Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter did not mince his words after a 4-1 pummeling at the hands of the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
"I can safely say it's our worst performance of the year, and it's disappointing," he said. "We had the intention to play a good game and really come here and make it difficult, and we did just the opposite. We made it very, very easy for [New York].
"Not to take anything away from them, but the manner in which we conceded goals was amateurish."
The two teams came into Saturday's match tied for fifth place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But despite the heightened stakes, the Crew looked flat and left the match shaken.
"Throughout the game, we needed to play better," defender Chad Barson said. "We knew the importance of this game, and we didn't come out to play to the potential that we needed to. We need to start putting our words to action … and not just talking the talk."
Red Bulls star Thierry Henry had three assists and a goal in the match, setting the team's franchise assist record and tearing apart the Crew in the process. Not surprisingly, Berhalter wasn't happy with how his team dealt with the French Designated Player.
"You have one of the former best players in the world, and probably one of the best players in the league," he said. "You'd think that would give us, at least, alarm bells when he has the ball and he's around the ball and he's passing and moving and he's in the box. I would think we would want to be near him."
In addition to the painful defeat, the Crew also lost striker Jairo Arrieta to an injury in the first half and Bernardo Anor to a second yellow card late in the match. But the club have no time to lick their wounds, and host defending champs Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
Berhalter hopes his team can rebound, and is sick of sending the same message.
"We've got to pick ourselves up and move on," he said. "We put this game behind us. It's over, as of now, and we're moving forward. The message to the guys is, 'Let's not talk about it, let's do it.'"
Rookie forward Adam Bedell – who scored his first MLS goal on Saturday – knows how important the match will be.
"It's got to be three points," he said.