COLUMBUS, Ohio – After the Columbus Crew were eliminated from the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Colorado Rapids in a 5-4 penalty kick shootout loss, head coach Robert Warzycha said that 2010 was an improvement of the previous year.
“Last year, we lost both games in the playoffs,” he said. “This year we won one, 2-1 at home, and we lost on penalties. That’s a step forward for us compared to last year.
"Not only did we have more points than last year, but we were also little bit fitter in my mind this year," the coach added. "But we’re not going to the second round.”
Behind and to the left of the podium from where Warzycha delivered his postgame comments, the was a silent Crew locker room. They had just won the battle (a 2-1 victory in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal to tie the aggregate series at 2-2), but ultimately lost the war.
On the other side of the tunnel and for a second straight year, Crew Stadium hosted a visiting team celebrating a conference semifinal victory.
[inline_node:322765]Whether justified or not, Warzycha has a clear black and white perspective on the season that has led him to the conclusion that Columbus improved in many areas.
Did the Crew have more points than last season when it won a second straight Supporters’ Shield?
Yes. Their 50 points were one better and the second-most in team history.
Did the Crew advance further in the US Open Cup than in 2009?
Yes. Last year, Columbus were eliminated in their first match. This year, though, they won three games before losing 2-1 in the final to the Seattle Sounders.
Did the Crew improve in the CONCACAF Champions League?
Yes. Columbus posted a 4-0-2 record in their CCL group and advanced to the quarterfinals for a second straight year after going 2-2-2 in 2009.
And, as Warzycha pointed out, the Crew did better in the playoffs this season. But, as in 2009, Columbus lead the second leg 2-0 and had an aggregate lead in the series before ultimately falling to a lower seed.
Thus, for a second straight season, the one improvement that mattered didn’t materialize: The Crew didn’t reach the Eastern Conference Championship.
Unfortunately for Warzycha, that’s what will be remembered most.