With the game over, the win sealed and a big lead heading into leg two of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Columbus Crew SC diehards had one message.
“We’re not done yet,” was the collective cheer from the Nordecke.
That message was reiterated in the locker room shortly after as Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter explained to his players that the 4-1 advantage was only half the battle.
“Our work isn’t done by a long shot,” he said. “I think the guys have a good understanding of that. We made that clear in the locker room now. There’s 90 minutes, maybe extra time to play until the series is over and it’s going to be tough.
New York’s going to regroup, they’re going to come together really strong and be ready for a good game on Sunday.”
For Columbus, this is another piece along the path of a now 12-game unbeaten run that they hope leads the team to the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 9.
But what’s allowed the team to reach this point is not looking further ahead than necessary and taking each day, each game, each opponent as its own.
“We just put our heads down, we keep working and focus on the next opponent,” Berhalter said.
“We certainly accept momentum and we want to use it to our benefit but we don’t rely on it. I think it’s dangerous when you rely on it. We still have to prepare.”
Columbus has six days between leg one and two to get ready for an NYCFC side who, grabbed an away goal and fired 18 other shots in this contest.
Back at home, on a small field on Sunday, the Citizens will be more comfortable and aware of what they must do in order to keep the season alive.
“Obviously they got a goal so they’re going to be fired up,” winger Justin Meram said. “They can score in bunches at times.
“They had a lot of chances tonight as well. Both sides did. Obviously we could have had more than four goals and they could have had more than one.”
Preparation will be key for Crew SC, a team that got just eight results on the road in the regular season, but already went to Atlanta United and won in a penalty kick shootout this playoffs.
So what is the approach for the Black & Gold?
“I think we have to approach it the same way we had this game,” captain Wil Trapp said. “There’s a measured aggression about it. There’s a focus to win, first and foremost if possible, and then to get a result. Because we know going there, if you sit in, they’re a good enough team to score one, two, three, four goals.”
Forward Ola Kamara agreed.
“We have to realize that it’s not over,” he said. “I think they’ll come out with a lot of intensity and we have to match that.”
While Crew SC fans can enjoy this victory until the next game, the coaches and players don’t have that luxury. Once tomorrow hits, it’s back to work and the focus needs to ramp up to yet another level.
But until then, the players will celebrate a big win.
“This is a special night for everyone,” defender Josh Williams said. “For the city, for the team, for the organization. It’s a special night. You’ve got to celebrate stuff like this. We worked hard. We put ourselves in a good position, but we’re going to attack this week like it’s 0-0.”
In the words of the Nordecke, “We’re not done yet!”