COLUMBUS — Despite the second half of the season just starting, every game has become a must win for Columbus Crew SC.
Playoff hopes are slipping away with the Crew, who have just four points in their last 13 matches, in the midst of a seven-game winless streak.
Entering their game against the Seattle Sounders, the Crew had also gone three four games without a goal. That streak would end, but the losses continue to pile up with a 2-1 defeat at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday night.
The opening goal came from Pedro Santos in the 13th minute after he was tripped in the box by Sounders midfielder Danny Leyva. Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei guessed wrong on the penalty kick, and Columbus (5-13-2, 17 points) had a first goal since June 1.
It was Santos’ fifth goal of the season. The winger had just one goal for the Crew in the prior two seasons. That total didn’t dismay Columbus coach Caleb Porter, who promised early in the year Santos would score five goals at least this season. His career-high in one season in any league is seven, and now that total is in play for the Designated Player.
Although they held a lead at the half, the Crew weren’t in a comfortable spot. David Guzman and Santos had both picked up yellow cards, and Seattle (9-5-5, 32 points) dominated possession. Columbus needed a strong start to the second half, but got just the opposite.
In the 56th minute, Guzman fouled Nicolas Lodeiro, who had been fouled heavily all game, in the box. The Sounders captain took his PK much like Santos did, and tied the game. Columbus was unable to find a response, and a win at home eluded them yet again.
The second half was also marred by a large scuffle late in the game after the Crew did not play the ball out when a Seattle player was down. Sounders players swarmed Columbus midfielder Artur, who went down. Santos then came flying in with a heavy push as more players got involved. Referee Chris Penso went to Video Review to sort everything out. Harrison Afful and Lodeiro were the only players to get carded.
Jul 6, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Pedro Santos (7) is congratulated by midfielder Luis Argudo (2) and defender Harrison Afful (25) afterr his glal against Seattle Sounders at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
With all the delays, nine minutes of added time were tacked on to the end of the second half. But that didn’t provide any assistance to Columbus, as Lodeiro got a brace from a header in the 96th minute, snatching a point away from a Crew team desperate for a first weekend win since April 6.
“It’s a long throw in. When you really think of how that goal is scored…we back head it to Lodeiro to just pop it in the back of the net,” Porter said. “That can’t happen at this level. You have to look at this mistake and there has to be accountability. We cant keep losing games that way…when you get guys who can’t make routine plays, we’re going to be in trouble…defenders that make it and are on top level teams make that play nine out of 10 times.”
Alex Crognale was the defender who headed the ball back to Lodeiro for the brace.
Porter’s criticism of the team wasn’t limited to the defense.
“We have to score more. We missed a two-yard shot. I don’t understand how that doesn’t go in the goal,” Porter said. “It’s harder to miss than make. There’s not enough composure. There’s not enough quality…we make mistakes that can’t happen at this level.”
Columbus’ next chance for a win is July 13 on the road against Orlando City SC.