Saturday night's 4-1 Columbus Crew win over the LA Galaxy was a statement victory for a team looking for confidence in a push for the MLS Cup playoffs. It was a big win, in front of a big crowd, against one of MLS' marquee teams.
The Galaxy are certainly no slouches this season. Although they sit in fourth in the Western Conference standings, LA entered the match seven points better than the Crew and are one of the top teams in points per game. The Galaxy have one of the league's best defense, conceding just 19 goals before the Black and Gold's outburst, and had not allowed more than two goals all year.
"I think it was a great result for us," midfielder Ethan Finlay said after the match.
"I think it's a game that hopefully we can look back at come November and say this was a turning point for us. It's a really good team over there with a championship pedigree and we took it to them for 90 minutes tonight."
In order for this to become a turning point, performances like this must become more of the norm rather than the exception. Columbus must find a way to carry their play from this game into the upcoming contests.
How does a team do this? Head coach Gregg Berhalter believes that's the ultimate question in sports.
"You tell me. If I knew that, I wouldn't be here standing in front of you guys," he jokingly told reporters this week.
"I mean listen, that's the great experiment. How do you turn one result into many more?"
This is what Berhalter and his staff are paid to figure out, but they have a player on the roster who has some ideas.
"You try and take away all of the positives from the game and continue to work off that," Finlay said. "You also look at some of the negative things: how we gave up the goal and when we gave up the goal."
One take away for Berhalter is that his team has been playing well. The Crew are 3-1-1 over their previous five games and suffered a disappointing, last-second loss to Sporting Kansas City previous to that.
"I look over the stretch of games, we've been playing well," Berhalter said. "The Toronto game was disappointed obviously, but that's a team we just haven't matched up well against."
This is the time of the season when good teams start clicking. Putting a run together a run at this point would not only move Columbus up the Eastern Conference standings - they currently reside in in fourth place but are tied for the most games played - but also give them momentum heading into the post season. This will require focus.
"It's just one win," midfielder Ben Speas said of the LA game.
"We've got to keep moving forward especially against these Eastern Conference opponents and get some more points on the board. This is nice, but we have to look forward to Houston."
The Houston Dynamo come to town on Saturday night to conclude the Crew's three game home stand. If they can get a win, it will be six points over those three contests and put them in a good place for the final two months of the season.
"We celebrated the win tonight, we had a great crowd, but we go back and focus on Houston," Finlay said.
"It's a really good team and they're right below us, coming off a win last night against Philly. We have to be ready for a really good team to come in here and hopefully we can get another three points."
Columbus has 10 games remaining in the regular season and nine of those are against teams from the East. All 10 contests are against teams that currently sit below the Crew in the standings.
"We have to focus now on the East" Finlay said.
"I think pretty much every team we play except for Chivas is out of the East, so we're going to be playing against teams we're competing against in the playoff push."
The Black and Gold have an opportunity. If they can continue their momentum, a season that once looked lost could turn around very quickly.