COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Saturday night, Crew forward Andre Mendoza issued an apology for taking a penalty Wednesday against Real Salt Lake when Jeff Cunningham could have tied the MLS career goal mark.
Less than 24 hours after Mendoza’s statement was released, coach Robert Warzycha had to give a mea culpa of sorts, too, for the Crew’s dreadful 1-0 loss before 13,498 people in Crew Stadium.
“Too many guys had a bad game today – too many at once, put it that way,” Warzycha said. “Chicago was a team that wanted it more. When you have a combination of a team that wants it more and good players, obviously you’re going to lose the game."
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The Crew's first home loss of the season was punctuated by Cristian Nazarit's goal in stoppage time that was the Fire's first in three games and which ended a 0-4-7 streak.
Worse still, the Crew’s moribund attack was outshoot (18-8) for the first time in 13 games and didn’t register a single shot on goal. It also did not take a corner kick.
“I’m disappointed we lost," Warzycha said. "You can lose three points at home or away, but I’m more disappointed in the way we played. We didn’t create any offense, we defended for 90 minutes.”
He couldn’t use fatigue as a factor despite the Crew (4-4-6) beating Real Salt Lake on Wednesday because the Fire played a scoreless draw at Sporting Kansas City the following night.
While Chicago made four changes, Warzycha opted for only one by giving rookie Justin Meram his first start for midfielder Kevin Burns.
“This was the same combination when we started the game the way we finished the game against Salt Lake, which we played very, very well,” Warzycha said.
Meram was by no way the culprit but he was replaced by Dejan Rusmir in the 52nd minute and Burns replaced forward Jeff Cunningham in the 73rd.
“They were the best team from the eighth minute on,” Burns said of the Fire. “We had two early chances and then after that we maybe thought it would be kind of easy.
“They were fighting and winning most of the battles," Burns added. "They were the superior side. It happens. It’s very disappointing. We’ve been on the other end of those where we’re getting ties when we think we’re dominating the games. They took it to us.”
Warzycha tried to shake things up by moving right back Sebastian Miranda to the right flank among several changes in the second half.
“Obviously we tried to do something tactically that would help the game,” Warzycha said. “We couldn’t possess the ball, we lost the middle of the field.”
Despite the Crew’s struggles offensively, they were headed for a tie until Nazarit was left unmarked for a rebound of Orr Barouch’s shot. Hesmer got a hand on the first attempt but had no chance on the second.
“We were shaky,” he said. “Anytime you forced to defend, you’re bound to break down at some point.
“They broke through us,” he said of the goal. “We lost the one-on-one battle. I don’t know what happened. I got almost too strong of a hand on it.”
The Crew had no time to mount a response, and for the fifth time in history did not get a shot on target. The last time that happened was March 23, 2002, vs. the Fire.
“If someone would tell us before the game we would lose this game today I definitely would say no,” forward Emmanuel Ekpo said. “It happens this way sometimes in soccer.”