WASHINGTON – Columbus Crew SC didn’t look particularly desperate on Wednesday night.
That was a problem – because to keep their dimming playoff hopes from disappearing completely, they really needed three points out of their match-up with D.C. United.
But the Crew didn’t play with any real hunger. Faced with a quick turnaround after their exhausting 2-0 victory over New England on Sunday, Crew SC lagged. They managed to tread water through a back-and-forth first half, but came undone midway through the second stanza and had lost their grip on the match completely by the final whistle, limping off after a 3-0 drubbing.
“I think it wasn’t a bad start,” said Crew SC boss Gregg Berhalter. “But I don’t think it was great. I think it’s tough to get that top speed, that top intensity after playing Sunday night with a really quick turnaround. That made it difficult – you can see we were a little bit missing that. Although we had good actions, the quality wasn’t there to finish the action off.”
Columbus certainly had more of the ball – they out-possessed D.C. nearly 2-to-1 – but they did little with it. The loss leaves them eight points behind D.C. for the final playoff spot in the east with just four games remaining.
“It’s tough,” said Berhalter. “This was a big, big loss for us. I told the guys that. I think we were in striking distance and we needed something, and unfortunately we didn’t get it. Give D.C. credit, they had a good game plan – absorb, absorb, absorb and then score – and I think they executed it perfectly. Give them a lot of credit, and we have to pick up the pieces and perform on Saturday night.”
“We can’t give up,” he concluded. “That’s one thing. We can’t give up. I said we’re gonna keep fighting until we’re mathematically out of it. Fatigue is part of the game, mental toughness is part of the game and this is something we have to deal with it. We’re going to ask the guys to deal with it, and we’ll see who can and who can’t.”