Compiling a 2-2-3 mark while playing five of the first seven games on the road is not terrible, but Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Chicago showed some of the Columbus Crew's vulnerabilities and left them further frustrated with their start to the season.
"No one's happy with our record," goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum told MLSsoccer.com after the match against the Fire at Toyota Park.
For a team that added offensive firepower in Federico Higuaín and Jairo Arrieta late last season and former Fire attack Dominic Oduro in February, the Crew have just nine goals. Making matters worse, no one other than Oduro has scored in the past 302 minutes. He had goals in 1-1 ties with the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact before the loss this past weekend in which they had zero shots on goal.
"The second half we got dominated," defender Josh Williams told the media after the game. "We couldn't get anything going. It is tough to stomach. I don't think we played well at all. There is no excuse for coming out the way we did. I think everyone is frustrated now."
While Columbus have conceded only seven goals this season, and only one in each of the past five matches, their only clean sheet came in a 3-0 win in the season opener at Chivas USA.
"We have a solid defensive group," Gruenebaum said. "We have to start getting shutouts. That's the key. That starts with me."
Gruenebaum may have been critical of himself for the loss at Chicago, but there was not much more he could do. He made six saves, many of them spectacular ones, in a performance similar to many of the early-season games in 2012 that had him under consideration for the All-Star Game roster.
The problem was the Crew were on the defensive side of the field nearly the entire second half.
"We just have to take control back of the game" Gruenebaum said. "Maybe play the line higher."
The only positive from the match is that they finally start a three-game homestand Saturday against D.C. United before the New York Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids visit. Those teams have a combined record of 6-13-5 and Columbus have an 11-game unbeaten streak (7-0-4) in Crew Stadium, although both games there this season have been draws.
"We need to figure some things out and sort out the possession area," Williams said.