Despite riding their first win streak of the season into Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, the Columbus Crew left Salt Lake City with less momentum than ever after a 4-0 pummeling at the hands of Supporters' Shield leaders Real Salt Lake.
"It's definitely a tough one to swallow," defender Chad Barson said after the match. "We could have played better all around. Especially after winning two games in a row, to have a performance like this is disappointing."
Head coach Robert Warzycha said that the team knew the kind of pressure the hosts would bring into the match, but his team’s effort simply wasn’t up to par.
"Coming into the game, we know how they were going to play and what they were capable of doing," he said. "We didn't match their intensity, they were first to the ball, especially in the first half. Even though they only scored one goal, they were much sharper."
RSL's lone first half goal came on a free kick deflection off of Kyle Beckerman, leaving goalkeeper Matt Lampson helpless as the ball changed direction and found the back of the net just before halftime. The second goal for RSL came when Lampson appeared hobbled for a moment, and could not regain his composure in time to stop a Devon Sandoval shot that put the home team up 2-0 in the 51st minute.
"The first two goals were very unfortunate, I would say," Warzycha said. "The first one was a deflection off the wall in the last minute and the other, the goalkeeper was injured basically and couldn't save it."
Perhaps as damaging as the final score for Columbus was the loss of Designated Player Federico Higuain for next week's match hosting the Seattle Sounders. Higuain was suspended due to yellow card accumulation when he was booked for a foul in the 34th minute and completed his evening with a second yellow for dissent in second half stoppage time. Higuain has scored the Crew's last four goals, and has started each MLS game for the club in 2013.
"With two games coming up at home, it's a big loss for us," Warzycha said. "He's our engine, he's scoring goals, and unfortunately for us he got the second yellow in the end; even the first one put him over the top. That's a big loss."
After a blowout loss, the Crew will be facing a tough week of practice, and defender Josh Williams says the team needs to refocus now more than ever.
"We need to prepare hard. We need to watch film. We need to go hard at practice. We need to totally regroup. We need to get this out of our mind."