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What We Learned: Crew vs Colorado Rapids

Our biggest takeaways after a hard-fought loss in Colorado.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC traveled to Denver to face a struggling Colorado Rapids side who, before Saturday night, had obtained only five points through the team’s opening 12 matches of 2019. They now have won two in a row under new head coach Conor Casey after Saturday night’s 3-2 win over Columbus, leaving the Black & Gold with an eighth loss of the season.

It’s mind-boggling to think that these losses have spanned over the team’s previous nine, after starting the season with one loss through their first six contests.

Let’s take a look at some of our takeaways after yet another performance falling just short of expectations.

It will get worse for the Crew

Don’t look, Crew fans. To say that this is only the beginning for a season which at this point, looks like we’ve reached a point of no return, is an understatement. If Columbus’ run leading up to Saturday was bad, losing 3-2 on the road to Major League Soccer’s worst might be the tipping point for Caleb Porter and the Crew.

While the game wasn’t necessarily one-sided, the consistent narrative of poor finishing existed yet again Saturday night in Colorado. The most evident of this being a chance in the 38th minute, when Gyasi Zardes put a free header wide of the goal.

The little things are beginning to add up fast for the Black & Gold.

What happened to the defense?

Realistically, the Crew got a little lucky that the score wasn’t worse. Rapids defender Tommy Smith had a chance to score off of a set piece (which would have been the third such goal of the night) in the 84th minute but was put to the right and clinked off the post. While it’s fortunate for Columbus that the goal scoring is looking slightly better this week, it’s taking a lot of emphasis away from the defense.

That is now six goals conceded by the Black & Gold this season on set-pieces, which is the worst in MLS this season. With the inevitable departure of Zack Steffen to Manchester City fast approaching, it looks like the issues on the backline will be sticking with the Crew for the duration of the season.

Just as it seems the offense has been steadily improving, the defense has shifted as the team’s primary issue.

Players must share the blame with Porter

Most neutrals will be quick to point the finger at Caleb Porter. It’s obvious to anyone that the downward spiral this team is heading at the moment. However, it’s equally the fault of the players for the stretch that we’re currently witnessing, if not more.

Porter can instill whatever he wants into the side tactically, but it’s up to the players to execute and finish. While the two goals scored by the Crew were the most scored in any of their defeats this season, they have yet to play a complete game on both sides of the pitch outside of the home victory against the LA Galaxy.

It’s unfortunate for Porter that he’s expected to get the best out of the players he has at his disposal. Failing at this is typically pointed to the coach, but the players have to share the blame. Simply put, they need to be better.

What were your takeaways from the match? Let us know in the comment section below.