Crew Coverage

Crew Coverage pres. by Medical Mutual | Ampadu: Crew show ‘togetherness’ at Charlotte FC

For the Columbus Crew, Saturday night’s loss at Charlotte FC won’t be remember for the final score, but for the club’s adversity and real-time problem-solving skills. That might not lead to points in the Eastern Conference standings, but this growth in March should serve the team well September through – hopefully – December. 

So, here’s what happened. Before kickoff, it was revealed that head coach Wilfried Nancy would miss the match with an illness. His assistant coaches would manage Saturday by committee. 

But by the 26th minute, the Crew had already made two substitutions because of injuries. One of the incoming players, Derrick Jones, was on the field eight minutes before a VAR incident led to him being sent off.

Yet despite being down to 10 men having used two subs, Columbus continued playing its style while also showing it can defend compactly. 

“Disappointed obviously with the result, but what the team showed was a real togetherness,” assistant coach Kwame Ampadu said after the match. “Down to 10 men, they showed real bravery with the ball to continue to try to play our game. 

“We maybe just couldn't install as high up pitches as we wanted to, but we tried to play. We really tried to play. I believe we had [53.6] percent of the possession playing against a strong team so we have that to fall back on moving forward.”

The Black & Gold continued causing problems and thought they had the game’s first goal 11 minutes into first-half stoppage time, but Cucho Hernández’s first-time strike was disallowed after a VAR decision. 

In the second half, they continue searching for a positive result on the road. 

“Of course, we’re down a man so that's an option less on the pitch,” Ampadu said. “We tried to stay as close to our structure as possible, and I think we did that. We kept the ball in the second half. We probably couldn't install as much as we wanted into getting into their half, but we were brave and we tried to play.”

Eventually, Charlotte, playing with a man advantage, found the breakthrough, adding a goal in the 83rd minute. The second arrived five minutes later. 

The opening goal was the first time the Crew have trailed at any point in 2024 – across MLS and Concacaf Champions Cup competitions. the Black & Gold sustained 442 consecutive minutes without facing a deficit, the team’s second-longest such streak to begin a season (598 minutes in 2020). Including Concacaf Champions Cup, the Club hadn’t trailed in 622 consecutive minutes this year.

As Nancy always says, each game is another learning lesson to draw experience from. Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Charlotte FC revealed that when adversity arrived, the side played through it without complaining or distractions. 

“Everyone knows us for how well we play and possess the ball, how pretty we play, captain Darlington Nagbe said. “For a good amount of the game, we showed a different side to us, buckle down, defend and play a different type of way. We tried to get a result but almost there, not a complete game but some good things to take away from it.”

The Crew remain on the road next Saturday when they face Nashville SC before returning to Columbus on Apr. 2 to host Liga MX side Tigres UANL at Field in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals.

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