COLUMBUS, Ohio – It certainly wasn’t the worst defeat of the season on the scoreboard, but the Crew’s 1-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday was definitely the most disappointing.
With a chance for a second home victory in five days against an opponent that had one less day of rest, hadn’t won in 11 games and failed to score in the previous two, there was no reason to believe the Crew would put up such a lackluster effort.
Worse, the winner in the first minute of stoppage time by Cristian Nazarit happened in front of more than 400 jubilant Fire supporters who were the only ones cheering at the end among the 13,498 in Crew Stadium.
Goalkeeper William Hesmer, for one, wants to believe the game was an aberration coming off an impressive 2-1 comeback win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
“Too many guys had off nights,” he said. “I hope it’s a one-off. If this is our one every 15 games (actually 14), you don’t want it to happen, but you understand it.
“We were shaky. When we won the ball we didn’t threaten them at all,” he added. “We didn’t have a shot on goal. Anytime you forced to defend, you’re bound to break down at some point.”
The Crew (4-4-6) did nothing offensively, getting no shots on goal for the fourth time in club history. They had only eight shots for the game and two came in the first three minutes when Eddie Gaven and Andres Mendoza missed their best opportunities.
“We had two early chances and then after that we maybe thought it would be kind of easy,” midfielder Kevin Burns said. “They were fighting and winning most of the battles. They were the superior side. It happens. It’s very disappointing.”
More so than the 3-1 defeat in the season opener at D.C. United when a team full of newcomers wasn’t close to jelling. More than a 3-0 loss at San Jose when the Crew had numerous chances but couldn’t do anything right defensively. And more than a 1-0 setback at Portland, when former Crew member Eric Brunner scored the game-winner against his old club.
And it certainly didn’t help that it came after perhaps their best win of the season, a midweek comeback against Real Salt Lake that ended with a 2-1 triumph.
“These things happen, but today the team didn’t show the same electricity in the match as on Wednesday,” Mendoza said afterward. “We didn’t keep the ball well. We need to reconvene and discuss what to do next. We were tied at zero and lost our concentration. We need to be more focused all the way to the end.”
AHEAD: Dropping the three points at home was crucial because the Crew play Saturday at Houston, where they are 0-1-4 and have scored three goals in Robertson Stadium.
BY THE NUMBERS:
9 – Games (5-0-4) unbeaten at home in the regular season since Sept. 18 before Sunday; also goals this season from open play.
8 – Minutes the Crew has led in the past seven games
5 – Times shut out in 14 games after being blanked in nine of 30 last season.
1 – Win in the past 11 regular season games vs. the Fire (four losses and six ties).