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Columbus Crew SC Saying the Right Thing, but it's Not Reflected in Play

The Black & Gold knew what to expect from Montreal, but were unable to deal with it on the field.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

In the week leading up to Saturday night's Columbus Crew SC 3-0 loss to the Montreal Impact, there were three main talking points at the Black & Gold's EAS Training Center.

One, Crew SC has a major issue for digging an early hole. Before this game, Columbus had conceded first in six consecutive matches and although the team won two of these contests with two draws, it was an issue head coach Gregg Berhalter discussed.

"I'm not so happy giving up the first goal, but we certainly responded well," he said last week.

"We need to take a good hard look at how we're conceding some of these goals and we need to improve on that. That's a work in progress."

The second thing was breaking down Montreal's compact defense, which, according to Berhalter, required quicker movement when attacking.

"What I think has to happen is, I said this last time, everything needs to be quicker," he said in the build up to the match. "We can play slow, but when we're ready for the action, it has to be at high speed otherwise you have no chance. So it's waiting for the moment and when that moment comes, it's done at absolute maximum speed."

The third take for the match was containing some of the Impact's impact players when the team comes on the counter.

"Knowing where a guy like Piatti is [is important,]" Berhalter told reporters last week. "And Donadel did a great job last time getting him the ball. So it's identifying some of those pieces. And if Oduro plays, we know he's got the pace to stretch the back line, so we're going to have to be aware of that."

None of those boxes could be checked when looking back at this game with Montreal.

Once again, Crew SC fell behind early. The Black & Gold had come back to earn at least a point in each of its last four games, but this time Columbus dug a bigger hole, allowing two goals in the opening eight minutes.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," midfielder Ethan Finlay said after the match. "With the first one five minutes in, we just could not recover from it. The second one was a great strike and we struggled to overcome it."

After conceding two goals early, the Impact was able to sit back, the way they like to play.

Berhalter's men were unable to breakdown Montreal's defensive line, hitting eight of the team's 15 shots from outside the 18-yard box. The movement once again needed to be faster in order to get in behind the defense, with no shots coming from inside the six-yard box.

"I think there were some decent moves, but overall it wasn't fluid enough," Berhalter stated post match. "It's not who we are attacking-wise. Everything is a lot more precise and accurate. Today we did not have that."

In terms of containing the Impact's key players, a quick look at the box score shows that was a fail. Dominic Oduro scored two goals, Marco Donadel scored a remarkable strike, and Ignacio Piatti registered an assist while controlling the Montreal midfield.

Heading into the match, the talk sounded good, but once things kicked off, it was quickly evident that Crew SC did not bring its A game.

"From us, it wasn't good and it wasn't an acceptable performance," Berhalter said. "We're clearly not happy with that performance."