Columbus Crew admit "we didn't deserve to win" after last-minute loss to Sporting KC

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Crew are in the midst of a downward spiral.

Having lost their last two matches, the Crew have posted just one win in their last 16 matches, and followed a 4-1 drubbing in New York Saturday with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in Columbus Wednesday.

And while there was a somber tone to the Columbus locker room, head coach Gregg Berhalter isn't letting his players pity themselves.

"We're not victims in this whole thing," Berhalter told reporters after the match. "The way we performed, we didn't deserve to win that game. It wasn't a pretty soccer game. The whole thing wasn't pretty.

"Our job is to come out here and entertain the fans and play attractive soccer, and we didn't do that. We didn't live up to our end of the bargain tonight."

Goalkeeper Steve Clark said Berhalter sent the same message to the team.

"I tend to agree with that; I think it's true," he said. "We don't need to feel sorry for ourselves. We put ourselves in that situation today."

Clark said that he still believes in the team, but to turn the recent stretch around, the Crew will need to do some soul-searching.

"We need to take a look at ourselves in the mirror, start playing with confidence and start sticking together as a team," he said. "I still think we're a very good team, but obviously we didn't show that tonight."

Even at 1-1, the team wouldn't have been happy with the draw, said winger Ethan Finlay, who has been one of the lone offensive sparks for the Crew in recent weeks.

"I don't think we honestly would have even been satisfied with a tie tonight, but we definitely didn't earn the win," he said. "It's frustrating. It's a frustrating performance."

Berhalter preached performance over results early in the season, but after their recent tumble the Crew boss admitted he's having a harder time praising his team's play.

"It's still mixed, don't get me wrong, we're not saying we need to win the championship," he said. "That's not what we're saying. But we expect a certain level of performance, and that's what we're looking at. When you have that level of performance, you get a result."

Captain Michael Parkhurst was at a loss for words after the match, and said he's not sure where the team needs to go from here or what he can do as a leader to improve the situation.

"Things aren't going well for us, obviously," he said. "From an effort standpoint, we need to get better. Gregg was saying at halftime that we didn't even fight in the first half, and he's right. They bullied us, and that's disappointing, especially on our own field...We just need to grind out some ugly wins right now. We'll take anything."