Crew View: Winless streak makes September forgettable

Columbus Crew vs. Sporting KC

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While much of the American sports world is abuzz with the epic September collapses of Boston and Atlanta for Major League Baseball’s wild card races, the Columbus Crew are also dealing with the fallout of a month to forget.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City gave the Crew four losses and a tie in September to extend their winless streak to 0-5-1.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: KC 2, CLB 1
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The Crew (11-12-8, 41 points) are now third in the Eastern Conference behind Sporting (44) and the Houston Dynamo (42) and the fall could worsen:

The Philadelphia Union (40) can move past the Crew with a win vs. D.C. United on Thursday or DCU (38) could equal the Crew in points with a victory. Columbus host D.C. United on Sunday.

“It’s time to separate the teams that are going to the playoffs and the teams that aren’t going to the playoffs,” Crew defender Julius James said. “I think we are one of the teams that are going to go to the playoffs.”

Here’s a look at how Wednesday’s game put the Crew in dire straits:

The Good

Forward Emilio Rentería scored on an 18-yard laser off Robbie Rogers’ pass to make it 1-1 in the 34th minute for his second straight solid performance after missing two games because of a concussion. Unfortunately for the Crew, Rentería played only 65 minutes.

“Because of his injury, he’s not totally fit,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “He was gassed.”

Rentería (seven goals in 15 games) is clearly the go-to guy after leading scorer Andrés Mendoza (11 goals in 26 games) couldn’t convert a late one-on-one with the goalkeeper that could have earned the Crew points.

“A player of his caliber should do a little better,” Warzycha said of Mendoza.

The Chad

Center back Chad Marshall made a clumsy challenge on C.J. Sapong that led to a Kei Kamara penalty kick in the 15th minute.

Marshall isn’t saying so, but a hip flexor strain seems to have affected his mobility and aerial prowess.

The Ugly

James tried to head away a throw-in by Matt Besler, but instead he put the ball into the Crew goal for the SKC winner in the 74th minute.

“He was trying to help,” Warzycha said of James. “He came from the side. If he had come out front he might have had a better chance to win the ball.”

A number of things

10 – Minutes out of 540 the Crew have lead in the past six games. They have trailed for 289 and been tied for 241.

7 – Assists this season for Rogers; he had nine in his first four years.

2 – Career road goals in 18 games (11 starts) for Mendoza compared with 11 goals in 15 games (11 starts) at home. Ten of his 11 goals this season have been in Crew Stadium.

2 – Own-goals and successful penalty kicks apiece the Crew have conceded in the past six games. “We are giving away goals,” Warzycha said.