With a devastating 1-0 home loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Columbus Crew are one step closer to officially exiting the playoff race. Facing a week of watching their Eastern Conference foes and slipping down the standings while they sit idle, things aren't looking positive for the Crew.
But despite the grim outlook, interim head coach Brian Bliss says he doesn't expect the team to let up in their final two matches, both against the New England Revolution.
"We know we need help somewhere along the line, but we've got to help ourselves. If we get six points, I'm not even sure that does it. I don't know. We have to play like we're still in it and go at it," he said after the match. "If we're looking at the standings and there's still a mathematical chance, there's no reason why you should throw in the towel."
Columbus winger Dominic Oduro said after the match that the Crew felt like they deserved more out of the game, and that they don't view it as a poorly-played 90 minutes.
"I don't think we struggled. They just defended really well. They scored from a set piece and then just sat back and defended the whole game," he said. "They're a good team defensively, and that's exactly what they did. I didn't even see them go up the whole time, because they knew we could beat them with our speed and the offense that we have."
While Bliss kept short of saying that Kansas City stopped trying offensively, he made it clear that the result came from a defense-oriented approach from the visitors.
"That's a good team, and [Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes] has them organized, and I'm sure he's watched us play and knows what our strengths are. The space in behind was very limited for our guys to get into, and we couldn't execute a play," he said, adding that he didn't think his team was poor, but that the credit belonged to Kansas City.
"When they were conceding the midfield up to midfield, it's tough to get in behind anybody. And their block of eight are pretty robust. It was pretty difficult to break them down."
Midfielder Tony Tchani said that the locker room was sad after the match, and succinctly outlined what has to happen in the next two matches.
"We have to [win them both]," he said. "We have to go to New England [on Oct. 19] and try to win no matter what. Even if we don't make it to the playoffs, we have to finish strong."