Three straight wins haven’t been enough to propel the Columbus Crew into the playoff scenario – yet.
But at just a point away, this weekend provides them with a chance to collect another three points and, maybe more importantly, make a statement to the rest of Major League Soccer that Columbus will be a forced to be reckoned with in the playoffs.
Sparking the mini revolution in Columbus is Federico Higuain, whose returned from suspension/injury three matches ago has exactly coincided with their winning streak.
The Argentinian has picked up two goals and three assists during that span, directly contributing to five of their eight goals in the timeframe.
This fixture a month ago – at Sporting Park – ironically saw Kansas City throttle Columbus 3-0, and saw them sink deeper into the muck of the East’s bottom.
Then something happened.
Higuain returned, and interm manager Brian Bliss has pushed all the right buttons since that low moment.
But they’re not there yet. “The ball’s in our court a little bit” said Bliss. “We’re putting some pressure on the teams ahead of us. Our guys feel good about our game, they feel good about each other, they feel good about themselves individually. We’ve just got to carry this momentum and keep going.”
For Kansas City, they’re in no real danger, but this season they’ve been known to drop points in odd spots, such as last week at home against Philadelphia.
Clinching shouldn’t be an issue, but with upcoming matches against teams who are motivated by the playoff race (Houston, Philadelphia again, and here with Columbus), they need to bear down and get the job done.
With the home stretch in full swing, it’s now or never for clubs like Columbus – make a statement in front of your home fans, or pray for help.