Thursday, June 6, 2013

Crew Rd 14: Meltdown

The Philadelphia Union scored in the 25th, 29th and 31st minutes during yesterday's match against the Columbus Crew. The game ended up at 3:0 but that short six minute flurry of goals is only part of the story.

MLS midweek matches bunched up near the US Open Cup can lead to some flat affairs and this one started out no different. Crew looked like a slightly slower version of their hyperactive previous two games and the Union soaked it up... just like the Crew's opponents in the last two games.

Difference this week was that Philly looked to have prepared well. Letting the Crew run all around until they made a mistake and then pounce on the counter.

25th: It worked for the most part. The first goal was set up by Matias Sanchez as he gave away a horrible pass to Philly's Brian Carroll. From there Carroll ripped off a 40 yard shot that deflected off of Eric Gehrig and in for a goal. Funny note here is that Carroll raised his hand knowingly right after the deflection.

29th: From a Le Toux corner, Carroll was able to flick it on to Williams for a flying sideways kick (technical term) goal. Meram was caught doing God-knows-what. By "God", I mean the one he facetiously mentioned having to pray too for more goals after last week's Houston match.

31st: Glauber and Tyson Wahl lazily played the ball to Le Toux who streaked down the sideline and got a good cross off to Connor Casey dome for the goal.

The final 15 minutes of the half saw a Crew side broken.

Lots of Changes for the Crew, particularly in defense. The starting back four of:

LB Wahl : CB Glauber : CB Gehrig : RB Barson


LB Barson : CB Glauber : CB George : RB Gehrig

All totaled, three positional changes and a subbed player. Grizzled soccer fans that go back to the old NASL days never even saw some thing like this.

It's immature behavior from the Crew coaching staff. Not only did they overreact, they also managed to embarrass the players and the entire organization.

Needless to say but the Crew just spun their wheels with this bizarre set of changes while Philly sort of played at half speed.

Eventually the game fizzled out.

Warzycha should face severe punishment from the organization for this. I realize this is Major League Soccer but to make changes like that is an absolute lunacy and borders on disrespecting the game itself. I wouldn't even dare do this playing a video game.

These are professional athletes. They were having a bad game. It happens.

Among the backline changes we also were treated to another sub, Ben Speas. Ben had a quiet half with 44 touches 27 passes (6 incomplete). Ben was somewhat curiously pulled for Aaron Schoenfeld. I had seen Ben play in the previous Reserve match, he seemed up to speed.

I believe Ben is being misused and under developed. He is more of a Central Midfielder than wide, where he is now placed, and the Crew can't seem to leave him in for a full 90 minutes.

Here is a summary of his starts with the Crew going back to last year:

Mins Played : Date : Game : Result
45 : 6/5/2013 : CLB @ PHI : L 0-3
65 : 4/20/2013 : CLB @ CHI : L 0-1
72 : 4/14/2013 : CLB @ MTL : T 1-1
85 : 4/6/2013 : PHI @ CLB : T 1-1
88 : 3/23/2013 : CLB @ DC : W 2-1
79 : 3/16/2013 : SJ @ CLB : T 1-1
90 : 3/9/2013 : CLB @ VAN : L 1-2
64 : 10/28/2012 : TOR @ CLB : W 1-2

In only one of those games did he finish a full 90 minutes. This can be frustrating for a player, even when injured.

What position was Justin Meram playing against Philly?

From a result perspective I don't put too much into heat maps. Sometimes players are asked to play all over the pitch. But in the case where you have two central defensive mids, seeing a right mid with a map like this raises an eyebrow and further confirms that he is a attacking player and not a midfielder (nor has he been trained properly).

I like Meram, but it does look like he was playing way out of position. It likely had an effect on Higuain, Speas, Sanchez, and Tchani. I confirmed Meram's more central roll over at ESPN FC as well...

What position is that? Now, here is Federico Higuain's heat map from the same data source. They appear to be playing in the same roll.

I'm probably digging too much into things here. The data before the three goals would be more valuable.

As for after the first of the three, what fans could see is a complete deflation of the squad and it highlights the fact that important leaders are missing in Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke and Eddie Gaven.

Recent results have put the Crew in a tough spot.

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