A familiar theme reared its ugly head in the Wizards’ 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on Sunday.
It goes a little something like this: The Wizards come out and rack up tons of scoring chances. In a departure from last season, they even outshoot the opposing team. And they appear to be headed toward a win – only they don’t.
Yep, the Wizards have pretty much mastered that formula for mediocrity this season. And after the Wizards outshot the undefeated Crew 18-7 (including 6-2 on goal) and still managed to drop to 2-4-2 on the season before an announced crowd of 10,385 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, the frustration was evident.
“I’d rather us create one chance in the game and score and win 1-0, then create ten chances and lose 1-0,” said midfielder and team captain Davy Arnaud. “We’re playing well, but at the end of the day it’s about us getting the result. Bottom line.”
The loss not only stretched the Wizards’ winless streak to six games, it also marked the third consecutive game they have outshot their opponent and still managed to come away with a tie or worse.
“It seems like it’s the same story,” Arnaud said. “We create the chances and we’re hitting the post or just missing wide.”
That was definitely the case in the first half, when the Wizards outshot Columbus 7-4. After Columbus, 6-0-2, failed to capitalize on the first good scoring chance of the game – Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made a terrific save on a shot by midfielder Eddie Gaven from point-blank range – the Wizards responded with three of their own:
•In the 18th minute, midfielder Graham Zusi leaves the ball for forward Teal Bunbury, who maneuvers around a defender and unleashes a shot that Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer had to dive to stop.
•In the 23rd minute, Bunbury won a ball around midfield and left it for Zusi, whose line drive blast from several yards out sailed just over the goal.
•In the 30th minute, Wizards defender Jonathan Leathers sent in a dangerous cross to Arnaud, who was called for a handball on the play and later had a blast just before halftime sail left of the goal.
And the good scoring chances kept coming for the Wizards, who took five shots in the in the second half before Columbus scored a goal on its first shot in almost 25 game minutes.
The goal came on a set piece in the 64th minute, as reserve forward Emilio Renteria – who had just entered the game five minutes earlier – headed home a beautiful corner kick by star forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto to give the Crew a 1-0 lead.
The Wizards kept accumulating chances – they outshot Columbus 6-2 from that point on – but the defensive-minded Crew never cracked.
“We didn’t hit the goal (enough),” said Wizards coach and technical director Peter Vermes, who added that his team didn’t force Hesmer to make enough saves.
And while the Wizards’ next game – a road tilt on Saturday against defending MLS champion Real Salt Lake – looms large on the schedule, the fact the Wizards had all of those scoring opportunities against Columbus and failed to cash in before Columbus took a lead was the only thing on Arnaud’s mind during the latter part of a sun-drenched, humid Sunday afternoon.
“When you give up the first goal – especially on a day like today, when it’s (hot) and hard to do a lot – they are going to play defensively and push a lot guys behind the ball, just like every team that comes here.“It’s the same story,” Arnaud continued. “We have to figure it out.”