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What We Learned: Crew vs. Orlando City SC

Here are our biggest takeaways from the Crew’s most recent defeat.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me if this sound familiar, Columbus Crew SC created a slew of chances but were unable to tally a goal at home. Orlando City rolled into MAPFRE Stadium and exited with all three points in the standings following a 2-0 win on Saturday. The old adage states that you learn more in defeat than you do in victory. Well, the Crew should be nearing a PhD at this juncture.

Here is what we learned from this most recent loss:

JJ Williams brought a boost to the team

In his first MLS start, Kentucky rookie JJ Williams made his presence felt from the opening whistle. Head coach Caleb Porter was adamant in last week’s game versus Sporting Kansas City that Williams needed to be more involved, show effort and take advantage of the minutes provided. Williams took his coach’s advice to heart and was the Crew’s most impactful player of the first half. He battled in the air, made runs, worked defensively and made himself a nuisance to the men in purple. Williams had three shots in the game, though none hit the frame. His very presence kept Orlando’s central defenders occupied from the start to Williams exit in the 77th minute.

After the match, Williams gave himself a C grade for his performance. He made it clear he needs to learn and develop and be cleaner in front of goal.

There is an 18-yard-box problem

When a team controls possession for 58.5% of a match, rips off 10 shots and earns 13 corners, conventional wisdom would state that a multitude of goals were scored for the side in question. The 2019 Columbus Crew continue to buck conventional wisdom and failed to score after putting up such a state line. In his postgame press conference, Porter was emphatic that the scheme their coaching staff has constructed is working in the middle third of the field, but Black & Gold have yet to roll that level of play to either 18-yard box.

The Crew is creating chances but are unable to finish. Columbus has only scored 16 goals in 18 games, second only to Ohio MLS brethren, FC Cincinnati. Porter said his team did “lots of good things box to box, but the most important thing is the scoreline and what you do in the box.” He continued, “It comes down to those moments and we aren’t scoring goals.” In the end, coaches can’t score goals. It’s up to the players to finish plays.

Statistics don’t always tell the whole story

Given the following stat line, who would you bet won the game, Team A or Team B?

Team A:
Possession - 58%
Passing Accuracy Overall - 81%
Passing Accuracy in Final Third - 72%
Crossing Accuracy - 21%
Corner Kicks - 13
Clearances - 9
Shots - 10

Team B:
Possession - 42%
Passing Accuracy Overall - 74%
Passing Accuracy in Final Third - 64%
Crossing Accuracy - 0%
Corner Kicks - 2
Clearances - 45
Shots - 3

Statistically, this is a no brainer, Team A wins this match. However, in this battle of middling Eastern Conference foes, it was Team B who pulled out the 2-0 victory. Columbus has been knocking on the goal door for weeks, if not months. At some point, the goals have to start going in. If Crew fans want to believe in the possibility of a 2019 playoff run, the goals better start coming soon, or it may be too little too late.