Thursday, June 5, 2014

Crew Remain Mystery, Draw RSL

Late goal salvages point for the Crew at home when they should have earned three.

1ST HALF (0-0)
Early in the match former Crew college draft pick Rich Balchan pulls down Austin Viana in the box and earns a penalty that Federico Higuain misses. Not long after Higuain appears to pull his hamstring, gets subbed before half.

A Josh Williams rip around the 20th is the only shot on target from either side. After these few events, the game continues on at a half speed pace till half.

2ND HALF (1-1)
Salt Lake hangs back for the opening minutes of the half before turning up the pressure on the Crew in search for a goal. After pushing the Crew back for about five full minutes RSL gets the breakthrough they were looking for when Luis Gil scores off a rebound from a Kenny Mansally shot from distance.

Nearly thirty minutes passed before the Crew started to apply pressure to RSL to pull it back, which they did when Ben Speas placed a beautiful and perfectly placed through ball to Ethan Finlay for a crafty chip that beat the goalkeeper for a goal.

FINAL (1-1)
The final stats (those shitty stats pundits talk about, not the ones I like) tell us that the Columbus Crew dominated this game. Plenty of shots (21!) and shots on target (7!!). Heck, check out what the mighty summed up the Crew events:

• Created a high number of chances relative to their possession
• Were effective at creating goalscoring opportunities from through balls
• Were effective at creating goalscoring opportunities from the flanks
• Were effective at creating goalscoring opportunities from set-pieces

Wow! No. Not really. Five of the Crew 7 shots on frame didn't come till the 75th minute. This game didn't have much of a pulse for long stretches. Even after RSL scored the Crew showed zero urgency. It had me thinking that the players were more concerned with holding to a system than getting after a win.

Old me might have thought poorly of that but I'm not so sure these days. Is it bad not to chase a goal directly after your opponent scores when you have 30 minutes to make it up? Depends, I guess. What we do know is that the Crew were doing most of the things right in possession but didn't have anything going up to, and 20 minutes after, the RSL goal.

It wasn't until an on fire Ethan Finlay and hungry Ben Speas warmed up to the match in sub roles that something magical happened to save a point. Well, mostly magical. After the goal Crew players and fans (including smoke from the Nordecke) acted like the team won the MLS Cup instead of grabbing the ball quickly in order to get the game restarted.

I try and keep up with Crew games by not only watching them but sitting down for a couple hours trying to sort them out. A good old fashioned postmortem, if you will (says the 13 year vet of manufacturing). I think it's vital to understanding the local team and the league as a whole. Usually, at least since 2011 when I started following closely, I have the Crew pegged by June. Even sorted out the Higuain signing.

This year? Still working on it. Results have been poor but the metrics say this team is in good (not great) shape even though they only have one win since starting the season off with three a million years ago.

So as site writer and Red Cards in Helltown colleague said... "with their position and goal difference, they have to be doing something right."

What that is? Not sure yet.

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