Soccer | Crew: Bad time for bad start

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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It’s hard to picture a worse start to the Crew’s busiest stretch this season. With four games scheduled for the next two weeks, including an exhibition, the Crew surrendered a season-high four goals in Saturday’s road loss to New York. Coach Gregg Berhalter called it the most disappointing defeat of the year and offered little in the way of positive reinforcement to his players as he has after other difficult losses. Expect several lineup changes for Wednesday’s game as the Crew processes exactly what went wrong against the Red Bulls.

Returns

The Crew defense had mostly held steady while Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis were playing for Costa Rica in the World Cup, but their absence was keenly felt against New York. Both players met the Crew after arriving in New York at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning and are expected to be fully available against Sporting Kansas City. Both have started every game while available and are expected to reclaim their spots, which means players like Eric Gehrig and Bernardo Anor figure to see their playing time cut. After his breakout performance for Costa Rica, however, it remains to be seen just how much longer the Crew will be able to retain Gonzalez.

Depth

Aaron Schoenfeld’s hot streak while playing for Dayton, the Crew’s affiliate in the United States League Professional Division, essentially forced Columbus to recall him. The timing could not have proved more vital. He and rookie Adam Bedell are the only true options at forward at the moment. Jairo Arrieta left Saturday’s game with a left hamstring strain. Bedell scored the lone Crew goal in the loss and Schoenfeld has one goal during his first two MLS seasons, but the lack of depth at forward is even more glaring given the trade of Dominic Oduro in early June. Berhalter is working to sign at least one forward during the summer transfer window, but any outside reinforcements are likely a few weeks away at best. If Arrieta’s injury is significant, Bedell and Schoenfeld must produce.

Out

The loss to New York included a move Berhalter hadn’t made all season — he pulled captain Michael Parkhurst. The former U.S. national team hopeful had played the entirety of every game he had started this season, but Berhalter replaced him with Tyson Wahl in the 59th minute with the Crew trailing 3-1. Asked if he was sending a message by yanking Parkhurst early, Berhalter said, “ Honestly, I don’t think we’re happy about anybody’s performance. It’s as simple as that.” Anor would later pick up a red card for kicking a ball that struck a New York player in the face after a whistle. “We need smart players,” Berhalter said. “We need guys who realize what helps the team and hurts the team, and it certainly hurts the team being down a man. I think we need to be smarter.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

League look

The hottest team in Major League Soccer right now entered the year in as bad shape as any other team in the league. After being sold to MLS in hopes of finding a new owner, Chivas USA defeated Vancouver 3-1 on Saturday to run its winning streak to four games and its unbeaten streak to five. The much-maligned second Los Angeles team broke a 1-1 tie with a pair of goals after a Whitecaps player was sent off. Erick “Cubo” Torres has now scored a goal in five straight games and is third in the league with 13 this season. The Goats were still seventh in the Western Conference pending last night’s Portland-Seattle game, but their six wins are already tied with their total for all of 2013.

Quotable

“You have a former one of the best players in the world, probably one of the best players in the league, you’d think that would give us at least alarm bells when he’s around the ball and he’s passing and moving and he’s in the box. I would think we’d want to be near him.” — Berhalter, on defending Thierry Henry, who had three assists and a goal against the Crew.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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