The Crew knows how to get results with few shots on goal. The team only registered three shots on target to earn three goals and four points on last week's road trip to San Jose and Seattle.
Unfortunately for the Black & Gold, the club was on the opposite end of the spectrum in Tuesday night's US Open Cup 2-1 loss to USL-Pro side Dayton Dutch Lions. The Crew out shot the Dutch Lions 18-3 and dominated most of the match, but two costly mistakes saw the Columbus' 1-0 lead vanish and transform into a 2-1 deficit in a two minute span.
A ball given away in the midfield by Olman Vargas in the 79th minute led to the Dutch Lion's first tally of the night as the Black & Gold were out numbered in its own area to leave Gerrit-Jan Bartels an open shot to beat Matt Lampson. In the 81st minute, a missed clearance from rookie Aubrey Perry left a sitter for Gibson Bardsley to make it 2-1.
"We made two stupid mistakes at the end, and we have to take (the loss) as a team," midfielder Chris Birchall said in a somber locker room after the match. "It's disappointing. We had 18 shots and scored on a penalty. It's very disappointing, but even though we lost, I think at times we played well, but it doesn't count for anything when you lose a game."
Perhaps the Crew became too relaxed after Vargas' converted penalty kick in the 61st minutes, allowing the Dutch Lions to press forward in the attack.
"I don't know if we'd thought we'd won the game already, but when you're one-nil up, the next goal kills it. If we get it, it's two-nil and they're dead and buried. You could tell when they scored, they were just going to come at us the last five or six minutes," Birchall explained.
"Everyone that has played the game of soccer knows that if you don't put teams like that away early, as time progresses they're going to get more and more confident," Crew defender Eric Gehrig echoed. "I think that's what happened. I knew if we didn't put them away, it was going to be trouble. Unfortunately, that's what happened."
While it wasn't his typical starting XI, 10 of the 14 Crew players Robert Warzycha used on Tuesday have started in an MLS match this season. Two of the four players that haven't started yet this season, Birchall and Julius James, were regular starters in 2011 and were at full fitness for the first time this season.
"At the end of the day, we're all pros here. We've all played games in MLS. It's just about going out there and taking care of business," Gehrig elaborated. "Bobby (Warzycha) puts the trust in us to go out there and get it done. Today, we didn't. It's not good enough.
"Maybe down the road, it will be something to learn from, but right now it stings."