OBETZ, Ohio – If anyone thought Shaun Francis would be down after the first bit of adversity, they don’t know the confident Crew rookie defender.
Francis made his second career start and third appearance Saturday at Chivas USA and struggled mightily at times in the 3-1 loss.
He lost his mark in the 37th minute and Justin Braun scored the game’s first goal. Then Francis tried to chest a goal kick back to keeper William Hesmer, but it was intercepted by Blair Gavin for a 2-0 deficit in the 45th minute.
After impeccable play in his two previous appearances, Francis’ youthfulness finally showed, although he reacted like a veteran.
“It happens,” he said. “You can’t let that get you down and keep you from what you’re supposed to be doing. You have to recover from that as quickly as possible because the game is not over.
“You have to have the confidence,” he added. “The coach let me out there to play 90 minutes so he has the confidence in me knowing that I have confidence in myself to still perform. Everybody has a bad day. It’s a part of life.”
It’s that self-assurance that Columbus coach Robert Warzycha likes. Although Francis was the 63rd of 64 picks in the MLS SuperDraft out of NAIA school Lindsey Wilson, he said in the preseason his goal was not to just make the team, but start.
The Jamaican left back proved prophetic when he got the nod over mainstay Gino Padula on July 24 vs. Houston and helped the Crew to a 3-0 victory. With Padula nursing an inflamed left knee that will keep him out of Thursday’s match at Philadelphia, Warzycha may go with Francis again.
“He needed some help from his teammates on Saturday,” Warzycha said. “He wasn’t panicking out there. He just did some things wrong tactically.”
Still, Warzycha is not about to let Francis off the hook for his errors because he's a rookie.
“You expect the players not to make mistakes,” Warzycha said. “If you know the player is going to make mistakes, why have him on the field?”
Francis has the support of his teammates.
“When I started playing, [stuff] happens sometimes,” midfielder Brian Carroll said. “The only way that you’re going to learn from it and grow as a player is playing through the mistakes. As a team, we lost. Whether they’re individual mistakes or team mistakes, they all count toward the loss.”