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Changes Are Needed and Promised for Columbus Crew SC

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Gregg Berhalter sees the need for changes to his side after a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of Orlando City.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

"It wasn't our best performance."

Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark had the understatement of the night after the Black & Gold were handed a 5-2 defeat at Orlando City SC on Saturday evening.

It was easily one of the poorest performances of the season for Crew SC and one of the worst outcomes in a long while.

Columbus hadn't allowed five goals since August 27, 2011 in a 6-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders. The Black & Gold have now conceded eight goals in the last three halves of soccer after allowing Toronto F.C. to come from 3-0 down in the second half and earn a draw a week ago.

"I felt like we rolled over and we made it easy for Orlando," head coach Gregg Berhalter told the gathered media after the loss. "That's not the type of team we pride ourselves on being and tonight we were an easy opponent to beat."

It's no secret that the issue lies on the defensive side of the ball. Despite looking rather flat against Orlando, the Crew SC offense is scoring in bunches with 36 goals in 23 games. Yet the team has allowed 38 goals and kept only four clean sheets all season.

So what is next for Berhalter and his men?

"I think that there needs to be some changes, I honestly do," the head coach said. "I think that if we're not carrying our weight, we need to make changes. It's a pride thing, it's going out there and competing, and understanding how difficult it is to win games on the road and embracing that."

Berhalter has tinkered with the back line a lot this year. Right back has been a rotating door since the departure of Hernan Grana and Tyson Wahl has replaced Emanuel Pogatetz at times at center back, including the last four matches.

Fans hoped that the return of midfielder Wil Trapp would help things defensively. The 22-year old Homegrown product has started the last four games after missing 13 matches with concussion issues.

Trapp is naturally more defensive minded than his replacement Mohammed Saeid, and his ability to naturally drop into the back line was a crucial feature of the Black & Gold's success a year ago. But the results haven't changed much since Trapp's return - nine goals conceded in four matches.

Expectations were high coming into 2015 as many picked Crew SC as a favorite for MLS Cup. The Black & Gold are still in a good position to make that happen, currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, but if the defensive issues aren't solved, playoffs may not be something Columbus is a part of come the year's end.

Crew SC remains on the road next weekend when they take on the Colorado Rapids Saturday night.

Berhalter has promised changes. Will they be personnel, tactical, or something internal? Only time will tell.