It was just one win on a Friday night in late August. It was game No. 22 of 34 and the Columbus Crew are still below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
But a stirring 3-2 Heineken Rivalry Week victory over FC Cincinnati in the latest Hell is Real chapter could be just the boost the defending MLS Cup champions need during the regular season's stretch run.
“I’m very confident we’re going to be in a playoff position by the end of this,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. “But we’re not taking anything for granted at all. Nothing’s going to come easy, nothing’s going to be given to us. We’ve got to work for us.”
Porter believes his team’s confidence, which was wavering of late, will receive a boost from the dramatic win.
“The confidence will grow, that’s the big thing,” he said. “When you’re not winning games, the psychology is very delicate. Sometimes that psychology is very difficult to change unless you get a win. … I think this is going to help us work a little harder, believe a little more.”
Then on Friday night, FC Cincinnati took a late lead through Isaac Atanga's go-ahead goal in the 74th minute.
“There’s not many teams who lose six in a row and then go down 2-1 with 13 minutes to go that can pull out a result like that,” Porter said. “That’s pretty incredible, guys.”
Miguel Berry provided the heroics with an 81st-minute equalizer and the winner two minutes later, sending Lower.com Field into hysterics.
The Crew, who are level on points with D.C. United but below the playoff line via a tiebreaker, have six more home games remaining. Porter expects to win all of them.
“It was a great team win and I’m proud of the guys, glad they got rewarded finally,” Porter said. “We know we’re not out of the hole yet. We’ve got to keep working. This is just one win, one result. We have six more home games and our goal is to win all six. And if we do that, pick up a few on the road, we’ll be in good shape.”