COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When the Columbus Crew sat at 3-0-0 early in the season, some thought they could be a legitimate playoff threat.
But they followed those wins with an extended mediocre run, and it seemed that the beginning of 2014 might have been an anomaly. However, Saturday night’s 4-1 drubbing of the LA Galaxy has the team's confidence high once more.
"I think guys realized that it's time to perform," head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. "Obviously the Galaxy are a team that it's easy to get up for, because of the quality that they have. But the guys were up for it today. Going through it quickly, I don't think there's anyone who had a subpar performance, including the substitutes."
Even LA head coach Bruce Arena said he saw the best of the Crew.
"They're better commenting on it than I am," he said, "but they probably played their best game of the year. You've got to give them a lot of credit. We knew it would be a good game."
Berhalter said he wasn't as pleased with the second half, and wouldn't call the win his team's best performance, but he said the game's first 45 minutes were exactly what he's looking for.
"When you look at the first half, at our ball movement and how we weren't scared to play against a team like the Galaxy, it shows a lot," he said. "It shows a lot about what we've been working on and that the guys believe in it and they want to go out there and execute it."
Ethan Finlay continued his scorching run of form for the Crew with a goal and an assist, and said the stunning performance is what the team can do when they play their game.
"I think what you saw was execution for a full 90 minutes tonight," he said. "That's a really good team, but we said from the start of the week that we were going to play our game and our style, and we did that. It's a really good result for us."
Can Saturday's performance become the norm for the Crew? Berhalter isn't sure.
"I would hope so," he said. "But I would add that the Galaxy is a team who want to play as well. It's right up our alley to play teams like that. ...Teams that want to play, we tend to play better against.
What we need to do is sharpen the movements and the accuracy against teams that are going to drop back and play more compact."