REACTION: Crew responds with 2-0 victory over Houston
The season isn't over yet.
Four days after a demoralizing 1-0 loss to a 10-man Seattle Sounders FC side at home and just two days following Brian Bliss' first training session as Interim Head Coach, the Crew responded on Wednesday night by beating its Eastern Conference rival Houston Dynamo, 2-0, at Crew Stadium. Rookie Ryan Finley and Justin Meram each scored their first goals of the season to mark the first victory with Bliss at the helm.
With the win, the Crew is just five points out of a playoff position with seven matches left in 2013.
"I think Blissy, with the two days he had, I thought he and [Assistant Coach Mike Lapper] did a great job of preparing us with the short amount of time," Finley said after the match. "Obviously the guys took some ownership. You can't put all the blame on the coaches; it's on us too. I think we came out and responded tonight."
Added veteran defender Chad Marshall: "I think obviously when there's a new coach, guys who maybe felt like they were in the doghouse have a new lease on life and are excited for the opportunity. I think there was a different energy tonight and it carried us through to three points."
Bliss was proud of how his team reacted to the adversity it faced earlier in the week, and feels the win puts the Crew back on track heading into the final seven matches of the season. The outlook could have been much different following a loss.
"It's an uphill battle, especially when the first one is at home," the Interim Head Coach said. "The confidence will go down [if we lose], the heads will go down. Now we have something to build on and there's a little life left in them. I think we've pumped them up a little bit."
Bliss was particularly impressed with the play of Marshall, who helped anchor the Crew backline to the shutout. He went out of his way during his post-match press conference to acknowledge the centerback.
"By the way, Chad Marshall: if [Jürgen] Klinsmann is listening, I'll put Chad up against any of the centerbacks on the National Team - I'll tell you right now with that kind of performance," Bliss said of the two-time MLS Defender of the Year.
"Now Chad's got to bring it like that week-to-week, but I'll tell you right now: those guys in the back don't have much on Chad if Chad plays like he does."
Upon hearing the praise, the always-humble Marshall simply responded: "That's nice to hear."
The Crew returns to play on Saturday, when it will face Sporting Kansas City on the road (8:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio).