COLUMBUS—Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Los Angeles was the best and worst of times for the Crew.
In the aftermath of falling to the other unbeaten team, Columbus rediscovered their fluidity with Guillermo Barros Schelotto masterminding the attack that had everyone involved for long stretches of possession and sharp runs to goal.
What the Crew couldn’t do was score, despite having 21 shots on goal and 15 corner kicks.
“It was the best game we’ve probably played all year,” midfielder Adam Moffat said. “We just didn’t get the result to match, but if we keep that up they’ll come.”
Coach Robert Warzycha was much happier with the performance than in many of the victories this season but clearly understands the bottom line.
“It was the worst game of the season because we lost,” he said.
As pleased as he was with the number of opportunities, the gnawing question is how the Crew could get so many shots but put only four on goal?
“We need to finish better,” he said.
The Crew (6-1-2) have road games vs. San Jose on Wednesday and against Colorado on Saturday, but Warzycha doesn’t expect a Galaxy-size hangover coming off their first defeat.
“We’re going to be fine,” he said. “We played the game the way we wanted. It wasn’t like somebody came here [to Columbus] and did damage to us mentally. We played very well and we didn’t win.”
UNEVEN STEVEN – Warzycha still believes in third-year striker Steven Lenhart but said it’s time for him to up his game. Lenhart missed an early chance from 5 yards Saturday that could have swayed the match and was replaced by Jason Garey in the 74th minute.
“At some point I need to see progress,” Warzycha said. “As a forward he can do a lot of things, but he has to score his chances on the ones he absolutely has to score. That one against LA was absolutely one he would have to score.”
Lenhart has started every game and has one goal and one assist in 752 minutes. He has taken 19 shots, put five on target and been offside 15 times. Reserve forward/midfielder Emilio Renteria has two goals on three shots in 100 minutes.
Warzycha loves Lenhart’s spunkiness and carefree attitude as long as it doesn’t veer into recklessness.
“He’s doing almost everything right,” Warzycha said. “Would I like him to have a better touch? Absolutely. Would I like him to not argue with the defenders and push and shove and battle with them and instead think more about the game? Yes, but that’s going to come with experience; with him being on the field consistently.”
NO WAY TO SAN JOSE – Defender Frankie Hejduk (hamstring strain) and Danny O’Rourke (quadriceps strain) did not make the trip to California and are unlikely to play Saturday as well with a three-week break from games to follow.
Warzycha hinted that he may go deeper into the bench than usual with the heavy schedule, including at altitude in Colorado.
Recovery from the LA match will be a factor as to who starts on the trip.
“I’m looking at this as a three-game swing, not two,” Warzycha said. “Absolutely, we’re going to see more players because whoever is fresh is going to be playing. I don’t think it’s possible to play three games with the same lineup, 90 minutes for everybody. There’s a limit.”
Schelotto, still a force at age 37, could play both.
“He’s an older guy, but he finds a way to get through the game,” Warzycha said. “If his service is as good as it was against LA, he’s got to be on the field.”
A NUMBER OF THINGS: The Crew’s last multiple-goal loss at home was 2-0 vs. San Jose on June 7, 2008, before starting an MLS-record 24-game home unbeaten streak… The 15 corners were three shy of the team record 18 taken at San Jose on May 10, 2008… Since Alex Grendi played 10 minutes at Toronto FC on May 2, 2009, no rookie has appeared in a Crew regular season or playoff game (34 matches). Barring injuries that won’t change this week since Dilly Duka, Shaun Francis and Othaniel Yanez did not travel.