Sunday, July 19, 2015

Special K Heads in the game-winner, yet Crew SC still searching for killer instinct

Crew SC forward Kei Kamara get's game-winning goal in 3-1
victory over Chicago Fire.
Photo courtesy of Sameh Fahmi/Studio 79
Columbus, Ohio – Delayed by rain and lightning for their first nationally televised match of the season, the Crew SC beat the visiting Chicago Fire 3-1 in front of a less-than full house.

This is a Chicago team that the Crew SC had just beaten four days previous in the Second City. This is also a Chicago team that sits dead last in the MLS table with 18 points and has yet to win an away match. To say that head coach Frank Yallop is fighting for his job would be an understatement.

Despite scoring on a penalty kick (earliest in MLS history) for the early lead at the 2’ mark, Columbus conceded an early goal (9’), yet again. This is still a disturbing trend in the play of the team as they ascend to second place in the Eastern Conference.

As I sit here post-match listening to The Devil in California’s “Sell Me a Reason”, I’m reminded of the fact that the Crew SC still doesn’t have that killer instinct that championship teams display. Playing the last place team should be a walk in the park, unless your passing is not crisp and you give the ball away. This happened with alarming frequency Sunday evening in Mapfre Stadium for Columbus.

Where do I go? Where do I run?
If I double back again, I might come undone…

The Fire’s Jason Johnson saw his second yellow card for a dubious embellishment in the early stages of the second half, leading to a red card and his being sent off. This should have led to domination by the home team. And yet, there were many times that they had to get goalkeeper Steve Clark involved to clear the ball upfield.

In essence, they were chasing the game. This is not to say that they played like complete poo, because they did not. The victory and the three points garnered vault them into second place in the conference standings. And yet, there is still something missing that convinces people that Columbus is on the upswing.

“I think there were a number of challenges,” said head coach Gregg Berhalter past-match. “The first thing is that it was the third game in nine days, so there was obviously fatigue. Both teams had fatigue but I think that led, overall, to the quality of the match.”

“But the second thing is,” he continued, “they had to reorganize and they had to figure out a way to stop us, and we wanted to be the proactive team, and it’s always harder to build than it is to destroy, and I’ve said that a lot. So it was challenging, and then battling the weather as well with it being pretty warm, I think it led to a number of factors.

The game-winning goal came at the 17’ mark as Special K, also known as forward Kei Kamara, leapt head and shoulders above the Chicago defenders in the box to head one home. He is the MLS leader with 14 goals scored of the Crew SC’s total of 31. And still, he ended up being a coach’s selection for the MLS All-Star Game on July 29.

Definitely it wasn’t our best,” said Kamara of the match. “At some point I even forgot we were a man up. I felt like Chicago was controlling the game a lot. But, again, it’s really good for us to come out of there with three points and multiple goals. Being at home, always, we have to take three points from those games. Doing it twice against Chicago back-to-back is definitely good for us.

Yes, the points are good. But do they portend good things for the team moving forward? They have a week of rest and training before hosting Toronto FC on Saturday, July 25. There is time to regroup and refocus their collective mindset ahead of that match.

Happiness comes in small does when you beat the worst team in the MLS. But, they earned six points over the last two matches, and that helps in keeping them above the playoff line.

The limits abound, there’s nowhere to be found. It’s where it begins, not where it ends, yeah…

Sell me a reason, indeed.

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