After seeing its unbeaten streak snapped at the hands of Atlanta United on June 13th, Columbus Crew SC used the abbreviated World Cup break to get its collective mind right. The Black & Gold looked to turn its fortune around as it made the journey to the West Coast for an inaugural meeting with Los Angeles Football Club.
Even though Crew SC were physically present on the field, mentally it might have been another story. In the fourth minute a Columbus foul just outside the box allowed an early free kick opportunity to LA Football Club.
Defender Laurent Ciman, just back from World Cup duty with Belgium, stepped up to take the free kick. Crew SC goalkeeper Jon Kempin countered by organizing his three-man wall in front of goal. The wall didn’t provide enough protection as the velocity from Ciman’s shot allowed the ball to dance around the wall. Ciman’s shot dipped just before reaching Jon Kempin’s goal, beating the outstretched keeper to his left.
Crew SC’s struggles continued just four minutes later as some poor defending allowed LAFC an opportunity to extend its lead. Latif Blessing, Benny Feilhaber, and Lee Nguyen combined for a great passing sequence that found Adama Diomande onside and one-on-one with Kempin. Diomande converted the easy opportunity and extending the LA Football Club lead to 2-0.
The hosts almost extended their advantage when Lee Nguyen found Diomande with a free kick, but the forward put his header just wide of the Crew SC goal. Columbus began to put things together in the 27th minute, Luis Argudo found Pedro Santos on a great cross, but the designated player put the ball right at Tyler Miller and the attack wouldn’t yield any results for the Black & Gold. Things wouldn’t get much better for Crew SC, as they struggled to get anything going offensively.
LA Football Club desperately searched for the third goal, turning up the pressure on Columbus. Jon Kempin did his best late to keep the Black & Gold in it, turning away consecutive shots at point blank range in the 85th minute. However, the damage had been done as Crew SC couldn’t recover from the rough start and lose to LAFC by a 2-0 margin.
The start to the match was absolutely deflating for fans and players alike. With Crew SC in the thick of a heated playoff race in the East, the Black & Gold hoped to get the second half of the season off to a better start. Let’s hope this was a fluke and not the start of a disturbing trend during the second half of the campaign.
The Columbus Crew SC attack has been a two man show this year and Gyasi Zardes Federico Higuain weren’t able to create much and the rest of the attack looked weak on Saturday night. With the summer transfer window looming, head coach Gregg Berhalter might want to look at bolstering his attack to alleviate pressure from Zardes and Higuain. LA Football Club and Bob Bradley drew up a great blueprint to stifle the Crew SC offense. Let’s hope other clubs don’t take notice.
The Crew SC slide continues. They are winless for the month of June now and have one last chance at three points before the calendar flips. The Black & Gold return home for another contest against a Western Conference team as Real Salt Lake make its way to MAPFRE Stadium on June 30th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.