When the Columbus Crew led the Chicago Fire 2-1 late in their US Open Cup match on Wednesday evening, it looked as if the thin squad of only 15 players would be able to steal the win in Chicago.
But an equalizer in the waning minutes of the match brought Chicago level, and the Crew couldn't recover, losing to their Midwest rivals for the second season in a row in the Cup.
Crew boss Gregg Berhalter made it clear that he wasn't happy with allowing the equalizer.
"If I take anything from the game, it's that I'm disappointed with that," he said. "When you're at that stage of the game, you have to be disciplined enough to carry it out."
But a makeshift lineup that included a shift to a five-defender system and several inexperienced players contributed to the goal, Berhalter said, noting that many players in the game at that point weren't ready for the pressure of the moment.
"I would say that it was a little bit the guys who haven't gotten enough minutes," he said. "They weren't comfortable in that position. Chicago was putting more pressure on us, and we just need to be brave and keep playing, and I thought we stopped doing that and as a result got punished."
Midfielder Bernardo Anor, who scored the Crew's second goal, brought up the team's inability to finish, a familiar storyline in Columbus.
"We had the opportunity to close out the match. We went up 2-1 with seven minutes left and let them tie the game and get us to overtime," Anor lamented. "We gave up two goals and they killed the game. We should have done much better toward the end of the game."
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Overall, Berhalter didn't seem too negative about the result, and was happy to have midfielder Wil Trapp back from injury, and will be able to use a slew of cup-tied players when MLS play resumes.
The Crew host FC Dallas on Saturday (8 pm ET, MLS Live), and the time couldn't be better for Berhalter, who said his team will be ready for the second half of the MLS season.
"The focus on the league resumes today, right now," he said. "Now all the attention is paid to the league and having a good push toward the end of the season."