It was a frustrating result for the Black and Gold considering a result was certainly there for the taking. And it has little to do with Zack Steffen’s passing error that precipitated Nemanja Nikolic’s game-winning goal.
Columbus looked dangerous in the final third throughout the entirety of the 90 minutes. From Pedro Santos’ third minute attempt that narrowly missed opening up the scoring early to the two hit posts in the second half by Gyasi Zardes and Mohammed Abu, it’s not hyperbole to say that Crew SC left three points on the table.
The stats reinforce this fact. Crew SC outshot the Fire 20-6 and created 12 chances compared to Chicago’s 4. But 90 percent of those shots were off target, with Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez only forced to make two saves.
It’s the story of this season so far, at least during this current two-game skid. If Columbus wants to snap out of it at D.C. United on Saturday, finishing the high number of chances they’re creating is paramount.
Columbus Crew SC Stats Breakdown: Finishing Chances Key to Erasing Current Winless Run
Though Columbus has played more games than 18 of the 23 teams in the league, the club is generating a fair amount of action around the opponent’s goal. Their 56 chances created and 79 total shots are both fourth in MLS. Yet they’re currently 15th in shots on target per game with four.
Federico Higuaín is his usual creative self, ranking seventh in chances created per 90 among players who’ve logged at least 300 minutes up to this point in the season. Zardes already has four goals in 2018 and needs just three more to exceed his regular season totals from the previous three seasons. Even Santos finally opened his account with the club in the first meeting against D.C. in Columbus on March 24th.
Things looked peachy four games in. Crew SC had eight goals, was undefeated and at the top of the MLS table. In the two games since, they have a single tally on 30 shots and 19 key passes. That means they converted just 3.3 percent of their shots and 5.2 percent of their chances created into goals against Chicago and the Vancouver Whitecaps. It’s no surprise, then, that they’ve dropped both games.
A Graphical Look at Crew SC’s Goal-Scoring Efficiency Relative to Other MLS Teams in 2018
It’s also not too shocking that they’ve dropped towards the middle of the pack in MLS when it comes to goal-scoring efficiency. A good way to measure this is calculating the percentage of shots and chances created that result in goals. Want to know how effective these stats are in evaluating the success of a given club? Toronto FC led the league in converting both into goals en route to their first MLS Cup.
Here’s how things stack up so far.
Crew SC is slightly below average in both categories. That certainly wasn’t the case before the current losing streak considering the abnormally low conversion rate against Vancouver and Chicago. For the club to return to winning ways, they also need to return to efficient ways when it comes to converting shots and chances into goals.
This team is certainly capable of much more in the way of attacking quality than the above graphics indicate. Few sides in MLS boast as many game-changers in the final third. Higuaín is at the point in his Crew SC career where he continues to reach milestone after milestone in club history. Zardes is rediscovering his goal-scoring touch after he lost it over the past few seasons. All it requires is others step up while the aforementioned two keep it up.
The first chance to do so is this weekend as the Black and Gold ship sails into Annapolis, MD. With D.C.’s new home, Audi Field, still under construction, Saturday’s game takes place at the home of the U.S. Naval Academy’s college football team. And if Crew SC’s ability to finish chances returns, they may indeed sink the Black and Red for the second time this season.