Columbus Crew embrace challenge vs. CF Monterrey in Champions Cup semis


As the last MLS club left standing in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, it might seem like the Columbus Crew face serious pressure.

That's not how they're necessarily looking at it, head coach Wilfried Nancy said before Wednesday's CCC semifinal Leg 1 against CF Monterrey at Field (8:15 pm ET | FS1, TUDN) – even after Rayados already eliminated FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami CF in the competition.

"This is not a test for my team," Nancy said. "This is an opportunity to get better again and to keep doing what we do against a different style of play. There is no test with my team. The only challenge that they have is to be better than they did before.

"Last year we played [Club América] but at home, and this year we played Tigres but away," Nancy added. "Every time that you do something, you repeat some good habits. So now they are ready to compete. So for me, this is the most important. Club América, Tigres, semifinal, the idea is to go as far as possible and to embrace this challenge."

The Crew punched their semifinal ticket via a quarterfinal upset of another Liga MX power in Tigres UANL. They completed a historic result along the way, winning in penalty kicks at Estadio Universitario after the series finished in a 2-2 aggregate draw.

The Crew are looking to become just the second MLS club to win the modern version of the continental tournament, with Seattle Sounders FC the first in 2022. Accomplish that and they'd book a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup.

"It's a pleasure. Like I said before, we don't have a normal life," Nancy said. "And tomorrow, I told them today and also in the past, I want them to just enjoy these moments. I know that they want to compete, I know that they want to win the game. I know that they want to do well.

"But for me, the most important is to enjoy the situation," Nancy noted. "We’re going to play in front of our fans and it's going to be really important that they're going to push for us. I know that this is not a medals game, but this is a really important game, not for us, but for the culture."

Getting the series off to a positive start in Leg 1 will be key, defender Malte Amundsen said. Columbus and Monterrey meet again on May 1 (Leg 2) at Estadio BBVA with a spot in the June 2 CCC final on the line.

"I think we've shown in the past period now, no matter what happens in the games, we are going to do everything for this club and for these fans and for ourselves ultimately," Amundsen said. "We enjoy the fans, we love rolling into the game seeing all the fans there. Really trying not to take that for granted because the fans are so important for us."