Following the Hell is Real derby defeat on Saturday night, Columbus Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy said the loss was another opportunity for his team to learn from mistakes that should make the side better equipped moving forward.
The Black & Gold provided glimpses of a response in the 3-2 loss against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Now, they’ll need to do it in upcoming matches, too.
Twenty-three minutes into Saturday’s rivalry match, the visitors looked at a scoreboard that read FC Cincinnati 2, Columbus Crew 0. By the 52nd minute, the match was level and it looked like the Crew would not only come from behind, but had a very real chance to win the match. That level of response is what Nancy wants.
“Listen, this is our job to come back,” the coach told the media after the game. “Again, I really like the second half the way we played. As you know, Cincinnati, it’s not easy to play against them. Again, we saw really good things. We saw also a lot of things that we have to be better at, but this is not about tactic or technique. This is about try to be more present and believe in yourself. For me, again, the good example was the second half because they believe in them.”
The visitors produced their first goal in the 40th minute via a LuCucho connection. As Cucho Hernández dribbled into the box, he provided a cut back to Lucas Zelarayán, who scored his sixth goal of the young season.
On the other side of halftime, Malte Amundsen produced his second goal in as many matches when he finished a great Crew attack. After Mohamed Farsi played a cross into the area, Cucho’s initial shot was saved, but FCC goalkeeper Roman Celetano’s parry landed straight at the feet of the Danish defender to equalize the score.
“We try to have certain numbers inside the box when we attack and try to be balanced at the same time when we lose the ball,” Nancy said. “Again, this is the way we play.”
Cincinnati scored the eventual game winner 15 minutes later, however, when Columbus lost possession deep inside its territory. The Crew nearly found an equalizer late, but Celetano denied the visitors of another chance to equalize.
And so, Saturday’s match leaves mixed emotions. There’s the sting of losing to FCC, but the Black & Gold proved they’re good enough to claw back into a match against the Eastern Conference leaders. As captain Darlington Nagbe put it, the club just needs to produce a complete performance.
“I thought we had a good amount of play during the game, but there are a couple of moments [we need to improve],” Nagbe said. “We just got to figure it out and do it for 90 minutes.”
The Crew’s first chance to do so arrives Wednesday night when it plays at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Columbus is now in the tournament’s Round of 16, and should it advance at Highmark Stadium against a USL Championship side, there’s always a possibility of facing Cincinnati in the next round of the Open Cup.
“Now, we showed good stuff,” Nancy said of the Crew at FCC. “The idea is to step back, to look at the game and to correct again the mistakes that we have to correct and show also good stuff because as you know, this is not easy to play here, and we were really close to do something really, really good. We had also the action at the end where the goalkeeper from Cincinnati made a really good save.
“We were close. This is more how the game is a story. The story of the game, yeah, the result, this is not what we want, but we were down at certain moments and we were able to go up and we had the momentum. This is something that for me that is really good here.”
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