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Have Columbus Crew SC Learned their Lesson on Closing Out Games?

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A late game letdown finally hurt Crew SC last Friday night. Has the team learned from this?

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night's 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire wasn't the first Columbus Crew SC had trouble closing out a game, it was just the first time it cost them three points.

Despite dominated a 10-man Orlando City team in mid-April, Crew SC players were slightly disappointed they did not get more than three goals in the match. After leading the Philadelphia Union 3-0 at halftime a week later, Columbus allowed Philly back in the match by not going for the jugular immediately following halftime. Two weeks ago against the Seattle Sounders, Columbus was content with a 3-1 lead that quickly became 3-2 and nearly 3-3 before the conclusion.

Against the Fire, a two-goal lead may have seemed safe, but ultimately was not.

Forward Kei Kamara gave the Black and Gold a 1-0 advantage just eight minutes into the match, but Crew SC couldn't double the lead, despite several first half chances.

When Columbus finally scored again, another Kamara finish in the 55th minute, they were not disciplined enough to make it standup, allowing Chicago to strike back three minutes later.

"Those goals should have been three-point goals, " Kamara said after the match.

"The plan was to go up and get another goal, then get another goal after that. It didn't work so well and we got some funky goals that they scored and we just let those two points slide away from us."

It wasn't the first time this season the Black and Gold have struggled in the final 45 minutes. Crew SC allowed two second half goals to the New York Red Bulls in a 2-1 loss earlier this year and came out flat down a man after halftime in San Jose two weeks ago.

Friday was the first time all season Columbus had the lead, but allowed took their foot off the gas and it cost them.

"If I'm disappointed in one thing with this group it's that we didn't score the third goal," head coach Gregg Berhalter said. "Because it was there. It was there for the taking and we didn't get it done."

The disappointing finish to the game is behind them, but the memory is not. While Berhalter wants his team to move on and focus on what's ahead, he thinks his side can learn from these mistakes in order to not repeat them.

"I think it's a good lesson that until the whistle blows, you have to keep playing," the head coach said Tuesay. "One thing I'd say about MLS, there's no shortage of stoppage time goals. For us, as far as I'm concerned it was a good lesson in being smarter and finishing the game in a better way."

An international friendly on Wednesday against Valencia won't give many more lessons on closing out a match but will allow for more practice in execution against a real opponent. The next test comes Saturday at Orlando. Despite a convincing result at home against the Lions, Crew SC will have to play for a full 90 minutes on the road, a place where they have yet to earn a victory this season.

Have the Columbus players finally learned their lesson? Only Saturday night will tell.