Josh Mlot - Home Stand, July 13th - July 23rd
For me, there was a sense very quickly — inside the first month of the season — that something was wrong. Not that results were just going the wrong way, but that something had taken a turn for the worse from a year ago. With that said, it's a long season and whatever's true one day is almost certainly untrue the next in MLS. I think when the gut feeling kicked in was in July. Yes, Crew SC was in the middle 10-game winless streak, but it was during those July games — a stretch of home games against beatable teams — that I just got a sense that this team wasn't going to snap out of it's already seemingly endless funk. Three straight draws at MAPFRE, including with D.C. United and Orlando City, was followed two weeks later with a 3-3 home draw with New York City FC. That was a game Columbus led 2-1 and NYC scored twice inside the final six minutes or so to steal a point. There were a lot of downs this season, but that point in the year, as July transitioned into August, is when I think I internally stopped expecting the club to scrape into the postseason.
Patrick Guldan - Home Stand, July 13th - July 23rd
I'd had my doubts all season. Even before the blowup, trade, injuries, and the like, this team never looked right. In the first couple games that this team had more than a post MLS Cup hangover.
“the third season is fatal”?— Patrick Guldan (@GuldanMR) March 19, 2016
However, this being MLS, there was plenty of time for Crew SC to get back into the playoff race and a home stand against Toronto FC, D.C. United, and Orlando City would be the perfect way to jump back in. Toronto would play a reserve heavy side. Columbus jumped to a lead, but gave it up 10 minutes later and end with a 1-1 tie. Four days later Crew SC would get the lead, but they'd give up a late goal to drop more points against D.C. United. They'd get two goals against Orlando a week later, but then give them both back. Leads given up in all three games.
Crew SC would stick around the playoff hunt for two months, but never mounted an effective charge.
Nathanial Marhefka - June 25th
When did I have a suspicion?
Mid-April. just five matches into the season. At this point the team only scored 3 goals in five games as the offense was already showing it had a myriad of issues. My reasoning was that despite the defense being decent I doubted its sustainability and that without a cohesive offense the team was going to struggle to win games. Of course this early in the season I was called a buffoon for thinking this of the MLS Cup runner-ups; but the problems were clear.
When did I feel certain Crew was out of the playoffs?
Mid-June. By the middle of June the Crew were failing to win games despite the offense picking up. A large part of this came from the passivity if the team’s approach. Being midway into the season, I severely doubted Berhalter’s will to win games (and not play out a draw). There were many goals conceded in the final 15 minutes of matches this year and I think the team’s passive nature aided to this -- and with it, I gave up hope.
Past 3 seasons the lowest ppg threshold for a playoff spot was 1.44. Last season, only 2 teams overcame that after 15 games. Crew now @ 1.07— Nathaniel Marhefka (@GloryToColumbus) June 26, 2016
Sam Fahmi - March 6th
You could say, it was when Kei and Pipa embarrass themselves in front of the home crowd you can say it was the multitude of missed opportunities to put teams away through the season. I say, I had a bad feeling about this season when Ethan Finlay missed an empty netter against Portland. I'm not blaming Ethan for this. Just that right at that moment, something didn't feel right about how 2016 was going to go. I was hoping to be ultimately wrong. I was really hoping that they will figure it out and rally later in the season. Alas, they couldn't overcome their own mistakes.
In a system of "I don't care how many the other team scores because I plan on scoring more" you can not afford to make mistakes. Crew SC missed a lot of opportunities this season. Too many 1-0 and 2-1 losses that could have been tied or wins. Too many multiple goal leads that were handed away in heartbreaking manner at the end of games. Losing to teams we had no business losing to throughout the year.
Sometimes you just get that awful gut feeling. This time it was during the first game of the season.
Andrew Todd-Smith - August 24th
Columbus Crew SC dropped a Wednesday home game to the Philadelphia Union back on August 24. Coming off their first road victory of the year the preceding Saturday (OK, that admittedly doesn't scream "playoff team" if a road win takes almost five months to happen, but I digress), Crew SC was unable to convert positive, locker-room-bolstering momentum into a decisive showing versus Philly. They controlled the game and still looked lost and out of sorts when it started to get away from them. The team looked psychologically out of answers that night, despite observably and consistently putting in hard work at practice. That Union match was indicative of the absence of a coalescing attack, one that just couldn't find the flourish to finish chances even when they did present themselves. Columbus essentially needed the benefit of a bad call on what wasn't really an Adam Jahn goal to even get on the board. Given the complete susceptibility of the defense to crumble at inopportune times and the failure of the offense to bail said defense out, I suspected at that point there would be no push above the red line for the Black & Gold.
Patrick Murphy - October 13th
Maybe it's the amount of time I spent around the players and the staff this year, but I was a believer of it wasn't over until it's over. This team proved over the last two years that it can make late season runs and the Eastern Conference continued to provide Crew SC with opportunities to make the MLS Cup Playoffs. While the play on the field rarely looked like a playoff-caliber team, there was always a chance in my mind that they could flip a switch and get in gear. Obviously that did not happen.
Matt Weisgarber - July 31st
After the July 31 game against Toronto. Columbus crew SC lost that game 0-3. It followed a winless stretch against Philadelphia, Montreal, New York Red Bull's, Chicago, Kansas City, New England, Toronto, DC, Orlando, and Toronto again. It became clear to me then that this team didn't have the ability to compete with the teams above them. Even though it was early in the season I hadn't seen much to make be believe they could turn it around enough to jump into 6th place.
Part of the concern was the losses didn't feel flukey any more. Defensive lapses and predictable attacking had creeped into the third year of Berhalter's reign and it seemed like a quick fix wasn't going to happen.
J. Daniel Rollins - May 10th
Hearing Columbus is trying to trade Kei Kamara pre-deadline, but it's hard to move DPs since so many teams have the maximum 3 DPs already.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) May 10, 2016