“After that, it is to be limitless,” Nancy said, having just led the Crew to their 14th win and a postseason berth with five games left in the regular season.
Midfielder Yaw Yeboah said he and his teammates quickly bought into this mentality because they knew there was a chance to “achieve something great” beyond just securing the team’s first spot in the playoffs since winning the MLS Cup in 2020.
“For us, ‘good enough’ is not good enough,” Yeboah said.
What Wilfried Nancy means by the Crew playing 'limitless' soccer
Nancy remembers his first two weeks in Columbus.
The Crew's new coach aimed to test the limits of his roster, introducing his players to what he called “chaotic practice” to force mistakes and force a new perspective on the pitch through discomfort.
And as practices continued, Nancy saw a team slowly start to figure things out.
“For me, it was the trigger that we can do something great,” Nancy said. “Playoff or no playoff, I don’t know, but we can do something great because they were able to adjust themselves.”
The Crew showed just such an ability to adjust Wednesday.
Coming off a 4-3 loss to Orlando City SC in which they allowed three goals in the final 20 minutes, the Crew secured their ninth clean sheet of 2023 against Chicago Fire FC with a slow, possession-based offensive look that would strike only when the opportunity arose. Each goal came off the foot of Cucho Hernandez, who recorded his second hat trick of the season.
“Yes, I know the fans want us to score a lot of goals, and I want that also, but we need to organize the moment to attack quick,” Nancy said. “(Wednesday), I really liked the game because we were able to attack quick when it was the good moment and keep the tempo. And when you keep the tempo, you play with the mental aspect of the opposition.
“(Wednesday) was a mature game for us.”
To Nagbe, it seemed like a fitting game to secure a playoff berth with.
“It feels good, but we’re not satisfied,” Nagbe said. “I think the goal now is to move higher up in the table. I think we’re capable of doing that, and we’ll see where we finish off at the year's end.”
Nancy knows what the Crew is capable of. The club's potential is “limitless” as the playoffs approach.
But to reach that potential, they have to continue to grow.
“To be honest with you, it's going to be a good exercise because again, do we focus on the outcome or do we focus on the task?” Nancy said. “Guys, we suffer to get this win. Again, we have to respect ourselves, we have to respect football and we have to play. ...
“That’s why we have to push. Yes, we have to play our game.”
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Crew 'not satisfied' after securing MLS postseason berth