COLUMBUS – If the Crew were as defiant defending their home turf as they were in insisting the result wasn’t indicative of the play, then maybe they wouldn’t have walked out of Crew Stadium with a jarring 4-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.
To be fair, even winning coach Sigi Schmid had kind things to say about his former team. But he has been around long enough not to provide bulletin board material for Columbus with a rematch looming in the U.S. Open Cup final in Seattle on Oct. 5.
“I know the Crew is a good team,” he said. “There was a period of time after we scored where they completely dominated us for 20 minutes.”
The problem for the Crew, now 13-7-5 after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, was that the first of Blaise Nkufo’s three goals came just four minutes into the game.
“We came from the locker room really flat,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
The Crew did pick up the pace and had several opportunities – notably a missed attempt from inside the box by Steven Lenhart and a Kasey Keller save on Eddie Gaven – but were miserable in their finishing again and the Sounders (10-9-6) made Columbus pay.
“That would have been huge if we were able to tie the game,” Gaven said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that and they scored two goals and that really, really, really killed us.”
Nkufo made it 2-0 in the 39th minute and Nathan Sturgis added a penalty kick in the 42nd as the stunned Crew went into the locker room down 3-0.
“We had that fighting spirit there,” Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer said. “They punished us for going forward and before we knew it in a blink of an eye it was 3-0 going into halftime.
“We had some looks. We didn’t put away our chances. They put away their chances. I’d like to see us fight a little bit more and be more prideful and not let that happen at that point.”
Despite being down three at the break en route to tying the team record for worst defeat, Warzycha saw the positives.
“We played very well in the first half,” he said. “The ball movement was very good. We created a number of chances but we couldn’t buy a goal. The first goal didn’t change anything because we started to play better. We dominated the game in the first half.”
He used the phrase “couldn’t buy a goal” four times in his press conference, and with good reason: Seattle had seven of its nine shots go on frame in the first 45 minutes, while the Crew had just one of seven on target.
“What’s probably hardest is we didn’t even play that bad at times during that game but somehow lost 4-0,” Gaven said. “Right now we’re trying to figure out why.”
“They were effective on the night,” Crew defender Danny O’Rourke said. “Sigi probably had them pumped up. They punished us. I don’t think they punished us on mistakes per se, maybe little lapses.
“We kept the ball well,” he added. “We were dangerous but couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. It showed – 4-0. That’s a [butt] kicking.”
It’s become common of late for the Eastern Conference leaders. In their last four losses since July 31, they have been outscored 12-2, including 7-1 in the past two matches.
“This is a game that’s unacceptable for us playing at home in front of a great crowd,” Gaven said. “To go out and lose a game like that 4-0 is something that should never happen.”
Asked if he was embarrassed, Gaven replied, “I would say, yeah, probably every guy in here is.”
Up next for the Crew is a home CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos Laguna on Tuesday.
“The best thing a professional can have is a short memory,” O’Rourke said. “You go home, get a good night’s sleep and prepare tomorrow for Tuesday.”