Sunday, June 7, 2009

6/7/09: Team Effort As Crew Moves Up Standings


Celebrate moving up the standings. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Schelotto netted two more goals, to take his total to eight and tie him with Conor Casey for the scoring lead in MLS. Schelotto's goals gave the Crew a 2-0 victory and balooned them up to a three way tie for third place. But, it wasn't easy and took a team effort.

Near the end of the game, Kansas City threw everything but the kitchen sink and the machete at Columbus. Emmanuel Ekpo and Steven Lenhart had to defend in the box for the last twenty minutes. Greunebaum came up big in the 73rd minute, the Wizards may have had a lot of shots but that was the first that seriously tested the Hebrew Hammer. Then a shot by Josh Wolff riddled off of the crossbar in the 79th minute. A constant barrage of ineffective attacking by the Wizards led to nothing for the last 15 minutes. All of this combined would lead most Crew observers to realize that for whatever reason the soccer gods were back on our side and there was just no way that the Wizards would score.

The defense was solid. The team effort on defense was exceptional with almost no one slacking on their duties, even forwards. Brunner & Zayner were and have been fantastic filling in on the backline. With injuries and national team call ups, both have made that spot theirs for now and the immediate future. Excellent job by them, especially with Chad Marshall(considered the best defender on the team by most) ejected with over 30 minutes left in the game for a nut shot on a KC player. Hey, if some offensive player hugged me in the box when I was trying to clear, I would have given him a knee as well.

However, with the Marshall red card in mind, I don't think the Crew will have much to worry about on the Marshall out for next week's Chivas game front. If Moffat is back... If Moffat is back then the Crew can slide O'Rourke back to central defense, have Brunner pretend to be Marshall as they both have the same type of frame and play a similiar game, then place Moffat in defensive midfield. That would be preferred. However, if Moffat isn't ready to go, then I believe Iro has to be ready and if so then place Iro back in central defense with Brunner and leave O'Rourke at defensive mid.

Speaking of O'Rourke. He did an excellent job last night of getting underneath the skin of Davy Arnaud, especially early in the game. O'Rourke has been playing the defensive midfield fantastically over the last two games. I'm not sure if he is as good of a distrubutor as Carroll, but O'Rourke has been much better physically, imposing his will on that area. Very Gattuso-esque.

Another player I was impressed with last night was Emmanuel Ekpo. Ekpo not only had pinpoint perfection crosses and made good decisions for the great portion of the game offensively, but Ekpo also came back and made a couple of huge defensive plays. One that comes to mind was when Claudio Lopez was free for an excellent crossing opportunity in the first half. But, Ekpo snuffed it out, stole the ball, and then was fouled in the corner of the field by Lopez. Ekpo was on last night and he didn't slack on any of his defensive duties, but excelled.

A player that was not on last night was Robbie Rogers. His crossing in the first half was rather embarrassing. Rogers got it together near the end and alleviated some pressure late in the game, but he could learn some crossing from Emmanuel Ekpo. Ekpo had pinpoint switch crosses out to Rogers, but Rogers was crossing like Frankie Hejduk in the first half. The Crew missed about three solid opportunities in the first half because of it. And, only the fact that the soccer gods were on our side allowed us to get away with it.

Additionally, if I had to pick the better winger at this moment, it would be Ekpo. But, Rogers will just have to fight through it as even a 50% percent Rogers starts every game over Grendi or Nyazamba. Just needs to work on his crossing and pump himself up to take defenders on more. Rogers best play was a run where he blazed past three KC defenders late in the first half. He needs to do more of that, he has the ability to, just not the confidence yet this year to do it. He will get there.

Another player I wasn't too impressed with last night was Pat Noonan. Didn't make the most of his opportunity, didn't build on his impressive assist in Seattle. Didn't bust his ass to 50/50's. Didn't guarentee to the coaching staff that he is worthy of his salary. If the Crew has some amazing plan to get Palermo(probably doubtful), I wouldn't be choked up with Noonan on the chopping block after that performance.

Other than them. The rest of the team played some exceptional soccer including Greunebaum who picked up his first clean sheet. And, both Noonan and Rogers had their moments, they didn't do anything to put their team's victory in jeapordy.

Men OTM: I'm giving it to four people. Brunner & Zayner are going to get %50 percent of the MOTM just because they are doing an exceptional job filling in(not playing like rookies at all), Guillermo gets %30 percent because he might be the 20 goal scorer we were looking for :-), amazing how he reinvents his game and is now the highest scorer in MLS, and Greunebaum for his awesome save in the 73rd minute and a solid performance in front of his hometown gets %20 percent.

Overall ranks:
Grenebaum- 9. First clean sheet, awesome save in the 73rd minute, made himself a big guy in the nets.
Zayner- 9. Tough task on the road. Growing into the position, looking better each week. Slowly becoming extremely reliable as a replacement for Frankie.
Brunner- 9.5. What can you say. What seemed like just an addition on the bench that might pan out, plays instead like a solid veteran and a Marshall clone in regards to not making mistakes and build.
Padula- 9. Nothing amazing, just played his position as solid as he usually does.
O'Rourke- 9. Was a pest in defensive midfield. All over Arnaud, very Gattuso-like.
Rogers- 6. Couldn't cross in the first half, didn't make the best decisions with multiple options on the attack.
Gaven- 8.25. Good defending near the end and helpful in the attack.
Ekpo- 9. Great passing, defended, made good decisions offensively.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto- 9.5. What can you say. Went from the big assist man to the big scoring man. Guillermo! Guillermo! Guillermo!
Noonan- 6. Didn't build on his assist in Seattle.

4 comments:

  1. Why not gives Burns a start? I didn't get to watch the San Jose game that he played in, but if O'Rourke gets pushed back to center back, then why not give him a go if Moffat and Carroll aren't ready to go?

    Marshall is a cheeky bastard. Too bad he isn't cheeky enough. =)

    O'Rourke has been the ultimate utility man for us. Very valuable even if his first few games this season were subpar.

    Rogers will NOT be going to Europe anytime soon. I have not understood why everyone thinks he is that good. No doubt that he has exceptional talent, but there is a reason he went from Europe to US. He's a head case and he won't be successful until someone mentors him on how to play his position correctly.

    Brunner is a man. SHA-POW

    That was a fun game to watch. I just about pitched a tent everytime we blocked a shot. So basically, everytime I saw Brunner I got a hard one. I thought the Crew were briliiant given the conditions they played in (small field, a good KC team, down a man).

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  2. lol at pitching a tent.

    i agree, not sure why rogers has as much clout as he does. even last season, he would play brilliantly in a game or two and then be relatively unnoticed (chivas and nyrb home games come to mind)

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  3. The keeper's name is Gruenebaum.

    I still didn't think he is that great. He was lucky and got away with a few things. I guess at the moment he's the best we've got.

    I'm glad they called the PK (given what we have seen from the refs in this league so far). Gaven paid attention and got to the ball--what a heads-up play.

    I sure hope Marshall nailed him good. Hopefully, Hohlbein won't be able to pitch a tent for a while.

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