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Crew drop third straight in 1-0 loss to D.C. United

The Black & Gold drop consecutive home matches for the first time in nearly three years.

MLS: D.C. United at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

What went wrong for Columbus Crew SC in the 1-0 loss?

Posted by Massive Report on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Another chapter of the historic rivalry between Columbus Crew SC and D.C. United was written Wednesday night, as the Black and Red defeated the Black & Gold 1-0 to maintain their spot atop Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. This is the first time Columbus has lost consecutive home matches since the 2015-16 season (2015 MLS Cup Final and 2016 MLS season-opening match) and is D.C.’s first victory at MAPFRE Stadium since the 2007 season.

As most could’ve predicted going into the contest, it was a rather chippy matchup which boasted four yellow cards and a total of 21 fouls.

Coming off of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers, head coach Caleb Porter made just two changes to the side, replacing winger Robinho and centeral defender Gaston Sauro for Justin Meram and Josh Williams respectively. These were a bit tactical but also with an eye on another game on Saturday.

D.C. had the first quality chance of the game, with Lucas Rodriguez nearly finishing a close-range shot inside the first 10 minutes, which was saved easily by goalkeeper Zack Steffen. While Columbus came out on the front foot and had the edge in first half possession, they again were unable to turn their efforts into goals.

The Black & Gold had some quality opportunities in the opening 45 minutes. The first came from a low-driven shot from fullback Hector Jimenez which was nearly deflected off of a D.C. defender and past goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Twenty-one minutes later was a shot from Federico Higuain which was saved brilliantly by Hamid’s left hand after a nearly perfect through ball from winger Pedro Santos.

The visitors got on the scoresheet via a free-kick goal from captain Wayne Rooney. The initial foul came from a Williams tackle at the top of the 18-yard box on D.C.’s Paul Arriola. Rooney stepped up and buried the kick in the bottom right-hand corner, bending the ball around the near 11-man wall of players.

There was an obvious momentum shift after the lone goal in favor of United. The Black & Gold picked up their pace 15 minutes into the second half and repeatedly knocked on the door to see out the game. Their efforts were not enough to at least salvage a point. The Crew managed 44 crosses for the game with only six finding their target. Meanwhile, United had 53 clearances. A large number of those statistics coming in the second half when Columbus was looking for the tying goal.

Unfortunately for head coach Caleb Porter and the Crew, the team’s offensive woes continue onward. While the home side had a handful of opportunities from some of the best passing and chance-creating they’ve produced in a 90-minute period this season, they failed once again to translate their opportunities into numbers on the scoresheet.

When, if ever, will the goals come?

“It seems like the same old story,” Caleb Porter said in a FOX Sports interview to conclude the first half. Porter has consistently praised the team for at least getting the ball into good opportunities to produce goals, and they did so again on Wednesday.

Is the team going through an early-season offensive slump? Are they simply not good enough to produce goals like some of the elite attacking sides in Major League Soccer? Time will tell. However, after another offensive stalemate for Porter and the Crew, something will need to be adjusted as the team gets ready for their third matchup in a week’s time this Saturday.

Money well spent

An interesting sight was the differences between quality free-kick opportunities from each team. On D.C. United’s side, after Arriola went down in the first half, it was the combination of Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta to step up and decide who would take the chance at goal. It was Rooney who made the most out of his shot, curling it around the wall and in.

Late in the second half for Columbus after Pedro Santos went down, it was the duo of Federico Higuain and Hector Jimenez who stepped up. Higuain sailed his kick just over the crossbar.

The point is that a combination like Rooney and Acosta is one of the best that MLS has to offer. There are few teams in the league that offer a duo with similar qualities. Fortunately for D.C., Columbus is not one of them.

What’s next

Columbus doesn’t get much sleep until they have another game to worry about. They leave MAPFRE Stadium to start a two-game road trip, beginning against the Houston Dynamo this Saturday, April 27th. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.