Columbus Crew 2 hosts Inter Miami II at Historic Crew Stadium on Thursday, hoping to begin a new winning streak to two after last week’s 4-2 comeback victory against Chicago Fire II. This will be Crew 2’s first opportunity to exact revenge on an opponent.
Because the Black & Gold have only lost two games this year, there hasn’t been much need for revenge. But Columbus’ first ever game was a 2-0 at Miami back in late March.
“We are the team everyone wants to beat,” said Crew 2 defender Mo Farsi.
He isn’t lying. The Black & Gold comes into Thursday’s game tied with the best record in MLS NEXT Pro. That is largely due to a seven-game winning streak that occurred after that opening-day loss to Inter.
“We were not entirely ourselves in game one, We were a little bit shy, still trying to get to know each other,” said head coach Laurent Courtois of that match.
There is no doubt that this is a different Columbus team than the one that went to South Florida to start the year. Last weekend’s match proved as much. After going down two goals to Chicago Fire II in the first half, it seemed as though a second straight loss was in the cards for Crew 2.
The second half turnaround, however, showcased the spirit this team has developed throughout the first 10 games of the season.
“We looked at the guys and said, ‘We run more. We need to be cleaner.’ We were just straight with each other and said what wasn’t working,” said Farsi of the halftime locker room in Chicago.
The honesty paid off in a major way, as in the second half, the Black & Gold scored four unanswered goals and won the game decisively. That is something that Inter Miami II did not see in the first game, this proven the resiliency of this team.
Inter, on the other hand, has had a nearly opposite season as Columbus. After taking care of business at home against Crew 2 in Week 1, Miami has only won three games since. Inter Miami get it back to their winning ways, defeating New England Revolution II — the second place team in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference — last week, snapping a five-game losing streak that saw the team lose every game in May.
One of the stars of this Inter side is Romeo Beckham, son of soccer legend and Inter Miami owner David Beckham. Beckham is carving out a name for himself as he is tied (with Farsi and North Texas FC Hope Avayevu) for the most assists in MLS NEXT Pro with five on the year so far. Miami’s defense has been sloppy this season, but the team’s attack could make the Black & Gold pay if they come out sleeping at the wheel like the first half against Chicago.
Another reason Columbus was able to bounce back on the road on Saturday was due to the team’s star forward Jacen Russell-Rowe returning to the lineup after a short-term loan with the first team. The young forward scored in the 81st minute against Chicago to seal the win for Crew 2. That goal was Russell-Rowe’s seventh of the season, the second-best mark in MLS NEXT Pro.
“Really happy for him obviously (the team) supports him,” said Courtois of the MLS NEXT Pro Player of the Month. “They know what he is capable of and we’re waiting for his speech because it’s kind of a fun moment too, for all of us really.”
Added Farsi on Russell Rowe: “I was really happy for him, he deserves it. We’re looking forward to having more guys in this locker room to be player of the month.”
With a team that doesn’t have a ton left to prove, it will be interesting to see if Crew 2 comes out with a vengeance against Inter Miami II and if that will be a good thing or not. Kickoff for the match is set for 7 p.m. ET at Historic Crew Stadium.