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What We Learned: Crew vs. D.C. United

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Our takeaways from the Black & Gold’s fifth consecutive loss.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The roughest stretch in quite some time for Columbus Crew SC continued on Saturday night after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of D.C. United at Audi Field. It was the Black & Gold’s fifth consecutive loss to match, a stretch that they haven’t seen since 2000. This is also the second win against the Columbus in as many weeks for Ben Olsen and D.C.

Here are our takeaways from the match:

The Crew’s problems run deep

It may get worse before it gets better for Caleb Porter and the Crew. Not only is this their fifth consecutive loss of the season, they are now only one loss away from matching their franchise-worst of six losses, something that Crew fans would have to travel back in time to the 1997 season to witness.

While the game was nothing short of controversial (we’ll get into that), issues for the Black & Gold may be sticking around for a bit longer. It’s been a topic of the losing streak that the offense has fallen well short of expectations. Much of the focal point is beginning to shift to the once-invincible defense and how poor they have been since their last win against the New England Revolution on April 6.

Four of the Black & Gold’s first six contests saw the backline maintain clean sheets, conceding only four goals while building a 4-1-1 record. That can be compared to 10 goals conceded during the duration of their losing streak, three of which coming from set pieces and a record of 0-0-5.

While it’s been well addressed that the offense has been struggling to capitalize, the same can now be said about the guys in defense as well.

MLS needs better emphasis on officiating

The running headline from this matchup will forever be known as one of the worst and most blatantly obvious foul calls in the history of Major League Soccer. Ted Unkel has long been criticized for his poor calls in MLS, handled things about as poorly as possible, twice getting in the way of play, and once using Video Assistant Review as an excuse for his inability to move around the field the way a referee is supposed to.

Captain Wil Trapp was called for a foul on United’s Luciano Acosta which took the opener off the board. Had the goal stood, Columbus would have had the first goal in a game for the first time in since their last win against New England. After such a blatant blown call, what does MLS need to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

The easy answer is that there is no easy answer. Porter acknowledged how absurd it was that both the VAR (Kevin Terry), Unkel and himself saw the same exact replay and the goal was somehow disallowed. The purpose of VAR is to review a foul or a call of some sort that fits the description as “clear and obvious.”

When something is clear and obvious and the call is still wrong, what can you do?

“It’s unbelievable guys. I mean honestly, it’s unprecedented,” Porter said.

Caleb Porter is a man of the Black & Gold

If Columbus fans had any questions about head coach Caleb Porter’s passion, he put those to rest after Saturday’s post game interview with reporters.

“We’re not getting respect at all. That’s the thing that really bothers me the most,” Porter said. “No respect at all. I’ve seen it in the league when I was with Portland for five years, it was the same. We didn’t have the big-name guys, so the referees often times would not give us the same treatment. It’s nothing new. I’m used to it.”

Though it shouldn’t come to a surprise for anyone if Porter faces a league-imposed fine for his words post match, and the Crew should be willing to help him pay those given the nature of what occurred, he felt it was necessary not to mince anything he said. Not that anything was expected to be given or easily-achieved with this squad, but Porter is backing the club even through a difficult stretch like the one we’re currently witnessing.


Did anything else stand out to you in the Crew’s loss on Saturday night? Let us know in the comment section below.