Columbus Crew captain Jonathan Mensah takes ownership of his poor defense


Back-to-back losses in which they conceded four goals in each game have yet to cause complete panic for the crew.

But the team’s direction is as uncertain as it has been all season after two inexplicable defensive performances.

Team captain Jonathan Mensah said he and the defense would improve after allowing four goals in each of the last two games.

After unforced errors roughly gifted DC United (7-7-3, 24 pts) a 4-2 win on Wednesday night at Field to tie with the Crew (6-5-6, 24 pts) in the Conference Is standing at the midpoint of the season, captain Jonathan Mensah was keen to let it be known that what had happened in the last two games – individually and collectively – would not happen again.

“It can’t happen. Two games, we’ve conceded eight goals. It’s not us. We know we can do better,” Mensah said. “I didn’t show up today. As (captain) I have to introduce myself. I need to lead. I did it and I know I can do it again. I’m just going to leave that behind. me and keep working.

Column:The team has allowed eight goals in two games. Where are their helmets?

Widely accepted as one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer, Mensah has played a few very expensive and very unusual matches against DC United.

Led 2-0 in the second-half stoppage time, Mensah was reckless with the ball just outside the crew’s penalty area. He made a touch as he was about to pass the ball and gave it to Kevin Paredes, who Mensah then grabbed by the waist. Paredes fell and received a penalty, and Ola Kamara converted just before half-time.

Mensah’s mistake wasn’t the only one to blame for the loss, though it was perhaps the costliest given the crew scored the next two goals.

Center-back Aboubacar Keita made a similar mistake in the 19th minute for the opening goal. Waylon Francis struggled most of the night and failed to score his man on Yordy Reyna’s goal in the 40th minute. The whole team was to blame for not killing a 74th minute counterattack to make the game 4-2.

But as the backbone of the defense, the Crew captain knows he needs to play at a high level for the rest of the backline to succeed.

“Overall it hasn’t been there, and individually myself I am raising my hand,” Mensah said. “I haven’t been good. I need to lift her. When I set the tone, the team follows. I need to do better. I know the other guys know that too.”

In two games, the Crew went from second best in MLS in goals against to eighth best, dropping a total of 20. Problems against New York City FC only snowballed on Wednesday night. , and it happened against a team with at least seven regular starters.

There is nothing that needs to change tactically, said Crew coach Caleb Porter. Becoming a leading defense again means not transforming one mistake into several.

August 4, 2021;  Columbus, Ohio, United States;  Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter appeals to the referee after a foul on midfielder Luis Diaz (12) by DC United in the second half at Field.  Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“Really, what I have to watch is why are we making big mistakes,” Porter said. “So from there, why do we keep putting our heads down and giving up the second, third and fourth goals?” From there, our psychology and mentality must be stronger.

Whether the crew’s defense can reset against Atlanta on Saturday will depend on Mensah’s performance.

“We lost two in a row. That doesn’t mean all of a sudden we’re a bad team, “Mensah said.” We’re still a good team, but we just need to clean up some things. “

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Inside: Best takeaways from crew loss. XC

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