Crew SC made history last Sunday with the 3-1 overtime win to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. Never before have the Black & Gold advanced after losing the first leg game. And the way they did it was just astonishing. To come back after a missed offside call that gave Montreal the advantage in the series, then Kei Kamara’s missed PK, and still get the result; it shows the resiliency of a championship caliber team.
The Massive now find themselves two games away from potentially hosting MLS Cup at Mapfre Stadium if Portland wins in the West. Of course, New York Red Bulls will have a lot to say about that. The Supporters’ Shield winners are a great team that has played it’s best soccer down the stretch. In the regular season the Crew lost two of three against the side. All three games played were 2-1 affairs which could have gone one way or another if the ball had bounced differently. The NJ based side is probably more stable defensively and least likely to make mistakes as they do not take many risks in the back. The midfield is the backbone of both teams, especially centrally. Both teams feature a clinical forward that knows how to make themselves available and get open for shots.
The Red Bull play a high pressure possession style of soccer that has given Crew SC fits this year if they are unable to break the pressure and build out of the back. In the their last encounter at Red Bull Arena, too many back passes to the keeper lead to mistakes in the back that allowed NY to score two easy goals. For the team to advance, it has to be creative in how it chooses to play out of the back. They have to be true to who they are as a team, but at the same time they can’t force things if it isn’t there as they tried to in NJ on that day. If the mistakes the Black & Gold made in the first leg against Montreal manifest themselves in the series against NYRB, that team will take advantage of those mistakes.
The first leg is crucial for Crew SC. If they are to advance to MLS Cup, they are going to have to make history again. The Crew have never won the first leg in a two game aggregate series in the playoffs since the league moved to the format in 2003. In a lot of ways with this format, MLS puts the higher seeded team at a disadvantage with the first game at the lower seeded team’s stadium and the away goals rule. At home, the Black & Gold is a team that is capable of scoring a lot of goals especially if it gets on the board first and the other team has to open up to attack. I expect to see the Massive come out and put a lot of pressure on NY in the opening minutes to get that first goal and, if they do, try to put the series away in one game.
The Nordecke and the Stadium are sold out for this match which is MASSIVE. In fact, Crew Union’s allotment of 330 tickets sold out in around 21 hours. Then Crew SC’s ticket office opened section 102 and made it a part of the Nordecke for the game. We were able to purchase 75 more tickets. Those were spoken for in less than an hour. As always, tickets must be picked up at the tailgate under the Crew Union tent. All pre-purchased tickets must be picked up by 4pm or they will be taken to will call. All tickets reserved, but not purchased will be released as soon as the pre-purchased tickets are taken to will call.
The ticket office has opened the stage and wants to fill it with supporters. If you were left out of tickets in the Nordecke or your friends are looking for tickets, they can go to this link to purchase tickets on the stage. The code is “Supporter.” The tickets are $25 each for supporters.
As for the tailgate, the Ole Farts will be back with the rare second catered tailgate for a month. They will be doing their popular chili cookoff which is usually reserved for Crewsmas. There will be about 4 to 5 different kinds including a vegetarian option, but if you would like to bring a recipe of your own, you’re more then welcome to do so. We’ll have North High Brewery Beer either in keg or can form for all members to enjoy as well.
Lastly I would like to mention the NorOnTour trip to NJ for the second leg on 11/29. In a common theme for this series, the bus has sold out…in 4 days. MASSIVE!!!! We are leaving Columbus at 6am Saturday 11/28 and returning immediately after the game on 11/29. NorOnTour is taking deposits for a wait list if someone on the trip decides they actually can’t make the trip. Additionally, if the demand is there, we will look into adding a second bus. If you have any interest in going, please go here and put a deposit down. If a spot doesn’t open up or a second bus isn’t viable your deposit will be refunded to you.
If you plan to travel to NJ for the game on your own and need tickets, you can get tickets by going to this link. The code is “crew103.” If you need hotel accommodations contact NorOnTour we can get you a room at our group discounted rate. The hotel is Element by Westin Harrison-Newark in Harrison, NJ across the street from Red Bull Arena and right by a Path station going to NYC.
Glory to Columbus