Takeaway Points: Sporting Kansas City
The Crew fell in its second consecutive match with Saturday's 2-0 home loss against Sporting Kansas City. Here are three things that stood out from the defeat:
1. COSTLY MISTAKES
In addition to Andy Gruenebaum's stellar goalkeeping, Columbus' sound defense has been one of the main bright spots of the 2012 season so far. However, two costly mistakes in a rearranged back line led to two Kansas City goals that put the Crew on the losing end Saturday night.
In the sixth minute, SKC's Jacob Peterson slipped past the Crew back line that was attempting to set an offside trap to receive a Peterson Joseph through ball to beat Gruenebaum and give the away team an early advantage.
"The play happened so fast." Josh Williams said after the match. "I thought (Jacob Peterson) was behind the defense. So, I tried to stay even with the line, but I guess he wasn't. It was a good ball through and a good finish."
Williams who started his first match at right back wasn't the only player in Black & Gold at a new position. Bernardo Anor got the nod at left back in place of Nemanja Vukovic. Searching for an equalizer in the 81st minute, Anor's pass was cut off by Sporting's Kei Kamara. The speedy forward then led a two-man counter that culminated in Teal Bunbury's nail in the coffin seconds later.
Despite the two costly errors, head coach Robert Warzycha thought the new-look defense showed promise.
"I think Josh (Williams) and Bernardo (Anor), other than the two mistakes, they played a good game," Warzycha complimented the two players after the loss. "With Bernardo against Kamara and Josh against (C.J.) Sapong, I think they had a good game."
2. DYNAMIC DILLY
The Crew attack got a boost in the 62nd minute when Dilly Duka entered the match for Jairo Arrieta. Right away, Duka posed a threat to the Kansas City defense, sending three crosses into the six yard box from the left flank. Unfortunately for Columbus, the Black & Gold couldn't put any of the chances created by Duka into the back of the net against the stingy SKC defense.
"I didn't think we deserved to be down a goal," Duka reflected post-match. "(SKC) had that one chance, and they finished. I came into the game, and I wanted to at least get a tie out of this. I was focused. We need points and this is a tough stretch. So right off the bat, I just wanted to go in and get in a tackle, or get a shot, or cross a ball."
Duka has been limited this season due to multiple hamstring injuries. The 22-year-old's presence in the Crew lineup will be key if the the team hopes to return to the MLS playoffs.
3. ARRIETA GETS FIRST TASTE OF MLS
Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta made his long-awaited debut for the Crew in Robert Warzycha's starting XI on Saturday night. Arrieta played 62 minutes, but due to Sporting's physical back line, Warzycha feels Arrieta never got the chance to show what he is capable of.
"It was a tough game against a very good team. I thought they marked (Arrieta) very well, (Matt) Besler and (Aurelein) Collin," Warzycha said of Arrieta's debut. "He didn't have too much room to show us what he can really do. In the first half, I don't think we had any flank play. We didn't put in any crosses. Maybe we just took care of the ball too much in the back and that's why we didn't create too many chances. So for him, if the ball is not getting in the box, he can't shine."
Warzycha will hope Arrieta can get acclimated to MLS quickly and be the striker that scored 45 goals in five seasons with Saprissa.