After another frustrating 90 minutes in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, the Columbus Crew are winless in their last six MLS matches, including two losses in four days.
And after only managing three goals in those six games, the team is beginning to show signs of frustration.
“The players, we're exhausted, we're tired of losing,” forward Dominic Oduro said after the match.
It's not just the results that have the team wondering what they're doing wrong. The Crew consistently out-possess their opponents, often creating many more chances, but can't find the goals they need. In Houston, head coach Gregg Berhalter said it was another example of a match where the club should have found a way to get the result.
“Obviously we're disappointed to lose two games ... today especially because we should have gotten something,” Berhalter said. “And that's why I’m disappointed.”
Defender Josh Williams echoed Berhalter's disappointment after the match, but placed the blame solely on those on the field.
“It's tough to go into Houston and win ... but at the end of the day, we don't want to make excuses, we're not that kind of team,” he said. “Gregg had us prepared, he did everything he could, we just didn't go out there and perform.”
Despite outshooting the Dynamo 18-11, playing nearly 100 more passes and managing 55 percent of possession, the Crew attack looked toothless, and despite a solid defensive outing, the team once again gave up a key set piece goal, this time to Houston's Will Bruin.
“We did well, I thought we controlled the game,” Oduro said. “We just fell asleep a little bit on the set piece. That's one thing we knew was their strength, and we just went off a little bit there, and that's something we can't afford to do anymore.”
Berhalter said he knew Bruin would be dangerous in the air, and had the team practicing set piece defense all week. And while poor marking allowed Bruin the free header – that bounced off of his head and shoulder before flying into the net – Oduro said he thought the forward was fortunate.
“I want to say he got lucky a little bit,” Oduro said. “I didn't think he had such a great header on it, but it's something that we knew was their strength... we just slipped a little bit there.”
Only nine games into the season, the Crew know they need to turn around their skid. And Williams made it clear that their home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday is an important one early in the season.
“We need three points,” he said. “It's a must-win.”