Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter said he would use Sunday night’s disappointing 1-0 loss as a learning lesson for his team moving forward.
After playing their sixth match in 19 days, a late goal from Adam Buska denied Columbus a road point and sent the Black & Gold home with five points through their first five league games.
An even match throughout, it was clear The Crew suffered from a saturated schedule, a lack of recovery time between games, and key players dealing with nagging injuries.
“I think these are all factors to us at times looking a little disjointed and not as fluid as we want,” Porter said after the game. “But I really liked the mentality today, I liked the personality perspective. I felt like we were going to get a point, I felt like we deserved the point with a little more luck here or there on the other end, maybe if we hit a final ball.
“We had a couple of really good moments where if we get the final ball right it’s a goal. They didn’t have a ton of [scoring] looks, I didn’t think they had a ton of control, I didn’t think they were far and away better than us; it was a pretty even game.”
A stunning save from Eloy Room denied New England from taking the lead in the 32nd minute. After Carlos Gil found open space inside The Crew box, his effort was parried by Room off the post. The goalkeeper then safely handled the rebound, which went directly into his arms.
The Crew hit the post themselves in the 62nd minute when Artur unleashed a powerful shot that smashed the back post and recoiled back into play.
That was the best chance for either team to take the lead before Buksa scored the game-winner in the 86th minute.
“I’m confident we can build on this, we’ll keep growing, and we’re going to stay focused on the process and improving,” Porter said. “It’s a 34-game season and this is our fifth game. We know we need to pick up some wins on the road – I’m confident we will – but I’m excited to keep improving and to have a full week to train for New York City [FC] and then another full week before [facing] Toronto. We’re going to keep getting better, there’s no doubt about that, and I hope we get healthier as well because that will help.”
Center back Josh Williams agreed with his coach’s assessment of the match and the condensed schedule, but said he’d like to see more intensity from The Crew to at least earn a point from a difficult road test.
“I think that Caleb [Porter] is right,” Williams said. “I think that some of that has to do with the condensed schedule that we have, but also there are guys that step in, and this is their moment – this is their moment to kind of bring that level of intensity.
“We need, as a group, to look at ourselves in the mirror and we have to be able to bring that, whether it’s the sixth game in however many days or not. There has to be a level of intensity that we need to reach, and I don’t think we had it tonight.”