Another week and another poor road performance. Columbus Crew SC is now a paltry 0-3-2 on the road and have picked up only two of 15 points in their five road games this year. Why does Crew SC's offense sputter on the road? Why are they consistently inconsistent?
It could be because Columbus has had a significantly easier home schedule, while the team has faced a more difficult slate away from MAPFRE Stadium. When Columbus has gone on the road, they've played teams that have averaged 1.63 points per game this season, a group that includes Eastern Conference leading D.C. United and second place New England Revolution and Western Conference second place holders Vancouver Whitecaps.
The opponents Columbus has hosted is a much lesser bunch on average. The Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls have opened the season strong, but Orlando City and the Philadelphia Union have struggled significantly at home and on the road.
Looking past opponents points per game, the team has struggled with consistency in front of goal. They score more than two goals a game less on the road than at home. Most of that difference is on offense. The defense leaks 1.4 goals a game on the road while only giving up a goal per at MAPFRE.
The offense on the other hand is a different story. Columbus scores a robust 2.4 goals a game at home. An average that is well beyond league leading Seattle's 1.7 goals a game this season. On the road, that average is .4, well below New York City FC's anemic offensive average of .82 GPG.
The average amount of shots drop (17.6 at home and 12.8 on the road) while average amount of passes drops as well, 474 to 418. The way Columbus appears to play also changes when home compared to away. Some of this is attributable to game states, whether the team is ahead, behind, or tied. Also Crew SC has been up a man in two games this year and down in the recent game in San Jose.
This is a limited sample size, Crew SC are only 10 games into this season and have played five at home and five away. It's also a cursory look at the numbers, but the pattern that emerges is that Black and Gold are doing well to beat weaker teams while struggling with some of the better squads in MLS, a convincing win against Seattle aside.
With the Chicago Fire coming into town tomorrow, it would appear that Columbus is well situated to handle a team still struggling early in the MLS season with a 1.11 points per game average. Three points by Crew SC would reaffirm their strength at home, but it would also be over another team further down the standings. The real tests will come this summer as the New England Revolution come to MAPFRE in June and New York Red Bulls arrive in July.