In a game of moments, it only goes as far as who capitalizes on them.
In Columbus Crew SC's 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday, the Black & Gold again displayed the offensive presence they are capable of, leading in shots, crosses, corners, duels won, and possession, but a wholesome performance between the boxes did not trump clinical finishes from Portland.
"It’s a game of moments and we didn’t finish in the moments and they did," said head coach Caleb Porter after the game.
Early on, the Crew held advantage in possession in the opponent's half, often finding space out wide with Pedro Santos on the left and Robinho on the right who could swing crosses in with their dominant foot without committing an extra touch to cut back in. And, again, early on, the chances were there - even if the final ball did not find anyone - as Crew SC totaled three headers on seven open-play crosses and three corners, while also tallying six shots from inside the 18-yard-box.
Per Opta, the Crew created 11 goal-scoring chances on the day, compared to 10 from Portland. Of the Timber's 10, three came from set-play and that proved critical, as the first goal came via a free-kick cross into the box.
And with that first goal, it changed the attitude.
"We got stunned for the goal in the set piece," Porter said. "I thought then from there we weren’t good for the next 20 minutes, and I really thought that 20 minutes was the only 20 minutes in the game we weren’t good."
As it's been through eight matches this season for the Crew, who totaled six chances from open play and five from set pieces, it's about capitalizing.
"We had those same situations times three or four, where we were in positions to cross, same with set pieces - they finished in their one or two that they had and we didn’t on our three, four or five times that we had and a lot of times in this sport that’s what it comes down to."
When it comes to chance conversion, whether in training or on the pitch, it's about being ruthless, said midfielder Wil Trapp.
"Well I think it’s understanding, yes we’re training it and working hard at it, but when you get into a game it’s time to be ruthless. It’s a lot of focus and it’s a lot of training, but then when the game comes it’s throwing one hundred percent commitment into those moments," Trapp said.
Up next, Columbus returns to MAPFRE Stadium to host D.C. United on Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Supporters can watch the match on SportsTime Ohio, stream on FOX Sports GO, or listen on 97.1 FM The Fan or www.ColumbusCrewSC.com (English & Spanish).