Gregg Berhalter laid most of this one at his own feet.
Tonight, the Crew suffered a 1-0 loss to Vancouver. It dropped the Crew to 3-4-3 overall and 1-2-2 at Crew Stadium, and also marked its third straight shutout loss. After a third game in seven days, Berhalter said he should have done more to change the Crew's lineup.
"I think the guys are running on fumes," he said. "You could see the difference. It was clear. (Vancouver) had a bunch of players who were fresh and running around and we didn't have it, physically. In one way I'm disappointed but in another way the guys gave everything they had and that just wasn't enough today.
Gregg Berhalter laid most of this one at his own feet.
Tonight, the Crew suffered a 1-0 loss to Vancouver. It dropped the Crew to 3-4-3 overall and 1-2-2 at Crew Stadium, and also marked its third straight shutout loss. After a third game in seven days, Berhalter said he should have done more to change the Crew’s lineup.
“I think the guys are running on fumes,” he said. “You could see the difference. It was clear. (Vancouver) had a bunch of players who were fresh and running around and we didn’t have it, physically. In one way I’m disappointed but in another way the guys gave everything they had and that just wasn’t enough today.
“If I’m critical of anything, it’s my team selection of not rotating more guys and getting fresh legs in there. To me, that was clearly the difference. They were just more physical and able to run more than we were.”
It’s a refreshing kind of candor from a professional coach, but it’s not all that reassuring. Five players played the entirety of last Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City, Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Houston and today’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver: goalkeeper Steve Clark, defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst and Waylon Francis and forward Federico Higuain. In addition, forward Jairo Arrieta played all but eight minutes in those three games.
At Friday’s training session at the Crew’s facility in Obetz, Berhalter expressed concern about fatigue levels for his players, particularly his outside backs. The plan was to have serious conversations with guys about their fitness before deciding who would play against the Whitecaps.
After the game, Berhalter said, “You rarely get players who are going to tell you, ‘No coach, I’m not ready. I think that we tried to have serious conversations. Guys wanted to play and they wanted to make up for the game in Houston. Unfortunately they didn’t have it physically to be able to do that.”
Wil Trapp returned to the lineup after being suspended for the Houston game, but the only other change was to replace Dominic Oduro with Hector Jimenez on the right side of the midfield. Jimenez missed the Dynamo loss with a calf injury and went 63 minutes tonight before being subbed off for Oduro.
Through 10 games, Berhalter has used four different lineups. In all, he has made eight changes to the starting lineup, the majority of which have been due to either suspension or injury. Bernardo Anor gave way to Justin Meram on April 26 against New York due to suspension and returned to the lineup in the next game (May 4 at SKC), while Wil Trapp was replaced by Agustin Viana against Houston while serving his own suspension before returning to the lineup tonight.
In addition, Jimenez was unavailable against the Dynamo due to injury but reclaimed his starting spot tonight at Oduro’s expense.
The result has been an 0-4-3 stretch, which is tied for the second-longest winless streak in Crew history since the league did away with shootouts, but Berhalter is not pushing the panic button.
“I think that we’re not at a stage where we’re examining are these the right players or is this the right system,” he said. “We’re not at that stage. We believe in this group and it’s a good group and we’re going to improve and get better. I think today was byproduct of extreme fatigue and having to play a third match in seven days and the travel and the weather and the conditions and everything.”
Not surprisingly, Berhalter said rest is atop the Crew’s list of needs before next Saturday’s road game against Portland.
“It’s recovery right now,” he said. “A lot of guys played a lot of minutes in the last seven days and it’s about getting away, getting away from the game for a couple days and resting and healing their bodies. That’s the priority right now, and then have a good full week of training.”& lt; /p>
And perhaps to make some changes to the lineup.
The Crew has now gone 321 minutes without a goal, and that was on an Arrieta penalty kick. The Crew’s last goal from the run of play came in the 90th minute of the April 19 1-1 home draw with D.C. United, which means it has been 360 minutes since the team’s last run of play goal.
“It’s just a matter of going back to certain basics that we were doing before,” Oduro said. “The ideas are there; we just have to implement them. The whole Gregg formation is a whole work in progress. In the beginning it was working OK. I think teams didn’t know how we were playing and now they’re cutting into it a little bit. That’s something we’ve got to work on.
“The talent is there. We have amazing players. The bench is stacked. It’s just a matter of having a couple of bad runs right now and that’s it. It’s not that we’re a bad team. no, we’re a great team. We just have to go back and fix it and we should be fine. We’ve played well. Even the games that we’ve lost, we dominated. This game was off a little bit but we still played OK.”
After missing his first game since first breaking into the lineup July 7, 2013 against the Timbers, Trapp returned against the Whitecaps.
“It’s never fun to sit and watch, but I think it was nice to be back out there,” he said. “ Unfortunate with the loss tonight but we can take a lot of things away from this game. I think we just need to get back to the basics of what made our team good.”
Berhalter said the return of the team’s vice captain was important.
“Wil is a good player,” he said. “He’s vice captain for a reason. He means a lot to the team on the organizational side of it. It’s important to have him back, and (Viana) did a good job when he came in.”
Trapp also had a dangerous shot in the 87th minute that was deflected.
Although the scoreless streak continues, Ethan Finlay provided a boost when he came in for Josh Williams in the 77th minute. He finished with two shots, second only to halftime substitution Meram (three).
After being buried on the depth chart during the early portion of the preseason, Finlay has seen 73 minutes of action across six appearances and generated six shots including three on goal.
“He gives us a spark when he comes in,” Berhalter said of Finlay. “He’s done this not just in this game. I remember the Toronto game when he hit the post. He has that ability and for him it’s maybe about the consistency, getting that more often, but he’s certainly an offensive spark for us. He’s got very good quickness and he’s very good 1v1. I think he had a positive impact on the game today.”