COLUMBUS, Ohio - With a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders, a team that many consider the best in MLS, Columbus Crew SC sent a strong message to the rest of the league on Saturday night – but you wouldn't know it by talking to them.
"It's business as usual," Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said calmly after the match. "I'm obviously pleased with the game, the way the game was played. I told the guys to go out and entertain the fans and the people watching, and I think they did that. ... But as far as we're concerned, we know [Seattle] are a good opponent, but it's just another game."
Columbus is building a reputation for mirroring the attitudes of their coach, and the workmanlike approach to each game even resonates with the players.
"Maybe people might see it as a statement, but for us we just see it as a group of guys working really hard," Crew SC midfielder Justin Meram said. "You don't see us in the limelight every single day. It's just a humble group from top to bottom from the coaching staff to players. We just love playing in big games, and teams don't like to come here and play us."
Saturday's win wasn't just any win, however. It was the first time that Crew SC had beaten Seattle in Columbus since their introduction to MLS in 2009, and the second win in a row for the Black and Gold against Seattle.
But for Crew SC, even that landmark was overshadowed by the three points.
"We care about winning games, regardless of who it's against," midfielder Ethan Finlay said. "It makes it a little bit sweeter for our fans because there's a little bit of a rivalry with the expansion and how that worked out. So right now we've got their number, and we hope we can keep it that way."
And with a stellar 4-1-0 record at home in 2015, Crew SC is more concerned with making their home field intimidating.
"We should be confident," midfielder Tony Tchani said. "We have to make sure that teams, when they come here, should be scared of us. We should try and make a statement that at home, we're scary."
Berhalter did admit the importance of the match, but just moments after the match seemed to have already begun thinking about the club's trip to San Jose next week.
"I don't want to pretend that we're not happy with the win, that it's not a big win, that it wasn't against a great team; it was," he said. "But we just keep working and keep plugging away, and we have a tough game next week."
Andrew King covers Columbus Crew SC for MLSsoccer.com.