Stagnant First Half Dooms Crew
Robert Warzycha knew his defense would have its hands full against the explosive Red Bull attack of Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper.
However, he didn’t expect his defense to collapse just a few minutes into Saturday’s match against New York as Kenny Cooper out-muscled the Crew’s Eric Gehrig to slide a left-footer past Andy Gruenebaum in the third minute for his first goal of the afternoon. Cooper wasted little time scoring his second tally just ten minutes later as a deflected ball found the striker in the six-yard box to head it out of Gruenebaum’s reach and into the net.
"I think those were probably rookie mistakes that we made (defensively) on the first goal and the second goal,” Warzycha said in his postgame press conference. “That put us on out heels in the beginning. We tried to go forward and tried to pressure, but (New York) was always finding a way to get out of the pressure we put on them.”
“We didn't come out with any energy. We just came out flat,” Crew center back and Captain Chad Marshall reflected on the defeat. “We didn't match (the Red Bulls') intensity. We didn't get pressure to them at all. They could do whatever they wanted to and we had nothing going offensively. It was the perfect storm of things against us.”
There was no looking back for the Red Bulls as Henry netted his sixth goal in three matches on a counterattack in the 40th minute. Henry struck again in minute 90 to give New York a 4-1 advantage just after the reset following Marshall’s head goal from a Kirk Urso corner kick.
Coming off consecutive clean sheets, Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum is taking ownership of the 4-1 loss.
“We came out flat. There’s really no excuse for it at home,” Gruenebaum said. “It starts with me and I think the energy has to be better from the get-go.”
Despite Columbus’ dismal first half performance, there were positives to be taken from the defeat. Dilly Duka returned from a hamstring injury to come on for Bernardo Añor in the 57th, giving the Crew attack a boost off the bench.
Rookie Ethan Finlay also created quality chances for the Crew to respond in the second half.
"(Duka) came on very strong, and Ethan (Finlay) also,” Warzycha said of his substitutes. “(Finlay) had one chance to score a goal and he created another one with a slide tackle to get it to Emilio (Renteria). I think (Duka and Finlay) did a lot.”
Duka’s performance Saturday could earn him a spot back in the starting eleven next week as the Crew heads to Philadelphia to face the winless Union.