OBETZ, Ohio — What a difference a month can make.
When the Columbus Crew visited Sporting Kansas City on September 7, the team had just fired its coach, had fallen well out of a playoff place, and had only won consecutive matches once in 2013.
After interim head coach Brian Bliss opened his account with a win in his debut against Houston, he saw his side take a pounding in a one-sided 3-0 loss to SKC just three days later. Sporting made easy work of the struggling Crew.
In the subsequent three matches, Columbus have taken nine points and are playing easily their best soccer of the season, and perhaps some of the best in MLS. The Crew have positioned themselves as one of the hottest teams in the league heading into the final month of the season, and with only three games remaining, Saturday’s clash between SKC and the Crew (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live) could be another pivotal Eastern Conference result.
“We’ve got to give ourselves that chance to get in the playoffs,” Columbus winger Dominic Oduro told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “They know we’re bringing the pressure, and that’s what we’re going to do. I’m not even going to lie about it. I’m sure they know we’re just going to bring the fire on them.”
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“I think the key to beating them is figuring out the three guys in the middle who make them tick,” Trapp said. “And if we sort that out, I think we’ll be fine. We’ll be dangerous, we’ll create chances, but that’s the key to stopping them.”
Bernardo Añor, who roams the flank opposite of Oduro, said earlier in the season that the jersey of the opposition doesn’t affect his mentality. But for the visiting Kansas City, Añor has changed his tune.
“To be honest, I’m not going to say Kansas City is just any other team,” he said. “I respect the team. They play soccer pretty well. They’re coming to Columbus, and they’re going to have to play even better than they have before.
"We’re really going to go at them and show them the team we really are.”