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What We Learned: Crew vs. Inter Miami

Our takeaways from another Crew loss in Florida.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It was another disappointing Saturday night for the Columbus Crew as the Black & Gold went down to Inter Miami 1-0. The loss is the Crew’s eighth in the last nine games to continue this poor stretch of matches that began on June 30 in the Bronx against New York City FC.

The match at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale had typical Columbus tropes as of late: a defensive lapse and lack of productive offense. It was the 10th time the Black & Gold have been shut out this season, more than tripling the amount of times the team failed ot score in a game last season.

Here are our takeaways from the Crew’s 11th loss of 2021.

Crew lacked grit

Bally Sports Ohio analyst Jordan Angeli brought this up during the match and I couldn’t agree more. The Crew lacked grit. Throughout the course of 90 minutes, Columbus players weren’t going for a physical, clean tackle or big one-on-one battle in midfield to try and get some positive momentum in the game. As soon as Gonzalo Higuain scored from Josh Williams’ poor back pass, the team seemed to shut off matching Miami’s physical play.

There is an argument to be made about the team lacking grit and aggression because the officiating put them in a corner. Harrison Afful and Lucas Zelarayan both received early yellow cards for very passive challenges that were embellished by the Inteer players. But as the game played on, Miami defenders took out Crew players and kept the game physical. Columbus didn’t match that physicality when the team needed to.

The offense is crying out for more tenacious dribbling

The match was controlled by the Black & Gold and they had more chances than Miami. However, the game seemed to be on a path to a 0-0 draw with Inter’s offense not testing Columbus and the Crew offense lacking creativity and drive. Throughout the match, unthreatening crosses were hoisted from both flanks with a couple yielding decent chances.

Some of the best chances of the game came late in the second half when Luis Diaz and Alexandru Matan came off the bench. Both players add a necessary spark and tenacity to the offense with active dribbling at defenders. Diaz used his speed to boom down the right wing and had a good moment when he dribbled at a defender towards the penalty box and forced a save. Matan’s best chance came when he quickly dribbled towards the line of Miami defenders only to then be surrounded by four of them in the 18-yard box.

Even though neither chance yielded a goal, they did give a boost of energy to an otherwise lethargic offense. Dribbling at defenders can get them out of their shape, force a foul, a corner or a good goal. The Crew needs more of those with the MLS Cup playoff push alive and well.

Every match is REALLY a must-win now

Ten games are left for the Crew in the regular season. If the Black & Gold want to play one extra MLS match, the time to win is really now. There are a possible 30 points for Columbus and each and every one is crucial to put the team in a playoff position. You might think that’s an obvious statement but let’s break it down.

Aside from the fact that the Crew is now in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, the team has played at least one extra game compared to the teams they are competing against for playoff positioning. If the likes of the the New York Red Bulls, Inter Miami, CF Montreal, Atlanta United and the Chicago Fire win their games in hand, the Black & Gold will have their backs pinned against the wall, needing not only wins but help from other results.

Of the 10 matches Columbus has left on the schedule, six are up against teams that are neck and neck with the club for postseason spots. The time for a long winning streak is now so the Black & Gold control their own destiny and get in the playoffs.