A Crew opponent takes a corner kick and lofts the ball toward the six-yard box. While players jostle for position as the ball sails toward them, an opposing player makes a run towards the net at the last second. Left completely unmarked, he easily deposits the ball into the net for a goal. We have seen an opponent do this time and again this season. The Crew’s issues defending set pieces are well-documented and reared their head again Saturday night when Philadelphia scored their only goal in a 1-1 draw. After the game, head coach Wlfried Nancy told the Columbus Dispatch,
“At the end of the day, we cannot concede a corner like this. We have to be better.”
Are you as tired of hearing this kind of reaction from Nancy as I am? Yes, they have to be better. But in order to be better, the source of the problem must be identified. Considering the team has played thirty-one regular season games to this point, plus three more in the Leagues Cup, I can only put the blame on Nancy and his staff for the continued failure to defend set pieces. Either the strategy being used is not working or the message to the players on how to make it work effectively is not getting through. Either way, Nancy must stop saying they have to be better and begin making changes. The Crew will not go deep into the playoffs if this continues.
Now, before you start typing a nasty message to me, please know I’m a big fan of Nancy. I love what he’s done this season. The team is returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2020 and are one of the most exciting teams to watch in MLS. My wife and I enjoy the Crew so much, we’ve become 2024 season ticket holders. But as much as I like what Nancy has done, I feel the majority of the problem with defending set pieces must be placed on him at this point. He simply must do a better job of coaching in this area.
Nancy and his team are back at it Wednesday night on the road at New England in another important battle for playoff seeding. The Crew trails the Revs by two points for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.