"Every game is a final for us because we're not safe, no one is safe. We've got to keep doing the things that have gotten us the last two performances."
This quote from Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp is the way the Black and Gold are approaching the remaining nine games of the 2014 season. After two straight wins and results in five of the last six contests, the Crew are certainly in contention for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, but they understand work remains.
"I think we've been riding the wave off that L.A. game, but that's the thing we have to overcome," Trapp said.
"We can't think, okay, we've won two games in a row and now we're comfortable and get away from what we've been doing the last two weeks. That's a big obstacle for us but I think we're up to the task."
This week's opposition is the Montreal Impact, who have struggled this season with the worst record in MLS and have only one win in their last nine games.
"Montreal is in last place but they're a good team and coming off a not that bad of a performance against a good team at New York," midfielder Ethan Finlay said.
That performance was a 4-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls, the Impact's third game in eight days, in a match where they led at Red Bull Arena. Now with a week's rest, the team returns home, seeking revenge for the 2-1 loss to a struggling Columbus side a month and a half ago.
Due to their poor performances, head coach Frank Klopas has made changes from the team the Crew saw in that victory.
One thing Klopas has done to change things up is to go with one striker despite having two solid options in Marco Di Vaio and Jack McInerney. Even though this takes one of the forwards off the field, it gives Montreal more numbers in the midfield.
"Their offensive transition, looking in behind for those guys running and guys running off of them," Trapp said when asked about the midfield numbers.
"They've got some tricky players in behind Di Vaio with [Dilly Duka,] [Andres Romero,] and [Ignacio Piatti.] Skillful, definitely dangerous but if we play our style and keep the ball and make them chase, it's going to be a long day for them."
This is the focus for the Black and Gold in every game and recently their system has begun to yield results. The Crew have scored seven goals in their last two games while only conceding one. Both of those matches occurred at home, so how will it translate on the road?
"We like going on the road. We consider ourselves a good road team, a strong road team. We enjoy the challenges of going on the road," head coach Gregg Berhalter said.
"I think it's a mindset. The guys realize there's certain keys to the game and keys to our performance and then when we go out and look for those and look to execute it, it makes the game recognizable whether it's at home or away."
Columbus certainly hope to carry their performances away from the friendly confines of Columbus Crew Stadium because, with the standings as they are, they can't afford to let points slip away.
"It's still real tight," Finlay said of the standings.
"You have [Toronto FC] who we're tied with right now but they're ahead of us because of games in hand. New York's right there, [the New England Revolution are] right there, [the Philadelphia Union are] right there. So it's still so tight."
The Impact are likely out of the playoffs for 2014, but are still a hungry team trying to get back on the right track to end the year. Slowing down one of the league's hottest teams would be one way to do that. For the Crew, like Trapp said, every game is a final and they must keep getting results.
Another three points would keep the momentum going before Columbus returns home for a date with Chivas USA the following Sunday.