Embarrassed. Ugly. Awful. Those three words came to mind as Tuesday night’s playoff match came to a close. The Crew got embarrassed in an ugly loss to Atlanta United that was awful to watch.
A Tale of Two Teams
Facing elimination, Atlanta played like a desperate team and took it to their opponent. The Crew played like a team that had some breathing room to work with and looked flat. After possession was almost dead even for the first part of the match, Atlanta turned up the wick and pressured the Crew each time they got the ball and made it difficult for them to make it out of their own end. The Five Stripes controlled the pace, won the vast majority of battles for loose balls, and generally ran the Crew off the field.
Everything Old Is New Again
Through the first two-thirds of the season, the Crew had issues on defense and managed just ten points in eleven games on the road. Leading up to Tuesday night, the defense had conceded just six goals in six games and had come away with eight points in half a dozen road games. Both of those areas seemed to have greatly improved over the last two months. Then came Match 2 with Atlanta and Crew reverted to the team they were for those first 23 games. Watching them play defense in Match 2 was absolutely painful. As the game progressed, Atlanta had one great scoring opportunity after another. That 4-1 score is misleading because it could have been much worse. Wilfried Nancy said his team was not aggressive and spent too much time backpedaling. They also looked like they spent an awful lot of time watching the ball and not being aware of the offensive players around them. It’s been a while since we saw a road performance like this.
Is There A Silver Lining?
After getting boat raced, I expect the Crew to show up at Lower.com Field Sunday night laser focused with a chip on their shoulder. I think you’ll see a team wanting to show what you saw in Match 2 is not who they are. A loss like this can be easier to put behind you than one that is close. There’s a lot of “what if” thinking after a tight loss. Not so in a blowout. Figure out what you need to do better, work to correct it, and get ready for the next game. I have no doubt a loss like this will lead to a Crew team with a much different mentality for Match 3.
Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team and congratulate them on a job well done. Atlanta was the better team in Match 2 by far. Time to move on and get ready for Sunday.