It was a long time coming for Columbus Crew SC. Sunday night was the first time the team won a playoff series since 2008. The 3-1 overtime victory, which gave the Black & Gold a 4-3 aggregate win, over the Montreal Impact also marked the first time Crew SC advanced to the Eastern Conference Final since winning MLS Cup.
The win marked the first time in franchise history that Columbus lost the first leg in a series, but won that series.
It was a big night and it was felt throughout MAPFRE Stadium.
"It was great. It was good," head coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday. "The fans were loud, they were into it, they were excited. We're playing for them. We're playing for the city of Columbus and that's something that I hope the fans understand when they're in the stadium. This it's all for them; it's all for the city and when they're behind us, it's a great atmosphere."
The sellout crowd was raucous throughout the match, even after the Impact equalized and appeared to take a stranglehold on the series. It had the desired effect on the team as they pushed through 120 minutes of soccer to advance.
"In those games, that's what it's all about," Berhalter said of his players' efforts. "It's about leaving everything on the field because in a lot of cases, there is no tomorrow. If you lose, you're done. The guys showed that."
Once the match was complete and the mission was complete, the team could finally enjoy it what they had just accomplished.
"The guys were excited," Berhalter stated. "I think any time you put that much energy and that much emotion into the game, it's going to be natural that you're excited and you're happy and there's euphoria and it's good. That's a good thing."
That was Sunday, but now the celebrations are over.
"We're focused already on the next series," Berhalter said. "It's going to be a tough series, Red Bull's a good team so obviously it's concentrated on how to beat Red Bull.
"It's controlling that and now it's refocusing and getting focused on the Red Bull."
The New York Red Bulls won the Eastern Conference and finished with the best record in Major League Soccer in 2015. New York and Columbus played three times this season, all 2-1 games, with the Red Bulls winning two of those matches.
"It's going to be tight. It's going to be a tight series," Berhalter said of what's upcoming. "They're a good team, they've proven it. They're the Supporter's Shield winners. It's going to be tough for us."
After taking Monday off, Crew SC were back on the practice field Tuesday morning. With a week off before the start of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Black & Gold have plenty of time to prepare.
Unlike last series, New York has the upper hand. Because the Red Bulls finished higher in the standings than Crew SC, Columbus will host the opening game Nov. 22, but have to play at Red Bull Arena for the decider a week later.
"I think there's a slight advantage to playing at home the second game," Berhalter admitted. "Particularly when you look at the overtime period being at your venue if you go to overtime. Our goal in the first game in the first game is going to be the same goal it was in Montreal, is to put yourself in position in the second game to advance and that's what we're going to try and do."