Sometimes you don't want to reflect on the past, especially when the past is painful. But they say you have to learn from history or else you're doomed to repeat it.
Columbus Crew SC is trying to avoid repeating history, at least last year's history.
After finishing higher in the standings than a year ago, the Black & Gold have already improved on what was a successful 2014 season. With the postseason arriving on Sunday, it's time to take the next step.
Last year at this time, Crew SC entered the playoffs winning and on a roll but with very little experience. The expectations were high, but the team faltered.
"You have individual postseason experience and then you have collective postseason experience," Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters this week. "We had some individual last year and now collectively we're there as a group."
Michael Parkhurst and Hector Jimenez were two of the players with extensive MLS Cup Playoff experience. The rest of the team was still learning how to cope with a series as opposed to regular games.
"You saw in that game last year that we lost shape in trying to press and get a goal when we're down 1-0," Berhalter said. "Losing all type of shape when you have to be patient because a 1-0 loss in the first game isn't the end of the world. You can rebound, you can come back from that. A 4-2 loss at home puts you in a real tough spot."
The Black & Gold faced the New England Revolution in the first round of the playoffs and lost the home leg 4-2, giving up a goal after just 34 minutes. As Crew SC pushed forward, looking for the equalizer at the beginning of the second half, the Revs scored again before Justin Meram pulled one back in the 64th minute.
In the end, it was a 4-2 loss that ultimately led to a 7-3 series defeat and an end to the season.
"We understand last year," Berhalter said. "We process what happened last year and we're better prepared. Now that's not saying we're going to win every game, but we're going to be better prepared."
While last season was tough to stomach at the time, Berhalter believes his team is now better prepared for this season. Sometimes, it takes a tough loss in the postseason for a team to grow into champions.
"I think it was important," Berhalter stated of last season's playoff loss. "You see any evolution of a team, you go through highs and lows and you go through events that potentially shape who you are and that's certainly an event that shaped us."
Going into the 2015 postseason, Crew SC have much more experience. Nearly every starter has played in the playoffs for the club and the other three are Kei Kamara, Harrison Afful, and Gaston Sauro, who were all very consistent this season.
The Black & Gold hope this year they aren't repeating history, but writing something new that they fans can look back on with pride.
"Collectively, we're going to be better prepared than last year," Berhalter said. "I think It's going through it. It's guys going through it, it's coaches going through it, and just understanding exactly what you have a stake."