Sports News of Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Columbus Crew SC has a defensive problem, and it hasn’t been solved by their biggest offseason addition.
In a 2-0 loss to Atlanta United at home on Saturday, Columbus found themselves with a leaky defense yet again, allowing two goals and plenty of chances to an Atlanta team that has no problem capitalizing on the mistakes of defenders.
Involved in both goals was center back Jonathan Mensah, who completely missed a ball in the air to lead to the first goal and misplayed a cross on the second.
After the match, Mensah admitted he didn’t have his best game.
”I think I wasn’t there today — I was kind of tired,” he told reporters.
”The whole team also, we all felt short. This is not a time to point fingers. I personally know I wasn’t there today, but we just need to put this behind us and keep working.”
Mensah’s mistakes have been ongoing this season and have led to several goals.
The list includes explicit examples like his missed aerial duel with Alan Gordon in Colorado that lost Columbus the game, and a blatant penalty awarded because of a foul against Tosaint Ricketts in Crew SC’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Toronto FC.
Columbus sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter had a difficult time defending his marquee defender after the match on Saturday.
He said he needed to evaluate the game and “individual performances” before speaking on them. But when pressed about Mensah, he seemed to admit that his defender is struggling.
”It’s difficult for defenders to adapt to this league sometimes,” Berhalter said.
”What we’re doing is working with Jonathan to help him adapt. In general, I think at times it’s been very good and at times it hasn’t been so good. But I don’t think it’s different than [how] anyone on the back line has been playing.”
Columbus are still fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but must improve defensively to make a run.