Columbus Crew SC took a step backwards in the team’s pursuit of a 2019 Major League Soccer playoff bid. Following a 1-0 loss to Eastern Conference foe New York City FC, Columbus failed to get any points from an opponent in nearly a month. It was a crushing blow to a Crew side who had previously been unbeaten in the team’s prior six matches.
Wednesday’s game was the second and final match against NYCFC, which followed a June 1 2-2 draw at MAPFRE Stadium. With the Black & Gold’s 15th loss of the season officially on the cards, the question remains whether or not the Crew really can make a legitimate push for the seventh and final playoff spot.
Here are our takeaways from Wednesday night’s road loss.
Playoffs are (almost) out of the question
The mathematics will tell you something completely different, and fans may very well also say that it isn’t over until it’s over. However (SPOILER ALERT), the first season post-Save The Crew will be playoff-less. Columbus hass six matches in the span of about six weeks to make its mark and lessen the seven-point gap from where the team stands.
A major issue with that is, aside from the fact that the Crew is yet again showing defensive inconsistencies, teams that are much closer to the remaining playoff spots also have games in hand. The Black & Gold have played 28 games so far this season. Toronto FC, Orlando City SC and the Montreal Impact, all teams that stand between Columbus and the playoffs have 26, 27 and 27 respectively.
It’s certainly a tall mountain to climb for the Black & Gold, who’s time is running out to make a statement in 2019. Time is only running out for Caleb Porter and his Crew. If Columbus cannot get all three points against the worst team in MLS in FC Cincinnati on Sunday, you can put the team’s playoff hopes in a bottle and toss it in the Scioto River.
Porter was out of options
Considering a short week that Columbus was forced to play under, head coach Caleb Porter was subsequently short of options for Wednesday’s team selection. The Crew was in the midst of a three-game stretch in the span of only eight days. It was obvious to Porter that Sunday’s encounter against FC Cincinnati will be a much more feasible result given the consistency of NYCFC in 2019.
With Wednesday’s result, New York City improved its home record to an outstanding 7-1-4. The team now sits only one point back from first place in the Eastern Conference, also with games in hand. Given the two sides after even one half of play, finding even the smallest result was seemingly improbable.
Porter made six changes from Saturday’s 2-2 draw to Toronto FC, highlighted by Pedro Santos, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes either being on the bench or not making the trip at all. Replacements Romario Williams, Eduardo Sosa and David Guzman were all inserted and had uninspiring performances. Columbus was, however, able to register six shots on goal but it wasn’t enough against a stout NYCFC side who was clicking on all cylinders.
A typical starting lineup during the recent unbeaten streak is expected to return Sunday in Hell is Real Part Two on the road against FC Cincinnati which will be a must-win for the Black & Gold.
What were your takeaways from the match? Does Columbus still have a shot at making the playoffs or did the team ride ship weeks ago? Let us know in the comments section below.