes three wins and a tie in the past four.
“We’re not thinking about winning, we’re not thinking about playoffs; we’re thinking about the next game, performance levels, attitude, behaviors,” Miami coach Phil Neville said. “If we keep those behaviors, we’re going to have a really good season.”
Miami’s rise can be attributed to late-game heroics. A 90th-minute goal by Brek Shea gave the Herons a 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Sept. 4, their third match-winning goal scored in the 90th minute or later.
“This team never knows when it is beaten, never knows when to give up, never knows when to stop trying to win a game of football,” Neville said.
The Crew’s woes are the opposite, having trailed 2-0 in the first half six times. Part of the problem has been a disjointed roster because of injuries and national team call-ups.
Coach Caleb Porter said defender back Josh Williams, midfielder Liam Fraser, winger Luis Diaz and striker Gyasi Zardes could return to the starting lineup, while defender Milton Valenzuela was upgraded to questionable.
“With more options available, that’ll help for sure,” Porter said.
–Field Level Media