COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Crew knew they would have their hands full against the explosive Red Bull attack of Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper.
But they didn't anticipate the defensive collapse that occurred early in Saturday afternoon's 4-1 home loss to New York. Cooper was responsible for staking the visitors to a 2-0 lead after a mere 13 minutes.
"I think those were probably rookie mistakes that we made on the first goal and the second goal,” Crew manager Robert Warzycha said in his postgame press conference. “That put us on our heels in the beginning. We tried to go forward and tried to pressure, but [New York] was always finding a way to get out of the pressure we put on them.”
“We didn't come out with any energy. We just came out flat,” Crew center back and captain Chad Marshall reflected after the defeat. “We didn't match their intensity. We didn't get pressure on them at all. They could do whatever they wanted to and we had nothing going offensively. It was the perfect storm of things against us.”
There was no looking back for the Red Bulls as Henry netted his sixth goal in three matches on a counterattack in the 40th minute. Henry struck again just before the final whistle to give New York a rotund 4-1 result and their first road win of 2012.
Coming off consecutive clean sheets, Crew 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum is taking responsibility for the 4-1 loss.
“We came out flat. There’s really no excuse for it at home,” Gruenebaum said. “It starts with me and I think the energy has to be better from the get-go.”
Despite the Crew's dismal first-half performance, there were a handful of positives to be taken from the defeat. Dilly Duka returned from a hamstring injury, substituting Bernardo Añor in the 57th minute and giving the Columbus attack a boost off the bench.
Rookie Ethan Finlay also created quality chances for the Crew as they attempted to mount a response in the second half.
"[Duka] came on very strong, and Ethan [Finlay] also,” Warzycha said of his substitutes. “[Finlay] had one chance to score a goal and he created another one with a slide tackle to get it to Emilio [Rentería]. I think they did a lot.”
Duka’s performance Saturday could earn him a spot back in the starting XI next week as the Crew head to Philadelphia to face the winless Union.