The results suggest otherwise, but Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha feels his team is getting better even though a scoreless draw on Saturday at Portland stretched the winless streak to five games.
“I’m been very happy with the last three games, to be honest with you,” he told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We were unlucky last week [against Vancouver], but overall, we’re playing pretty good, pretty solid and steady games. We’re making progress.”
That may be in the eye of the beholder. While the team has played more consistency and spark over the past three matches following a 4-1 loss to New York and a 1-0 defeat at Philadelphia, the best the Crew could do was tie Houston 2-2, lose to Vancouver 1-0 and earn a point at hostile Jeld-Wen Field.
“Their crowd was really into it,” defender Eric Gehrig said. “It seemed like every time there was a turnover or they got the ball and were coming at us they really got up. We knew there would be times we would have to weather it.”
The Crew (2-4-2) were without captain and defender Chad Marshall, a late scratch because of concussion-like symptoms after he was hit in the head with a ball at practice on Friday. Marshall has had several concussions in his career, including missing the final two months of the 2007 season. He was to be evaluated in Columbus on Monday afternoon.
He joined nine others on the injured list, yet the Crew once again rued the numerous missed chances that could have produced their first win since March 31.
“We came out and played hard,” defender Josh Williams said, “and if things had gone our way, we might have gotten a better result, but this was definitely a good point for us.”
Williams has been the most lethal offensive weapon the past two games from his central defense spot and had two potential scores blocked at the goal line to extend the Crew’s scoreless drought to 196 minutes.
Knowing the offense has only six goals for the season has put the defense in a pressure cooker.
“It’s the truth,” Gehrig said. “Everything is magnified. You have to really concentrate in the back because we’re just not – whether it’s unlucky or bad bounces – finding the net.”
Super sub Gehrig
For the third time in his short career, Gehrig was a game-day fill-in when Marshall was scratched from the starting lineup. He had previously replaced Danny O’Rourke twice as a starter.
“It seems like protocol to me,” Gehrig said.
He and Williams were paired for the first time in an MLS match although they’ve played together extensively in reserve games and scrimmages.
“Those guys are crazy,” goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. “They’re like the Bash Brothers in the Mighty Ducks movie. They feed off each other. They lift weights together and do all that stuff. They work hard. They never complain.”