Caleb Porter turned his head and walked back toward the bench. His look said the words his mouth didn’t have to murmur:
“How did that not go in?”
Alexandru Matan’s back-post shot was just parried wide by a diving Bobby Shuttlesworth, and as the ball recycled back into the box, Bradley Wright-Phillips guided it toward the goal – and off the back post.
The Columbus Crew, who continue looking for ways to snap a four-match winless streak, will need to keep looking, following Sunday night’s 1-0 loss to Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field.
In a match where the Crew deserved at least a point, they didn’t receive any, and finished the game with a fourth straight loss.
“I’m just a bit gutted for the team because I thought they deserved a result today based on how hard they fought and some of the improvements that we made,” Porter said in his post-match interview. “(It) looked like it was going to be a draw. With a bit of luck, maybe we find a goal to win it. Never thought we’d lose the game, so that’s why we’re disappointed. It’s definitely a game we can build off of from a defensive standpoint, mentality standpoint and build-up standpoint, but we have to get that final third going.”
WATCH | Caleb Porter following Sunday's match at Chicago Fire FC
The Crew nearly opened the scoring early in the first half when a long-range Darlington Nagbe shot curved toward the back post, only to whiz a few inches wide of the target.
Playing compact defensively, the Club prevented the Fire from creating attacking sparks. Truthfully, it was a match that seemed destined for a draw until a literal lucky bounce in the 77th minute left the ball at Luka Stojanovic’s feet, and he sent the ball past Eloy Room.
“They didn’t have many chances at all, the goal I thought was bit unlucky, it’s kind of a bang-bang, deflection, very opportunistic on their part,” Porter said. “I thought we started the match really well, I thought our mentality was really good, we kept the ball well – lots of improvement. And that’s why I’m disappointed that we didn’t at the very least a point out of the game. I thought the guys deserved that, [a] bit unlucky at the end to hit the post. I want to look at the play on (Jonathan Mensah) as well, seems like those are things that again we’re not getting.”
Overall, the Crew grew from Sunday night’s match, albeit with another frustrating final score. Columbus held possession during large portions of the game and looked comfortable, but just couldn’t capitalize on the attacking opportunities the visitors created.
Hopefully those chances will lead to goals as early as Wednesday, when the Black & Gold play against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. While this is the Crew’s second trip to the venue in 2021, it’s their first match against RBNY this season. Previously, two late free-kicks from Lucas Zelarayan earned Columbus a 2-1 win over New York City FC inside the arena.
“The margins are very slim in these road games,” Porter said. “We have to turn around and go again two days later. I think that’s the key – we have to keep going and build off the good defensive things that we improved on – the start of the game - and work on that final third. We need to improve in that aspect.”
Kickoff on Wednesday is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.