Columbus Crew SC faces D.C. United in the MLS Cup playoffs

Brenner scores 3 to beat D.C United, putting Cincinnati in MLS playoffs for first time

Columbus Crew SC will enter Wednesday’s matchup with D.C. United as the favorite for MLS Cup, but have to deal with the burden of playing the top team in the Eastern Conference.

That burden is a reality for the Crew.

Brenner’s second-half header in a 1-1 draw at Orlando, combined with a second-half equalizer from the same player in a 2-2 draw at Montreal, gave the Crew a spot in the postseason after their first two-game sweep of the season.

The Columbus native scored with his head, the first of his eight goals since joining the organization last year, against D.C. in October and a year later scored in a 2-0 win over Columbus in a MLS Cup playoff opener.

“I was more disappointed than anything else,” said Brenner, who received a bit of revenge earlier in the season on Wednesday night when his assist put him in the right place at the right time in a 1-0 triumph over Toronto FC. “Sometimes a defender gets to open up in one of the corner kicks and you don’t get a chance to finish. It’s a little disappointing to get a PK from the corner. I was hoping for a clear one. But, it happens, you learn from it and move on in the second half.”

That was the case for Columbus, who went out of the playoffs last season because they couldn’t overcome the loss at Real Salt Lake. Though they had a shot at back-to-back MLS Cups with a win at New England in February of 2012 and a draw at Sporting Kansas City the following month, it was not to be.

“I think this is probably a different experience for us. We’ve seen that,” Crew SC head coach Robert Warzycha said after the club’s 2-1 victory at Montreal. “We’ve seen teams who are playoff bound and teams that are playoff-or-bust. We’ve seen teams that look like they’re on a roll and teams who don’t have a clue where to go from there.

“These are the two teams who I think can compete with the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.”

Columbus will enter the playoffs as the second seed in the East, just one game behind Toronto FC. Warzycha said that with the momentum they’ve taken into the playoffs,

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