Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bradley, Toronto Drop Stale Crew 0-2

After going up early, Toronto dropped back and fought off relatively lifeless and predictable Crew side.

1ST HALF (0-1)
Columbus players didn't match the intensity of Toronto to start the match and paid for it in the 11th minute when US international Michael Bradley ripped through the middle of the Crew defense and drove a hard shot low and beat Steve Clark for a goal. Content with the lead, Toronto dropped back and kept the Crew in front of them all half.

It worked. Even with a Toronto side fielding a makeshift back four the Crew had no solution. The only shot on goal the Crew managed was a Josh Williams header on a set piece.

2ND HALF (0-1)
Presumably someone addressed the flat nature of the team in locker room because the Crew came out with energy. Didn't appear to change what coach Ryan Nelsen and Toronto were doing though. They kept Columbus from finding space atop the 18 yard box and in it, forcing the Crew outside to the flanks.

Isolating crosses into the box from outside the 18 yard box from the flanks the Crew just connected on 6 of 32. Waylon Francis, who appears more to be blindly crossing it in, was 0 for 7 from the wing area. A lot of this isn't on the cross generators, however. When playing with a lone forward in Oduro, you aren't going to connect on many.

Outside of that, the Crew had their chances. Gregg Berhalter was aggressive with his subs late on by taking off defensive players in hopes to crack the Toronto stronghold. Ultimately it didn't work and late on Toronto got an opening and put away the Crew via a goal by Issey Nakajima-Farran (Justin Morrow, assist).

• Gregg Berhalter and staff should be frustrated with this because it was a home match. More than half the league makes the postseason cup tournament and taking care of home matches is usually enough to get you there.

• I don't think Toronto did anything out of the norm to prepare for the Crew's updated possession style of play. What they did actually looked a lot like the Seattle match a few weeks ago. They got up - and dropped back.

• Crew made it easy for a Toronto back four (Justin Morrow and Mark Bloom played well at fullback with Nick Hagglund and Bradley Orr at CB) because there was no one to cross it to in the box. Oduro is more known for ducking under a player for a header than going up for one and he was really the only player the Crew had in the box. The size of the TFC defenders also made defending Crew set pieces a breeze.

• Oduro was't involved much at all but his presence did turn this 2014 Crew team into more of the 2013 version. The crowd loves to roar when the ball is played into space with him chasing it but, just like last year, more off than not it just gives possession back to the opposing side. We saw this a little bit last week as well. Old habits not going away.

• The way Toronto played exposed Crew scoring problems form open play (again, like last year). Just not a lot of options there.

• Michael Parkhurst had a busy week and likely contributed to his subpar performance.

• Emotional game last week in Seattle + a week full of pundits saying the Crew are the real deal probably didn't do this young team any favors.

• When the Crew got close to scoring, longtime Crew play by play man Dwight Burgess nearly broke my speakers a couple times with the type of guttural yell that comes from being personally invested in a team for two decades. I'm not a local Columbus born person, I understand the broadcast is for locals, but it will never be anything but locals with that type of thing.

• I know fans go back and forth on how they want announcers to be, however. It could be that I, myself, have been watching too much crew over the past four years and am too sensitive to it. That said, watching other broadcasts of MLS games (which I do quite a lot of, mind you) I don't get the same feeling.

• Announced attendance was only around 12k for this one which was a little surprising considering Michael Bradley was in town. Turns out the press were a lot more interested then fans. It looked about as full as the Philly game a couple weeks ago and that one was announced at 16k. My guess is actual turnstile for each was around 12-14k.

• Crew travel to San Jose next Sunday to take on the Earthquakes.

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