In the final seconds, he brought on Adam Jahn, a player who played only 316 minutes and scored one goal during the regular season, as his final tactical move.
At the biggest moment of the year, Berhalter turned to the forward to do one thing: make a penalty kick in the shootout.
“We are very comfortable with the role he can play in penalty kicks,” he said of Jahn. “Obviously subbing him in just for that reason. It was a 120-minute game so we were very comfortable with subbing him in in that role.”
Despite having never taken a penalty kick in a match in his year and a half with Crew SC, Jahn was used to the pressure of spot kicks. As the forward for his teams, the California native took them in both high school and college.
But never in a situation like this one where his first touch of the ball would also be his last.
As it turned out, Jahn, the fourth penalty kick taker for the Black & Gold, had the chance to be a surprise hero. Make his spot kick and his team wins and advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Miss and he gives Atlanta a lifeline in front of 67,221 of the club’s diehard supporters.
“To be honest I wasn’t really thinking,” Jahn said of what was going through his head at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “I just picked my spot and I executed it. It was as simple as that. I didn’t really try to psych myself out or anything like that. I’d say I was just calm and poised.”
Jahn’s shot went to his right and goalkeeper Brad Guzan went the other way. Make. Crew SC advance.
Just as calmly as Jahn stepped up to the penalty spot with the game on the line, he looked at the United crowd, held his index finger to his mouth and gave a “shhh” sign. While he certainly quieted the Five Stripes’ crowd, the gesture was not meant as a sign of disrespect.
“I had that planned,” Jahn admitted. “One of my best friends from college, who I played with at Stanford, he’s starting a brand called Don’t Miss Don’t Matter and the logo is a guy going like that with his hand.
“The whole gist of it is while game on the line, you sink the winning shot and you silence the haters. If you don’t miss, nothing matters.”
With bigger names like Federico Higuain — who made his penalty kick to begin the shootout — or Ola Kamara — who would have been the fifth taker — on the Columbus roster, it was Jahn, who played just one minute, who sealed passage to the semifinals for Crew SC.
Although he didn’t feature as much as he would have liked throughout the 2017 season, Jahn didn’t let that impact his mentality as he stepped to the penalty spot for the biggest shot of the year. Don’t Miss Don’t Matter.
“I think it kind of reiterates the statement we’ve been making,” Jahn said. “The statement (Wil Trapp) has been saying and all the guys that we’re not going to get brushed aside. A lot of people don’t want us to succeed, but we think we can win. And I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”