The Columbus Crew continued their difficulties on both ends of the field as they were handily defeated 3-0 by the MetroStars on Saturday night at Columbus Crew Stadium.
The MetroStars took the lead in the first half against a sluggish home side by way of a thrilling goal by Youri Djorkaeff. Eddie Gaven doubled the margin just after the break before Abbe Ibrahim finished off the scoreline late in the match.
Despite the availability of Cornell Glen after a one-game suspension following his red card in last Saturday's victory over Real Salt Lake, Crew coach Greg Andrulis decided to have him begin the game on the substitute's bench even though his squad went scoreless in Glen's absence against the Galaxy on Wednesday. Andrulis instead decided on the formation that earned the Crew a 0-0 tie at Los Angeles, with Kyle Martino as a withdrawn striker pairing with Edson Buddle.
"When Cornell came in, it had an immediate effect and changed the rhythm of the game," said Andrulis.
Glen created several outstanding scoring chances throughout the second half. The best change was in the 70th minute when Glen earned a penalty kick after being fouled in the box by Jeff Parke. Martino decided to take the penalty kick, but was denied by 'keeper Zach Wells.
"Kyle has confidence and steps up there. It was a good save," said Andrulis.
It was the third consecutive penalty kick miss for the Crew. The Crew were eliminated from the playoffs last year as Ross Paule and Tony Sanneh both missed against the New England Revolution. The current streak followed 20 consecutive conversions for the Black & Gold dating back to Oct. 3, 1999.
Several minutes before the penalty kick, the Crew missed out another great chance. Wells mishandled a cross by Martino and the ball fell opportunistically to Buddle. The Crew's leading scorer shanked the shot with Wells out of position.
"[Buddle] really worked his rear end off in L.A. Tonight it was a different game," said Andrulis. "How many times is he going to miss a chance like that one? Not very often."
The missed chance is the epitome of the Crew's season thus far. Once again, they failed to capitalize on their own chances, and as they done most of the year they were forced to play from behind after giving up the first goal. In 10 games this season, the Crew have allowed 17 goals while only scoring seven. The Crew have been shutout in six of those games, including three times at home.
With Jon Busch now out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, 'keeper Bill Gaudette made his first MLS start in the loss to the MetroStars. The rookie netminder for St. John's University was solid, but not spectacular in his debut for the Crew faithful.
"I don't think there is much he could have done on the goals. I don't think there were any glaring mistakes," said Andrulis. "He didn't bobble any balls or drop anything. His distribution choices were good. We didn't help him on the second or third goal."
Against the Metros, the Crew could have used some spectacular goalkeeping to keep them in the match. Gaudette was beaten by Djorkaeff from distance as the Frenchman scored his first MLS goal.
"He hit the ball well," said Gaudette. "We need to do a better job in preventing the opportunity from happening."
Gaudette was disappointed his first start resulted in a loss.
"In a team aspect, 3-0 is not the mark we were looking for, especially at home in front of our wonderful crowd," he said.
The rookie best summarized the Crew's performance on the evening: "To be honest, I felt confident going into the game. We really wanted three points at home and we fell really short."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.