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11/30 9:20pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Poor Crew run extended vs. Wizards

The Columbus Crew suffered their worst loss ever at Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday evening, hit for three goals in a nine-minute span early in the first half as the Kansas City Wizards rolled to a 4-0 victory.

Alex Zotinca, Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud had tallies during the Crew's horrendous stretch beginning in the 17th minute, and Wizards coach Bob Gansler was happy to see his team finally deliver the whole package to a match.

"We did very well. We have been looking for a game like this for a while," said Gansler. "We played bits and pieces in games. One game we would have good offense and we would have good defense the next."

Despite the Wizards large lead at the break, it was the Crew that began the match with high pressure. Cornell Glen seemed to be everywhere during the match's first 10 minutes, but he was unable to apply the finishing touch to any of his chances.

After surrendering early goals in many games this season, including two goals in the first 10 minutes in their loss to D.C. United last weekend, Columbus appeared to make great strides Saturday. However, the lapse was just delayed.

"For the first 10 minutes, we were all over them," said Glen. "We lost concentration during the next 15 minutes."

It was the fastest three goals that the Crew have ever allowed. In their inaugural season, Kansas City pushed three goals past them in 10 minutes on May 2, 1996.

After the blitz, Kansas City reverted to a more defensive formation and permitted the Crew to dominate possession, but allowed few scoring chances. The Wizards were extremely careful guarding the lead after letting FC Dallas comeback from a two-goal deficit in their last match.

"Today in the first half, we were exquisite on both sides of the ball," said Gansler. "In the second half, we tried to go with a 0-0 mentality."

Columbus coach Greg Andrulis switched his squad to a 4-4-2 for tonight's match. Chad Marshall and Stephen Herdsman were paired as center backs with Chris Wingert moving to left back. It was Herdsman's first action of the season, while Danny Szetela was the odd man out of the midfield. But Andrulis didn't put down the formation as the reason for the string of poor results.

"We are obviously going through a very difficult patch right now," said Andrulis. "Everybody gets caught up with the X's and O's. It is really all about the execution during the game."

However, Andrulis switched back to the customary 3-5-2 at the break. Additionally, he inserted Ante Razov into an attacking midfield role. Razov added a bit of intensity to Crew and made an excellent pass to Glen for the Crew's best scoring chance. But with only Wizards goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi to beat, Glen skied the ball over the goal into the stands.

"I didn't score so I am disappointed. I think I should have scored early in the second half to put us back in the game," said Glen.

However, the Crew were unable to score and were shut out for the fourth time, including the second in a row at home, in seven games this season. In addition to their offensive woes, the Crew have given up seven goals in their last two games and 11 during the four-match losing streak.

"We have leaked in a lot of goals. You are not going to be very successful in any league when you give up three or four goals a game," said Andrulis.

The Crew started last season with a tough stretch, but the team never allowed goals at this rate before embarking on a league-record unbeaten run.

"Last year, we would give up one or two quality chances per game. This year we are giving up a lot more," said goalkeeper Jon Busch. "Collectively, we are giving up too many opportunities. It is putting us under a lot of stress."

Glen was the only attacker for the Crew that caused Kansas City any problems, but his effectiveness was limited after the Crew fell behind. The Wizards were packing many players in the box, which limited the space the Glen was using early in the match.

"Earlier in the game when there was space behind the defense, he was our most dangerous guy," said Andrulis.

The Crew boss opted for the lanky Cameron Knox as the Crew's mode of attack changed. "Also at that point in the game, there was no space behind the defense. So we thought we would get a target player in the game," said Andrulis. "We felt getting another big target player might help us with all of the crosses we had."

The move didn't result in many good scoring chances, much less any goals. A forward has not scored a goal for the Crew since Edson Buddle scored against D.C. United on April 15 -- which also happens to be the last home goal for the Crew.

John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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