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How Does Inexperience Play a Part for the Columbus Crew in the MLS Playoffs?

The Black and Gold don't have much in the way of experience in the post season, but they don't believe that will be an issue come Saturday.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the MLS season, the Columbus Crew were the second-youngest team in the league. Since then, the club acquired 19-year old Romain Gall and signed Emanuel Pogatetz, 31-years old.

No matter their age, there is no disputing the team's inexperience when it comes to the MLS playoffs. It has been since 2011 since the Black and Gold last played in the post season and due to that, there are very few players who have playoff experience.

"It could [have a bearing]," head coach Gregg Berhalter said when asked about his team's playoff inexperience.

"I think it's up to us how much of a factor it plays. Obviously, these games, the intensity is stepped up a little bit and it's up to us to remain calm and still play our game and not get caught up in all the other stuff that happens in a game."

As Berhalter points out, the playoffs are a different animal than regular season games typically. What is somewhat fortunate for the Crew - due to their poor play throughout the summer - is they played the last month and a half of the regular season as if they were playoff games in order to get into the post season. Their success in getting in through a series of must-win games, and climbing to third place, makes Berhalter believe they are ready to go.

"I think a good rehearsal for that was these last games in the season," he said of the playoff style. "We talked about how they're going to be, we talked about having 10 finals and it was certainly a lot of games that battle tested us for a playoff type of atmosphere."

The young players on this team could be worried about their first trip to the playoffs, but most of the team is looking at it as a positive. Club captain Michael Parkhurst said the young players are "fearlessness" and that can be a good thing come playoff time.

"I remember playing the playoffs my first year and you understand what it's all about," he said. "You understand the mentality. You understand that it's win or go home and it's good to get these guys the experience of it for sure."

For midfielder Wil Trapp, who is in his second year as a professional, a chance to play in the playoffs for the team he grew up supporting is an exciting proposition, experience or not.

"I'm pumped man," he said after the regular season finale. "Do or die, back against the wall, every game is that much more important. That's why you play the game."

He also said that the team will rely on the experience they do have in order to prepare for what is upcoming.

"I think we have guys like Hector and Michael who have been there," Trapp said. "That will help the guys like myself and the rest who haven't made the playoffs. There's good and bad with that."

For Parkhurst, who has been the team's leader all year, helping the inexperienced players doesn't really change his job description.

"Business as usual I think more," he said. "Maybe I talk to a couple guys here and there but I like leading by example so it's just time to step up."

The inexperienced will become experienced quickly in Saturday's game with the New England Revolution. The first leg is played at Columbus Crew Stadium at 4:00 and will go a long way in determining how this post season goes.