and largest margin since a 3-0 win at Kansas City on June 14 -- moved them into a first-place tie with New England in the Eastern Conference and the MLS overall table. It also gave the Crew 37 points on the season, matching their output for all of last year.
"Last year wasn't a great year so it wasn't too great of a thing but to be better already than we were last year is a good thing," defender Chad Marshall said. "Hopefully, we can keep getting points and clinch that playoff spot."
Still, the Crew are aware that they have not yet clinched a playoff spot. "The East is so competitive. You can't relax," Schmid said. "The only thing that might be unfortunate in this season is you're going to have possibly a third-place team from the West or a second-place team from the West get into the playoffs with a lower point total than someone that finishes fifth or sixth in the East. That's going to be a bitter pill to swallow."
With the return of Emmanuel Ekpo, who became the first active MLS player to win an Olympic medal when Nigeria took the silver at the Beijing Games, the Crew will have a full squad available for the FC Dallas match. Having the entire group will cause Schmid some selection questions; against RSL, Pat Noonan was relegated to a second-half substitute appearance with the return of U.S. Olympian Robbie Rogers.
"I've got gray hairs. I'll probably get more gray hairs," said Schmid. "You always have different things happen. (Defender) Danny O'Rourke is out next week (caution points) so you've got to make a change there. There's World Cup qualifiers coming up, people are going to miss some."
Still, there could be a big hit to the squad the following week. Starters Frankie Hejduk (U.S.) and Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela); reserve Duncan Oughton (New Zealand) and developmental player Ricardo Pierre-Louis (Haiti) could miss the home game vs. New England to World Cup qualifiers the same day.
"There's plenty of playing time there. The players will make the decision as far as training and sometimes the opponent will make that decision for us," Schmid said. "Certainly, the competition is good. Everybody knows they're capable of playing and having a team with options to come in makes you better."