The question Columbus Crew SC players probably got tired of hearing since last Friday was about how they would react after one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history, the 5-0 road loss to Toronto FC. In the first opportunity it had after the rough defeat, the team showed great spirits to beat defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders 3-0 at home on Wednesday.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter made five lineup changes for the Sounders’ match and it was clear since the first minute that the names were not the only things that had changed. It was actually a different team on the field, one that would compete for every ball.
“So it was always going to be about the bounce back,” Berhalter said after the match. “How do we come back from a demoralizing defeat? We knew right away that the guys were different this week. The pride was hurt, but it was more than that. I think it was it was focus, it was focus and it was intensity in the training sessions. You saw today, it wasn’t perfect, but it was guys competing”.
A play around the 10th minute of the game showed the high level of energy Crew SC players had brought to the match. Look at the hustle of Hector Jimenez to fight for the ball that found Federico Higuain right before the Black & Gold’s opening goal.
“That’s something we’ve been encouraging guys to do is be aggressive. A play like that, you get a goal out of virtually nothing with a guy just competing and it was great to see from Hector,” Berhalter added.
Wil Trapp, who was the first to talk about “tough conversations” and “long looks in the mirror” after the Toronto game, was clearly on a different mindset, putting a lot more effort on the defensive side of the ball and encouraging and instructing his teammates all over the field.
Defenders Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah also communicated throughout the match, showing the sense of urgency the team needed. It was for good reason that the Black & Gold recorded the team’s first a clean sheet in four matches.
“To see that after such an embarrassing moment, and our team to bounce back the way it did; it says something about the group, it says something about the resiliency of the guys,” midfielder Ethan Finlay commented. “I’m proud of the guys tonight, I really am. I thought it was just a total performance, all around".
It is obviously important to notice that the Sounders were hugely shorthanded on this match, missing forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris and defender Chad Marshall, but Crew SC’s attitude change is promising as the team moves forward on the season.
“I think it was a good start,” Berhalter said, “but we have to be honest and say Seattle didn’t have their top quality grouping a different game with Dempsey and Morris playing for sure. But it’s a good start.”