Columbus Crew one step from Champions Cup final: "It's all about details"

24-CCC_Thumb_Diego Rossi_Monterrey

One of the biggest games in Columbus Crew history awaits Wednesday night, heading to CF Monterrey for Leg 2 of their Concacaf Champions Cup semifinal series (10:15 pm ET | FS1, TUDN).

The 2023 MLS Cup champions hold a 2-1 aggregate lead after goals from Cucho Hernández and Jacen Russell-Rowe paced last week’s Leg 1 victory at home.

However, after Maxi Meza snagged an all-crucial away goal, the Crew are hardly assured of a spot in the June 2 final vs. Pachuca. There’s still a job to do at Estadio BBVA, and a massive one at that.

“This is a 50-50 game,” Columbus head coach Wilfried Nancy said in his Matchday-1 press conference from Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

“We play for the final and at this level, it's all about details. This is not about how we're going to play, what we're going to do. It's details and also the mental aspect. We know what we have to do and also what they have to do."

The good news? Columbus have already vanquished one Liga MX powerhouse in CCC, overcoming Tigres UANL in penalty kicks after a 2-2 aggregate tie. In Leagues Cup last year, the Crew also stormed to a 4-1 win over Club América.

From moments like those, Crew captain Darlington Nagbe sees a team unfazed by what’s ahead.

“When you play against top opponents, you always grow,” Nagbe said. “I think the team has grown from every game that we've had against the teams here from Mexico. I expect that [Wednesday]. The result will be the result, but I expect the team to be confident, perform well and grow from this game as well.”

Eliminating Monterrey is far easier said than done, of course. They’re five-time CCC champions and have already sent FC Cincinnati (Round of 16) and Inter Miami CF (quarterfinals) packing in this year’s competition, finding another gear in Leg 2 of those series.

Yet, history can be a powerful motivator. If the Crew stop Rayados, they’ll become the seventh-ever MLS side to reach a CCC final. And, at risk of dreaming too big, a triumph in next month’s final books a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup that’s hosted across the United States.

The stakes are massive, and the Crew embrace everything they entail.

“The privilege to play this kind of game, this is something we like,” Nancy said. “My players are really excited by that and everybody is behind us to try to win this game. This is all positive and I love it.”