“We were embarrassed on Friday.”
It was a game in which the Black & Gold tried to play an attacking 4-1-4-1 formation on the road against Major League Soccer’s best team. The team tried to push Toronto back and control the game while limiting transition opportunities.
It didn’t work.
Crew SC were down 1-0 within the opening six minutes after conceding a penalty kick on a play that should have been snuffed out in midfield. While there were periods of controlled possession, Columbus didn’t create enough offense, as the side didn’t register a single shot on goal.
“If I want to give any solace to the guys, I’ll take blame myself for that formation,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday. “Maybe it was too aggressive, maybe it was too -- however you want to call it, but we’ve learned.”
The 5-0 defeat is one of the poorest result in Crew SC history and certainly the worst under Berhalter. But the message to the team is that it’s still only one loss.
“No one’s proud of it,” Berhalter said. “It hurts your pride a little. You stand for a body of work and to lose 5-0 and to give up two goals when you’re up a man is a joke and guys aren’t happy with that. Their pride is hurt and I don’t blame them. But the fact is, if we would have played great and lost 1-0, you still get the same amount of points.
“This was the worst game that we’ve had, but the one thing I remember, it was Patrick Vieira after they lost 7-0 to Red Bull, his response was fantastic. He said that at the end of the day, it’s a loss. It’s one loss. If it’s 1-0 or 7-0, it’s still a loss.
“We’re not happy with our performance. Some guys may lose their spot in the lineup because of their performance. But we have a good team and we have to move on. We still have to believe in what we’re doing.”
And that is the focus this week.
“I look back to one of those games in 2015, the Orlando game, 5-2,” Trapp said. “After that game, we sat down, we had a meeting like we did today and we went on and pretty much were the best team in the league after that.”
Putting this game behind Crew SC started on Monday, but it should be officially be gone Wednesday when the Seattle Sounders come to town.
Despite being the defending MLS Cup champions, it’s been a rough start to 2017 for the Sounders who sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with 16 points. This match with Seattle marks a chance for Columbus to get things turned around and prove that Friday’s result was more of a fluke than anything else.
“It should make you angry,” Trapp said. “It should make you more competitive. It should embarrass you a little bit. Not even a little bit, a lot. Use that instead of feeling bad for yourself and the team, use that against this next team and unload on them.”
That desire to be better has been evident this week in training. After being embarrassed, the players looked themselves in the mirror and realized that it’s time to get things fixed. A good team can’t have players running free in the midfield or turnovers that lead directly to goals.
And the Black & Gold still believe they’re a good team.
After that 5-2 loss to Orlando City in August of 2015, Crew SC won five of its next seven games as it began the climb up the Eastern Conference and to hosting the MLS Cup Final.
It’s only late May and any thought of the playoffs is still a long way away, but the situations are similar. A team with talent, a team that once sat atop the East, is at a crossroads.
These players can either take that game and learn from it and fix the mistakes or continue to be embarrassed as they were in Toronto on Friday.
Two years ago, Crew SC took one path and it led the Black & Gold to a good place.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen,” Trapp said, “but it bodes well for us. There’s nowhere else to go but up.”
Wednesday is an opportunity to do that again.