Crew SC had a sell-out crowd of 20,391 Saturday night at Mapfre Stadium and a visiting team in Atlanta United that had lost its last three road games.
It also had in its back pocket an emphatic win last Saturday over the Montreal Impact, one that took on the tone of a turning point for Crew SC.
Several elements were there for Crew SC to finish out a two-game homestand on a high note, save for the performance to match.
Atlanta’s Hector Villalba scored once in each half, and Crew SC failed to score at home for the first time this season in a 2-0 loss.
“I wasn’t happy with the performance. Not at all. Let’s not sugarcoat this,” coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It wasn’t our best performance, and on a night when we had a great crowd, we had a great opponent, we had an opponent that’s nipping on our heels (in the standings), this is where you go out and you show who you are as a group. And that’s why I’m disappointed with this performance.”
The loss was the Crew’s fourth in five games across all competitions, and a puzzling defeat after Crew SC’s best second half of the season against Montreal.
Crew SC (8-10-1) came out with some rhythm and momentum in the second half, holding more than 60 percent possession in the first two five-minute intervals and putting Atlanta United (8-7-3) on the defensive. The Crew also out-possessed Atlanta on the game but twice succumbed to the danger in little moments as it has so many times this season.
It took just two to put Saturday’s game out of reach.
In the 4-1 win over Montreal, Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen logged his first MLS assist.
On Saturday, the Crew fell victim to a goalkeeper assist, and it was the first of Alec Kann’s MLS career. In the 27th minute, Kann kicked long and center back Jonathan Mensah whiffed on a header, allowing Villalba to get behind the back line and score his seventh goal of the season.
Villalba collected a deflection in the box in the 64th minute then shot between the legs of Mensah and past goalkeeper Zack Steffen for the second of his two goals.
"I wasn't there today,” Mensah said. “We just need to put this behind us and look ahead. Keep working.”
Asked about Mensah’s performance, Berhalter said it is difficult for defenders to adapt to MLS. He also acknowledged that Crew SC, which leads the Eastern Conference in goals against with 32, has allowed too many goals this season.
On the other end, Crew SC finished the game with just one shot on goal. Midfielder Justin Meram hit a volley right at Kann in the 13th minute. He also twisted his ankle on the play and for a moment questioned whether he would be able to return.
Meram finished the game with mild pain, but Crew SC didn’t get another shot on frame for 77 minutes.
“It’s a game of inches,” Meram said. “We didn’t capitalize, and they did on half-chances.”
Source : http://www.dispatch.com/sports/20170701/atlanta-2-crew-0--crew-shut-out-at-home-for-first-time-this-season564