COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the second half of the season officially begins, Columbus Crew SC were looking to end a skid of just four points in 11 games. That wasn’t in the cards tonight, as Orlando City scored first and easily held on for a 2-0 win.
“I was massively disappointed for the supporters,” Crew coach Caleb Porter said, “I thought it was a great crowd today, and I feel really bad that we haven’t been able to reward them with three points. … I’m the head coach and I take responsibility.”
Despite only giving up one shot in the first half to Orlando, that shot was a goal. Chris Mueller knocked the ball in off a diving Jon Kempin, with assists from Nani and Danilo Acosta. The Crew had far more chances of their own in the opening half, but true to form of late, they could not convert on anything they created.
Rookie JJ Williams got his first start of the season, sending journeyman Patrick Mullins to the bench as the team desperately awaits the return of USMNT forward Gyasi Zardes. William’s size proved difficult for Orlando to handle, but ultimately the Lions were able to neutralize the sizable striker.
During a halftime interview, Porter said, “I expect a response” from the team in the second half. That response never came. The offense was unable to put any true threats on goal. The best chance came when Robinho attempted a bicycle kick at the top of the box that forced Orlando City keeper Brian Rowe to make a diving save.
Orlando doubled its lead in the 66th minute when Tesho Akindele held the ball at the top of the box. No one from the Columbus backline attempted to close the space on him, giving him ample time to line up his shot. Nani collected another assist on just the second Orlando shot of the night.
“I think both [goals] were defensive breakdowns,” Porter said. “Obviously there are going to be breakdowns in a game. … If you look at the first goal, we had two lines of four. We have eight guys. Three guys basically broke down eight guys for the goal. That should never happen.”
Columbus is now 0-11-1 in games during which they concede first. They have one win in their last 12 games and have not won a game on a weekend date since April 6. Porter’s first summer transfer window will provide a challenge, as the Crew need to make significant moves if they still want to make the playoffs. One of the reported moves the team has made so far is a trade for backup Atlanta United striker Romario Williams. Porter said he could not comment on the move, but the club will have updates on that report in the coming days.
Former Columbus coach Sigi Schmid became the third inductee into the Crew Circle of Honor at halftime. The 2008 MLS Coach of the Year won the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup that year. He joins Frankie Hejduk and Brian McBride as Crew Circle of Honor inductees. Schmid’s family accepted the posthumous honor on his behalf.