Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha is not panicking, but he does sound a bit exasperated by the lack of scoring that he attributes to hesitancy and a lack of concentration.
“We have to be more decisive, basically, with the last pass,” he said this week at training. “Whoever we have on the field — whether it’s two forwards, three forwards or two wingers and a forward — we’re creating chances but we’re not scoring the goals. The chances are very, very clear. We have to be sharper in front of the goal.”
The Crew have eight goals in nine games and were blanked for the third time this season last Saturday in a 3-0 loss at San Jose.
“We’re trying to score the perfect goal sometimes,” he said.
Warzycha cited the Earthquakes’ second of three goals as nothing fancy but effective nonetheless. Former Crew striker Steven Lenhart made a run off a corner kick and got a glancing header. The ball went off the back of teammate Brandon McDonald and across the goal line.
“If you shoot, good things happen,” Warzycha said.
It’s not like the Crew (3-2-4) have lacked opportunities. They rank sixth of 18 teams in shots, seventh in corner kicks and eighth in shots on goal, but only Philadelphia’s six goals are fewer than Columbus’ eight.
“It comes down to being a little bit better when we get into the other team’s final third,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “We’re getting there, but it’s that last pass, that last shot that’s not there.”
Half of Columbus’ eight goals have been from penalty kicks, skewing the anemic numbers more favorably.
Warzycha hinted that changes could be forthcoming Saturday at Portland in terms of either switching back to a conventional 4-4-2 or keeping the lone striker approach and changing players.
“Obviously, if we’re not scoring the goals we’re going to have to look elsewhere,” he said. “There’s no question. We’re not going to be the team that plays attractive, plays good, keeps possession and goes nowhere. At some point, we’re going to have score some goals, whether it’s [through] personnel changes or looking at the tactics.”
Warzycha has used Emilio Rentería up top while Designated Player Andrés Mendoza and Jeff Cunningham, who needs one goal to tie the MLS career mark of 133 set by Jaime Moreno, have languished on the bench.
Their lack of minutes and production has been magnified because the Crew are only team not to score in the first half — all other teams have at least two goals.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” Warzycha said. “We have to be more aggressive.”
On the positive side, the Crew’s eight goals after halftime are one less than leader D.C. United.
“It seems there’s more time and space that opens up later in the game as the other team gets tired,” Gaven said. “We start to break them down and then we’re able to create more chances when that happens.”