Leagues Cup

Crew Coverage | Nancy: ‘Decision making and execution’ lacking in Leagues Cup loss to MNUFC

On the cusp of advancing in the Leagues Cup on Friday night, the Columbus Crew allowed a late equalizer, then lost in the penalty shootout in a Round of 32 exit against Minnesota United FC at Lower.com Field.

After the match, head coach Wilfried Nancy said his players needed to be crisper to finish out the win that would’ve continued the Black & Gold’s campaign in the MLS-Liga MX competition. 

“Decision making. Decision making,” Nancy said. “We are behind 1-0, and after that, 2-1. 2-2 also, we have to better on that. After that, 3-2. We cannot concede a third goal to win games. At the end of the day at home, we have the possibility to score more goals, yes, but three is enough. The game has to be finished. 

“Again, after that, decision making. The first one, we knew that they are really good on also in terms of counterattack and transition so we conceded this goal. After that, the second one and the third one, no, we cannot concede like this if we want to go forward.”

The Loons took the lead in the 17th minute through a swift counter attack, but the Black & Gold responded with one of their one just before halftime to equalize the match. In the 42nd minute, Malte Amundsen won the ball and played it to Cucho on a breakaway. The Colombian then played a final pass to Amundsen, who produced his first Leagues Cup goal.

Alexandru Mățan gave Columbus the 2-1 lead in the 51st minute through a postage stamp strike that would beat any goalkeeper in the world. As the Crew came forward on an attack, Cucho found Darlington Nagbe atop the box. Nagbe offered a one-time backheel to Máțan, who smashed it into the top right corner in thunderous fashion.

The lead was short, however, as Bongokuhle Hlongwane produced his second goal three minutes later. 

But Columbus moved in front once again 82nd minute through a beautiful, brisk goal. Admundsen was involved in this one as well, as he played a scorching through ball through the Minnesota lines toward a sprinting Yaw Yeboah. The Ghanaian played the ball across goal and Christian Ramirez was there for his second Leagues Cup goal this week.

The Crew nearly added a fourth when Cucho knuckled a shot off the crossbar, but instead it was Minnesota who scored the match’s third equalizer in the 90th minute, which led to a penalty shootout. Columbus made its first three attempts, but then missed three. The visitors did the same, but only missed two. Their sixth attempt was converted, knocking the Crew out of the competition.

“There is decision making and execution. Sometimes you can have really good decision making but the execution is not good or the opposite,” Nancy said. “We had a lot of chances. We could have scored more goals, yes. Final third, we attacked the box well. After that, yes, this is the execution. The one over Chris(tian) in the first half, the first one, this is good decision making in terms of the running behind, but execution was missing on that one. Again, this is the life of the forward."

“Also, we have also at the end Kevin (Molino). There is a difference between decision making and execution. We attacked the box in a good way. We had opportunities to score more goals, but three is enough. It should be enough so that is why we have to better on that.”

With the Crew’s Leagues Cup campaign closed, the club won’t play another match until the MLS regular season resumes Aug. 20, when the Black & Gold will host FC Cincinnati in the Hell is Real Derby at Lower.com Field. Until then, Nancy said it’s vital his players mental and physically recover for the final 11 matches of the regular season. The time will also be used to integrate new players into the squad, such as Rudy Camacho, Julian Gressel and new Designated Player Diego Rossi.

“Now, the most important is to rest,” the coach said. “I'm going to give them days off because they need to stop thinking about football. The idea is when we come back, they know that yes, it's going to be 11 games to reach the first step, the playoffs. After that, can we ensure the playoff as soon as possible and to be able to go as far as possible. For the moment, it is rest, come back and work like we usually do but put more intensity and finish the job.”

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