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What We Learned: Crew vs. Atlanta United

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Here are our biggest takeaways from Saturday’s thrilling victory against the defending champions.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

While nobody thought it was possible, Columbus Crew SC went into the home of the defending MLS Cup champions and came back with a victory. On Saturday, the Black & Gold defeated Atlanta United 3-1 in the first-ever regular season victory against the Five Stripes in Atlanta.

With the win, Columbus sits six points from the seventh and final playoff spot currently held by the New England Revolution, who have a game in hand. It does move the Crew one step closer to making a late case for a postseason spot.

Here are our biggest takeaways from Saturday night’s win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It’s not over until it’s over

Head coach Caleb Porter knows the uphill climb the team must take take in order for the Black & Gold to reach the MLS Cup playoffs in his first season in charge. While it looks slightly more achievable given what happened Saturday night, the biggest takeaway is that this team is certainly not going to go down without a fight.

Though a daunting stretch lies ahead, a win at such a difficult place to get results, especially in a league where road victories are hard to come by, gives the side a much-needed boost moving forward. A long road trip across the country to Vancouver can be argued as a more difficult challenge.

It’s a good start for a stretch where four consecutive victories are an absolute must. Although Saturday was special and something that Crew fans should savor, just note that there is still much work to be done.

Regardless of what happens from here on out, Porter and company are going to go out swinging.

Porter finally has his team

Getting a result for the first time ever in arguably the most hostile environment that the league boasts, and in convincing fashion, says a lot about where the team has come from after quite the up-and-down season. Porter finally has the team that he’s needed to succeed in his role as Crew head coach all along.

Post-transfer window, the Black & Gold have gone 2-1-3. Not the best look on paper, but two of those three draws came from goals conceded in the 90th minute or later. The third was a sloppy 2-2 draw against FC Cincinnati. But to the Black & Gold’s defense, the team came back from an early deficit . A legitimate case can be made that Columbus should have won all three of those games. If so, the Crew would be on the cusp of a playoff berth and a much-different narrative than today.

It’s easy to see the quality this team possesses on the attacking front. Winger Luis Diaz has the capability to be a consistent playmaker in Porter’s system. It was evident seeing just how he has the ability to create his own goals.

The team is learning and building

One of the narratives of the 2019 season, as touched on above, is the late goals the team conceded to see points slip away. In the match prior to the Atlanta win, the Crew gave up a very late goal to turn a 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire into a 1-1 tie, for example. This week, though, the defense remained tight throughout the match, holding one of MLS’s most explosive offenses to a few chances and just one finish.

On the other end of the field, the Black & Gold have found a scoring touch that lacked for most of the year. While Columbus can still be more clinical — and will then be very dangerous — the team is putting chances away and it’s a positive sign for the future.

Playoffs or not, you can see what this team is going to become and that’s an exciting prospect for Crew fans moving forward.


What were some of your takeaways? Can the Crew keep the momentum going into Vancouver? Let us know in the comments below.