Columbus Crew SC Defensive Woes Persist in 2-1 Loss to San Jose

SAN JOSE, CA (August 6, 2017) – It was a weekend road trip out west to forget for Columbus Crew SC.

The Black and Gold dropped a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium Saturday. Goals from Marco Ureña and Chris Wondolowski helped the home team defend home turf and condemn Columbus to its 12th loss of the year.

Columbus Crew SC Defensive Woes Persist in 2-1 Loss to San Jose

Manager Gregg Berhalter stayed with three at the back for the fourth straight game. Jonathan Mensah returned to the lineup after serving a red card suspension in last week’s game at Real Salt Lake. Nicolai Naess made his second straight start after not appearing in the previous two matches.

Crew SC made a promising start to the game. The team put together a multitude of promising forays into the final third, only for the Quakes to continually deny anything substantive with stout defense. It included a decisive tackle won by Florian Jungwirth in dispossessing Kekuta Manneh 15 minutes in.

Things began turning San Jose’s way midway through the first half. In particular, the home side enjoyed a plethora of scoring opportunities from the corner flag. The Quakes took a grand total of ten corner kicks in the first half alone.

The breakthrough came in a much different fashion, on a breakaway as a result of a Crew SC defensive error. In the 42nd minute, Mensah lost the ball and fell to the ground in the process. After that, it was off to the races as Shea Salinas took the ball into the box. He found Ureña who dribbled past Alex Crognale and shot it past Zack Steffen. The ball caromed off the right post and into the net.

11 minutes after the halftime break, San Jose doubled the lead. It came off the foot of the Quakes beloved center forward Chris Wondolowski. The 34-year-old deftly deposited the ball into the upper part of the goal after a well-placed pass from the left by Tommy Thompson. The tally was Wondo’s ninth of the season.

Both goals highlighted the significant issues on defense that continue to dog Columbus. Mensah’s play is particularly troubling considering his status as one of the team’s two designated players. He fell flat on his face in the lead-up to the first goal and had Thompson dribble right by him on the second.

Former Quakes player Adam Jahn checked into the game for Crognale in the 74th minute. The El Macero, CA native, who spent his first four MLS seasons in San Jose, received a nice reception from the Avaya Stadium faithful. But it didn’t take him long to make them realize he plays for the other team.

After Columbus conceded a boatload of corners early on, they inevitably profited from one in the second half. Jahn found himself in the right place at the right time after Mensah headed down a Justin Meram corner. He easily placed it past David Bingham to cut the lead in half and register his first goal of 2017.

In the end, that late tally didn’t matter as San Jose defended their home turf and moved above the red line in the Western Conference. For Columbus, the loss doesn’t affect their standing in the playoff race. Regardless of what happens in this weekend’s remaining games, they’ll remain sixth in the East.

But the losses are piling up. Their 12 defeats up to this point is third worst in the league behind only Minnesota United and DC United. The good thing is that six of their next eight games are at home, giving ample opportunity to collect maximum points from games and ascend the standings.

Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium next Saturday for their first home game since July 22nd. They face their rival Chicago Fire, a team in the midst of a huge revival in 2017. Chicago will come into this game with the league’s second best record, trailing Toronto FC by just three points in the Supporters’ Shield standings. The match kicks off at 7:30 PM ET.

Embed from Getty Images