There may come a time in late October when the Columbus Crew rue the points dropped at New England on Wednesday, but for now their 2-0 defeat is being put in perspective following a grueling stretch of matches.
Although the Crew lost an opportunity to pull to within five points of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City and within one of current runners-up New York, their 4-1-2 mark over 22 days pulled them into the final playoff spot with seven matches remaining.
“This one initially is going to leave a bad taste,” Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday night following the loss, “but the minute we get back to Columbus tomorrow and realize we have a few days off and take advantage of it, we’ll be able to forget about it and move on.”
Because of the international break, the Crew are idle until their match at New York on Sept. 15., which kicks off a string of three games in eight days.
After what they’ve been through recently, though, they should be able to handle the schedule.
“[Wednesday] obviously didn’t go well for us, but over the past six or seven games we went on a good run there,” Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven told the media after the match. “We can take a break after having a busy last month or so, and hopefully we can make a run for the playoffs.”
Still, losing to a club that was winless in 10 games and out of the postseason hunt was a blow to their quest to qualify for the playoffs for a fifth straight season.
The Crew (12-9-6, 42 points) are two points back of third-place Chicago, but the Fire have played one fewer match. Columbus are tied for fourth with Houston in the same number of games, but the Dynamo hold the first two tiebreakers – goals scored (39 to 33) and goal differential (+6 to +1).
Meanwhile, D.C. United (41 points) and Montreal (39) are lurking just outside the playoff field.
“We did a good job of getting the points in this period,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “This is a game you look at that we should win, but that’s what happens in soccer.”
Crew show tired legs vs. Revs
Warzycha went with the same lineup as Saturday’s match against Montreal but in retrospective he said fresher legs might have helped Wednesday.
“Maybe we could have gone with different players because a few of them were tired,” he said.
Left back Josh Williams was coming off a one-game suspension but Warzycha opted to stick with Nemanja Vukovic at that spot while centerback Danny O’Rourke started his fourth straight match for only the second time this season.
Forward Jairo Arrieta also logged heavy minutes and is now goalless in three games. He tied the club mark with seven offside calls vs. the Revolution.
“You always know more after the game,” Warzycha said of second-guessing his selections. “Overall, if we talk about the last seven games, we should be happy about how many games we won and how many points we got.”