After a 5-0 thrashing of DC United, Columbus Crew SC earned a first round bye in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, meaning they advance directly to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Now that they have reached the playoffs for the second time under head coach and sporting director, Gregg Berhalter, the play on the field and team chemistry has improved. Last year, Crew SC made it to the knockout round against the New England Revolution. This year, they're hoping to take it a step further. Thanks to amazing performances from striker Kei Kamara, midfielders Fedrico Higuain, and Ethan Finlay, the Crew are just five games away from their second MLS Cup in franchise history.
Columbus enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in MLS; here are five reasons why they will be the ones to lift MLS Cup come December 6th.
1.) Kei Kamara
Joining the Black and Gold in the offseason, the Sierra-Leonean striker netted 22 goals, which tied him for first in the race for the MLS Golden Boot, which is handed out to the player who scored the most goals throughout the season. Unfortunately, due to yellow card accumulation, Kamara was out for the last game of the season, and left the window wide open for Toronto FC forward, Sebastian Giovinco, who was awarded the boot on a tie-breaker. However, Kamara will be back for the playoffs. The dynamic and lateral play of Kamara can be very dangerous to the opposition, especially if left unmarked in the 18-yard box.
2.) Wing Play
Crew SC are pretty good when it comes to playing the ball out wide. Players such as Finlay and Justin Meram are good service players who can set up a cross to the box, and pray that it finds the back of the net. Defender Waylon Francis is also dangerous from out wide.
Crew SC are good at the passing game. Although it breaks down at times, if they can keep their composure, and remain calm, they can dominate the field. They just have to find feet, and go for the long balls at appropriate times. Once receiving the ball, players must remember to keep their heads up, look for options, and play the ball in to feet. It's easy.
With about a quarter of the season remaining, the defense was not playing up to scratch. But with the recent acquisition of Argentine defender Gaston Sauro, the backline is steady and always in position. This is the real deal, and the backline cannot slack now.
Yes, the loyal fan base of the famous Nordecke is the last reason why Crew SC will make it to the MLS Cup Final, and win it. Strange? Not really. Always in full voice, chanting, screaming, and cheering, the presence of this fan base can be felt all around MAPFRE Stadium. It's a good way for the team to get the energy, and feed off of it, onto the field. They bring the noise, and best believe they will bring the noise all the way to final.
The time starts now Columbus Crew SC. The quest for the cup begins. It's for the Cup. It's for Columbus.