Following the 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night, Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter took responsibility for the result and said the entire club needs to improve moving forward.
“Yeah, not good enough,” Porter said during his post-match opening statement. “We could argue, obviously, that the margins were slim. Obviously, we missed two breakaways – those have to be goals. You’re not going to get better chances than that. I know everyone talks about chance creation. Well, there you go: those are two of the best chances you’re ever going to get in the game. We score those (and) the game is different.
“But I would also say, overall [it was] just not good enough across the board. I’ll take the blame. I’ll take the responsibility. That’s what coaches do. I get it. Obviously, we’re not getting results and the finger is going to be pointed at me. Keep pointing it at me, I have to correct it, I have to sort it out and we’re now in a tough situation.”
With Wednesday night’s defeat, the Crew is riding a five-game losing streak and currently sits outside of an MLS Cup Playoffs spot. There’s still plenty of time to regain momentum, of course, but it’s a tough reality for a club trying to win a second straight MLS Cup.
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After conceding to New York in the 33rd minute, when John Tolkin scored his first MLS goal, the Crew recovered and started taking control of the match. Once trying to play through the Red Bulls high press, the visitors soon found themselves in front of the New York goal trying to pry through the New York backline. It happened, but it didn’t lead to any goals.
Gyasi Zardes had a one-on-one in the 45th minute, but his shot was aimed directly at Carlos Coronel. After the play, Zardes hobbled to the ground and left the match with a hamstring injury.
In the second half, Kevin Molino nearly produced the equalizer in the 47th minute, but his effort was saved. In the 76th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips nearly scored against his old club, too, but was denied by Coronel.
The Crew’s last opportunity arrived in stoppage time when Derrick Etienne Jr. played a cross into the box toward Erik Hurtado. The forward, in an effort to score, bodied Tolkin toward the ball, who then put it into his own net. The goal was disallowed.
And so, the player who scored for the Red Bulls, then scored against his team, only for it to be waived off. The teenager became the match hero while the reigning champs suffered another setback.
“I don’t know what the expected goals on those is, but it’s got to be 50%,” Porter said of the attacking opportunities. “You’re never going to get a better chance than those two that we got. We talk until we’re blue in the face about how we need to do this better and that better, cross here and get numbers here, analyze this and that – at the end of the day, when you get chances like that at this level, they have to be goals. It’s not me saying anything that anybody doesn’t know, but yeah, we should’ve scored two goals at a minimum [and] we had others too. I am pleased that we had more chances in the game, but if I’m honest, it wasn’t good enough today.”
The Black & Gold now turn their attention toward Saturday night’s MLS Cup Final rematch against Seattle Sounders FC. When the clubs last met, Columbus won, 3-0, at Historic Crew Stadium. But since then, the teams have trended in different directions.
Seattle enters the matchup leading the Western Conference with 39 points from 20 matches. The Crew is eighth in the Eastern Conference with 24 points from as many games.
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET.