Crew's destiny now uncontrollable
With two matches remaining - both against playoff competitor New England Revolution – the Columbus Crew are in the precarious position of not controlling their own destiny.
For the next two weeks, the club will need to win both games, one in New England and one in Columbus, and get a lot of help from other results around the league.
For winger Dominic Oduro, the situation the Crew find themselves in comes as a result of missed opportunities earlier in the season.
"I was talking to some of the guys, and I said, 'I can't even count the games that we could have easily killed it and not been in this scenario,'" he said. "We put ourselves in this situation, and we've just got to deal with it."
Midfielder Wil Trapp said that keeping the team's fate out of their hands is frustrating to deal with as the season comes to a close.
"It's never easy. It's kind of an uncomfortable feeling when you don't have your destiny in your own hands," he said. "But that's the position we're in. We can't argue about it, we just have to, like [Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss] said, keep doing what we've been doing."
That instruction from Bliss has been key, said veteran goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who credited the coach for keeping the team focused.
"With his mentality that he's brought to us… the coach's message has always been positive," Gruenebaum said. "Let's worry about ourselves. Whatever the result we earn is what we earn, and whatever else happens, we can take in stride."
Bliss echoed that sentiment after Crew training.
"We can't worry about the other results and the other teams and what they're doing," he said. "We're looking for them to help us, but we can't rely on anyone but ourselves. We've got to do what we can do and hopefully something breaks the other way."
For Oduro, who has been in MLS since 2006, the tumultuous season will be a learning experience for the young team, and one that they can build on in the short and long-term.
"It's a way for you to grow up in this league," he said. "Hopefully we'll learn a lot from it, whether we make it this season or come in next season, we've got to learn from it and move on."
If results should fall in line, Gruenebaum said the rest of the league should be worried about having to play the Crew in the postseason.
"If we can get some wins and something falls to us, whether we're perceived as back in the playoffs or not means nothing to us because we've been playing really well lately," he said. "We feel like we can carry that on and be that hot team. If we're in the playoffs, we're dangerous, and other teams need to watch out for that."