Sunday, June 23, 2013

Crew Rd 16: The Best Crew've Got

From the final 2:1 scoreline, to the trade the Crew made putting the three key players in this match on their respective teams... The Chicago Fire beat the Columbus Crew in just about every imaginable way possible.

As they have in recent weeks, Columbus came out playing well. At this point it's almost like a 'shock and awe' maneuver that the Crew do. To it's credit, it has worked in consecutive weeks. Dominic Oduro was able to draw a penalty on the Fire's Sean Johnson in the 6th minute and Federico Higuain put it away and put the Crew up 1:0 very early.

"I felt good in the game, even after that we had good confidence. We came into halftime, we talked about it and the team never gave up. The game is 90 minutes and we found another way." - Fire HC Frank Klopas

Staying true to form with last weeks Montreal game the Crew did not continue to pressure and dropped deep into defense. As the half wore on the Fire found some rhythm.

Columbus came out of the halftime break in a similar mode, perhaps in expectation that they could withstand the Fire onslaught the same as they did the week prior.

"We needed to combine through the middle, we needed to play combinations, we needed to move the ball quicker – especially from side to side and get the ball to Dilly [Duka] wide in the channels. Once we get it there and he’s [Duka] on the field and we’re getting defenders one-on-on under pressure." - Fire HC Frank Klopas on halftime changes.

Chicago decided to attack the right side of the Crew's defense that was currently occupied by rookie Chad Barson. It paid off for them. MLS veteran Joel Lindpere was able to work in crosses twice past Barson who was not playing more than a few feet away from him. Both times, once to Dilly Duka and another to Mike Magee, were goals on back post runs.

Josh Williams could have probably done better but if you (Barson) are giving someone of Lindpere's quality and experience that much space and time to whip in a cross, I don't care who is playing in defense at the end of it. It's going to connect, it's going to go in.

From here the Crew seemed unable to quickly transition out of the defensive type mode and into an attacking one. Eventually they did and got off some excellent chances but Johnson was up to the task. Game over.

"...they’ve never given up, even through the slow start and adversity, there’s always been a belief in the team. The team is the most important thing with the group and you can see that no matter what happens, there are no regrets and they’ll leave everything on the field." - Fire HC Frank Klopas

Klopas with fans at 2 AM
This game against Chicago was completely different from the Crew's early league match up in which the Fire won 1:0. Columbus looked lethargic and played uninspired during that game and Chicago was scrambling to find their feet.

Yesterday was two clubs in midseason form. It was Chicago at their best vs. Columbus at theirs. Chicago won. Is it a case of one team being more talented? I don't necessarily think so. Both Klopas and Warzycha have faced off enough times with completely different rosters and in different competitions over the years and Klopas usually comes out on top.

Even this year the Fire have beaten the Crew three times already in two different competitions.

“You know what? I saw it go in the back of the net and then I just looked at my players and was like, ‘we’re back in this’. I didn’t try to celebrate or anything, I didn’t care, I just wanted to get these points." - Dilly Duka, Fire Midfielder and Man of the Match.

Columbus travels to Kansas City next weekend to take on Sporting KC. Each game for the Crew here on out has to be looked at as a necessary 3 points in order to climb back in to the playoff hunt.

I wrote lots of words on Dilly Duka shortly before his trade away from Columbus over at Massive Report. After spending some time going back through that I am happy for him in the way this game played out. It has been a long 18 months for him. You can read that HERE.

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