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Mar 22, 2024 5:43 pm

Defending champion Crew can extend historic start at Charlotte

crew yeboah

The Columbus Crew’s campaign to become the fourth team to repeat as MLS Cup champions can reach a milestone with a win at Charlotte FC on Saturday.

Columbus (3-0-1, 10 points) could become the first defending champion with 13 points through five matches, surpassing the Chicago Fire’s 12 in 1999. A tie would equal the 11 points for Los Angeles FC (2023).

The Crew have tied D.C United (1997) and LAFC from last season for the most points through 10 matches by the reigning MLS Cup champion.

Crew midfielder Yaw Yeboah is more concerned about Charlotte (1-2-1, 4 points) than breaking records.

“It’s a long season and we try to focus game-by-game. We are going to Charlotte and that’s our focus,” he said.

Yeboah said the team continues to get more comfortable playing in the system of second-year coach Wilfried Nancy.

“We’re playing the same way or even better because we are understanding ourselves much, much better,” Yeboah said. “We’ve got a lot of maturity on the pitch as well and we have new players that are adapting very well.”

Charlotte has scored three goals this season, leaving midfielder Scott Arfield with a one-word answer on how the scoring can improve.

“Courage,” Arfield said. “Obviously, you can build up or take your chances. That’s one thing that we’ve spoke about is when you get the possession, shoot. That’s the only way you’re going to score.”

Charlotte needs to contain the Crew’s potent attack led by Cucho Hernandez (three goals, one assist). Columbus shredded the New York Red Bulls’ high pressure for a 3-0 win last Saturday.

“I like to see the evolution of the game we have depending on what the opposition is going to give us. It was a really good game because of that,” Nancy said. “Not because we scored three goals but more of the performance we had during the game, the tactical flexibility we had.”

Despite the disparity in records, he is wary of Charlotte.

“They’ve played three games in a row away if I’m not mistaken, so they are waiting for us,” Nancy said. “They are ready to play against us. I know they want to do well.”

–Field Level Media

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