The effort and energy were far greater than a week ago, but none of that translated into a goal or a point for the Columbus Crew in a 1-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
Coming off a 4-1 shellacking to New York, the Crew lost for the second straight time after Gabriel Gomez converted a penalty in the 38th minute.
While a young Crew team featuring three rookies in the starting lineup played well in stretches, it wasn’t enough.
“Whether they’re rookies or veterans on the team we have to match the intensity, especially away from home, and we did today,” head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I was pleased by that.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“You can always question the quality because sometimes you can have a better pass, you can have a better finish, but compared to the game against New York at home we were much better.”
Warzycha made a surprise switch by benching forward Emilio Rentería – the top returning scorer who was goalless in the first four games – and inserting rookie Aaron Schonfeld for his first MLS start.
“Emilio is a good forward but the last few games he had no goals,” Warzycha said. “Maybe somebody else can get lucky and score goals.”
Schonfeld teamed with Olman Vargas (above, right), who played 79 minutes in a midweek match for Costa Rica.
“We definitely had chances,” Schonfeld said. “I had chances. If I put one away early maybe a couple of other chances would have gone in.”
Ethan Finlay, the Crew’s top pick in this year’s SuperDraft, also made his first start in joining rookie Kirk Urso (five starts) in the midfield.
“I thought I prepared well all week. It felt great to get the nod from coach,” Finley said.
However, Finlay on the right wing and Eddie Gaven on the other side had trouble with the physical Union all match.
“We weren’t very good,” Warzycha said. “I can’t remember too many good crosses from the sides. I’m not really happy with our flank.”
The one change that Warzycha didn’t make played a prominent role in the outcome. Danny O’Rourke might have started for center back Eric Gehrig but it was decided hours before the game that his left ankle was still a problem.
It was Gehrig who got his left arm on the ball that led to the decisive penalty kick.
“The penalty kick was unfortunate,” Warzycha said. “We were controlling the game. They weren’t creating many chances then you have that penalty. So disappointing.”