Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crew Rd 20: Body Blow

Body blow. Gut punch. Liver shot. In boxing there can be punches to the gut so devastating that they short circuit everything in a fighter.

Columbus liked the look of the team that beat a 10 man Portland a couple weeks ago and stuck with it, only with the slight wrinkle that allowed a few players to exchange positions freely. Calling it "free flowing" would be a bit of a stretch but not entirely off the mark.

While not pretty, the philosophy saw Bernardo Anor, Konrad Warzycha, Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro all over the field (oftentimes, in the same area).

It was a nice change of pace to see more activity in the Crew midfield but New England's strong defense (tied in league with best GA average) didn't have much problem with it.

Opta tracked 10 shots for the Crew in the first half. 7 of them were blocked and the other three were off target (Anor would eventually be the only player to place a ball on target all night).

More of the same from both sides to start the half. In some regards the game deteriorated towards the middle of the half, almost as if players were unsure of their respective coaches desires to go for the Win or to settle for the Draw.

When New England brought in Lee Nguyen with 30 minutes left then Diego Fagundez for the remaining 20 minutes that changed. The Revs were hunting a win while Robert Warzycha wasn't making it clear to his players what he wanted.

And a win the Revs got with two goals in extra time. Nguyen assisting on both.

Crew looked like a team test driving a new formation/philosophy with a new group of players. It is difficult to get down on this type of change, considering table position at this point in the season. You have to change. The other philosophy was not working.

That leaves the Crew in a tough spot, though. Are they still pushing for the playoffs or implementing something new for the long term? There are signs that point to both but also signs that there is just more indecision. Throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

On performance side, Ben Speas (in sub role) played probably his best game yet. A lot of his technical abilities were on display as well as incredible effort. In one sequence he flung himself over the ad boards, another time slamming into them on the sideline.

So, what's this get him from the coaching staff?

"Perfect chance when [Dominic] Oduro passes the ball along the goal-line, if Ben [Speas] was in front of the defender like he was supposed to be, then he probably scores a goal. So that's what we need from the guys: read it, feel it, and then be in the places they are supposed to be." - Robert Warzycha, postgame.

I get what he is trying to say but this highlights exactly why so many players speak out in frustration with this team (Cole Grossman, Will Hesmer, Rich Balchan, Aaron Horton, Dilly Duka, the preseason Grant Wahl player survey... to name a few).

Oduro didn't have a particularly good game. Nobody did (including his the Head Coach's son, who was probably the weakest link last night). Seeking out a young player (on a team of young players) as a target for frustration like that is petty, childish and inexcusable.

This team has taking a lot of punches to their core all year. Poor results, questionable management decisions early on, injuries, handing out white flags to fans with a stolen slogan modified to fit a beer sponsors name...

Of course the season marches on but last night's result was a short circuiting liver shot to the season.

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