For what felt like the hundredth time this season, Columbus Crew SC players and coaches labeled Wednesday’s night game at D.C. United as a must win. With just five games to play, the Black & Gold sat five points back and needed to take advantage of each of the remaining matches.
For the 12th time this season, it was not enough as Crew SC suffered a 3-0 road defeat that all but eliminated any chance for a third-straight postseason appearance.
It was a very solid performance in the first half for Columbus. The Black & Gold dominated the ball and created plenty, but weren’t able to find the one chance to take an early lead.
United almost made Crew SC pay in the 31st minute. Winger Lloyd Sam sent a dangerous cross to Patrick Mullins, but the forward’s effort was denied by the quick reactions of Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Coming out of the locker room, the result already seemed inevitable. D.C. has spent the season getting results due to second half performances and the Black & Gold have sat near the bottom of the table because of an inability to win in the final 45 minutes.
Before the Black & Red began the onslaught, Wil Trapp had the best chance of the night for Crew SC. The midfielder, playing for the first time in four matches after suffering a concussion on Aug. 27, direct a Mohammed Saeid free kick towards goal that went just wide of Bill Hamid’s net.
It was Sam who put United up in the 71st minute. Attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta picked out the winger making a run into the 18-yard box with a lofted pass. With his back to goal, Sam collected and faked one way on defender Corey Ashe before going the other direction and firing a shot by Clark.
In desperation mode, head coach Gregg Berhalter brought off Ashe, replacing him with forward Adam Jahn as Columbus looked for the equalizer.
Crew SC were not able to do much with the numbers in attack, but were left vulnerable on the counter. In the 86th minute, second half substitute Lamar Neagle finished off the fast break before another change, Álvaro Saborio, concluded the affair in the 90th minute.
With this loss, the Black & Gold fall eight points out of the final MLS Cup Playoff spot with four matches to play. It will be another quick turnaround for Columbus, who return home to host the Chicago Fire, the only team below them in the standings, on Saturday night.