Columbus Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy said his side needs to learn from Saturday’s draw with Atlanta United FC and move on as the postseason nears.
In a matchup between two clubs jostling to change playoff positions, Columbus scored first before an Atlanta stoppage-time equalizer leveled the match, 1-1, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Yeah, it's difficult because we did a top game,” Nancy said. “It was a really good game. Again, against one of the best teams in the league in terms of ways they play. It is not easy to play against them because they want to have the ball and they try to manipulate the opposition, but we did a really, really good game, and we had the opportunities to score more goals. Defensively, we were good.
Yes, they had a few opportunities, but again, if they didn't score, it's because we defended well. Offensively and defensively, it was a really high-level game, and we did what we needed to do. Again, this moment, we are learning the hard way. Can you use the word frustration and all kinds of words like this? But we have to learn from that. This is the hard way because I can tell you that it is difficult to accept that, knowing the good game that we did, but this is the way it is. You have to face that.”
Dubbed the MLS Player of the Month in September, Cucho Hernández continued his prolific scoring form 20 minutes into the second half when produced his team-leading 15 goal of the season.
The visitors worked the ball along the left side of the pitch before Aidan Morris played it into the path of Cucho, who fired the Crew in front.
From there, the Crew continued to defend well and maintain its clean sheet before a late free kick led to Miles Robinson tying the match in the 97th minute.
“This is something that we are missing, not because they don't want to do it; it’s because maybe we need to do certain things a little bit better to avoid losing points like this,” Nancy said of the late equalizer. “Listen, I know that. This is not the first time that it happened for me. When we dominate the game like this and we were close, it happened several times that we were close to finish the game and we didn't do it. Yeah, this is painful, but again, we are going to learn from that the hard way, but this is the way it is.”
Following the draw on Saturday night, the Columbus Crew now has a two-week wait before closing out the 2023 MLS regular season at Lower.com Field against CF Montréal. The Crew won the previous meeting in the matchup that pairs Nancy with his former club.
The Crew is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with 54 points with one match remaining. The Philadelphia Union sits third with 55 points, while the New England Revolution is fifth with 52 points – but has a game in hand.
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