Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Damp Type Cold

The first home match for the 2014 Columbus Crew was March 22 against the Philadelphia Union. The Crew ended up winning off a brace from Bernardo Anor but in all reality it probably should have ended even. I was in attendance for this match to get a look at what the team is trying to do, at least in the early going this season.

It was a typically cold, windy March evening in the mid-west at Crew Stadium. Twist on this evening was that it was also damp. That makes for special kind of cold. A chill to the bone that one can only experience in certain parts of the country, at certain times and at certain outdoor sporting events. I thought of a number of newcomers starting this game for the Crew... Giancarlo Gonzalez, Waylon Francis, Michael Parkhurst and Hector Jimenez among them.

But, Steve Clark. He was one I kept a close eye on. I have a special respect for US born players that are willing to look outside their comfort zone. Clark started 90+ games in Norway. I felt there must be something comforting about that fact. Maybe Clark has developed a special layer of insulating skin to protect him from colder temps. Goalkeepers can be a mysterious group. Maybe that is the difference tonight. Something worth full points now but will be forgotten to time that maybe should be remembered.

Clark ended up saving three and letting one get by. That's about average for MLS keepers, so the numbers say. That's all the Crew needed to get three points. But the numbers don't account for a bone chilling, damp mid-western breeze in late March.

Fans note that this match was the first time the Crew started a season with two wins. Hard to believe considering they are one of the originals. Not hard for me to believe considering the weather in Ohio during the first month of the season. It's cold.

In this Philly game, Jack McInerney found enough space in the 18 to bury over half the keepers in the league many times over. Clark's positioning was excellent. McInerney was traded to Montreal a little over a week later. Had he finished one or two in Columbus the story would have been much different.

The Crew went on to win another one in rain Seattle the next week, setting the bar higher at three wins to start the season. Columbus finally picked up their first loss the next week at home against a Michael Bradley led Toronto FC.

Temps were on the cool side, but pretty mild for this time of year in Ohio.

Source Image Credit: Mar 22, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark (1) passes the ball in the first half of the game against the Philadelphia Union at Crew Stadium. The Columbus Crew beat the Philadelphia Union by the score of 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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