Saturday, July 25, 2009

7/25/09: Crew vs. TFC Game Recap

By JB the First

Even though Columbus had their backs to the wall, they were aided by some tremendous team chemistry and a home field advantage of historic proportions to a thrilling 3-2 win over TFC, clinching the 2009 Trillium Cup.

Despite not filling their roster to the league limit, the Crew continues to show their depth with some pleasantly surprising offensive showings. Up top, the Bash Brothers, Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart, play off each other well, as their one-touch passing and runs were well in sync for long stretches of the match. Garey's injury time game-winning goal was well finished, as he continues to prove himself as a pure goalscoring forward, and Lenhart's continuously threatening runs earn him Man of the Match honors from me.

The Crew may have been able to score even more than three goals if they had better support from the flanks, where Oughton and Gaven both had largely unremarkable nights. Gaven did grab a goal, but Toronto GK Stefan Frei should have stopped his effort.

In the center of the park, Brian Carroll had a nice day defensively, but aside from setting up Steven Lenhart's game-tying goal, his offense was shaky as usual. He broke up a lot of potential moves with turnovers. His partner in the middle of the park, Danny O'Rourke, had a great defensive game, making several key stops, including a great last-ditch slide tackle in the box to diffuse a TFC break. Although his long shot attempts were groan-inducing (he must really want to score his first MLS goal), O'Rourke had a great game.

Both Padula and Hejduk had solid nights, with Gino making several good defensive plays, as well as serving up some nice set pieces. Hejduk's night was a little quieter on the right side, but he made some good runs and sent in a beautiful cross to Jason Garey for the game-winner.

In the center of the defense, Eric Brunner continues to grow into the position and he had a solid game. He did trip over a TFC player on the Reds' second goal, as well as having a few other shaky, but not critical moments. Andy Iro was another story. He made a few nice stops, but his poor positioning was exploited by Toronto for their first goal, and an awful touch led directly to the opposition's second score.

Hesmer seems to be back to last season's form, looking confident in night. Despite allowing two goals, he came off his line well, and did what he had to with no fuss. His distribution was a little shaky, but that's nothing new for him.

The subs, Emmanuel Ekpo and Adam Moffat, both made positive impacts on the game. Moffat did the little things well, despite not making a huge visible impact, and his connecting passes and forward runs helped set up the Crew's several late-game thrusts. Ekpo's service was dead on tonight, and aside from some ugly dribbling and a midfield turnover or two, he had a brilliant game. It looked as if Robert Warzycha spotted some tight man marking on Lenhart and Garey (who both had the upper hand over TFC's defenders in athleticism), and told Ekpo to exploit it. Emmanuel is clearly making a push to get himself back into the starting lineup, but he is going to need to perform like that for more than 30 minutes at a time to warrant regaining his starting position. Maybe a game or two on the bench will be what he needs to shake off the apparent complacency?

Looking ahead, the Crew take the road to face slumping Colorado next Saturday, while getting Adam Moffat, and possibly Alejandro Moreno and Guillermo Barros Schelotto back to full health. After moving to the top of the Eastern Conference for now, the Crew look like they are in good shape.

Player Ratings:

-------------------------Hesmer (7)---------------------------

Hejduk (6.5)----Brunner (6)----Iro (3.5)----Padula (6.5)------

------------------O'Rourke (7)----Carroll (6.5)----------------

Oughton (5.5)---------------------------------------Gaven (6)

-----------Lenhart (7.5 MOTM)----Garey (7)-----------------


Ekpo (6.5)

Moffat (6)


  1. I'm pretty sure Eric tripped over himself on that second goal. You can watch the replay and decide for yourself but me and my friends are pretty sure it was just a personal error.

  2. I have to disagree with you for Lenhart as MOTM, most of the time he was tripping over himself and messing up chances instead of working well, right now I don't think he has enough experience yet to be a starting forward, but hopefully he'll improve once Schelotto gets back.

  3. It was a hard match to award a MOTM because no one player had a huge impact throughout. Heck, Ekpo could get it for the great service he delivered over the top and the way he opened up TFC's D.

    That being said, Lenhart used his size and pace well to repeatedly make threatening moves. Garey himself said that Lenhart opened up space for his runs, Lenhart grabbed the most impressive goal of the game, which also served as a huge momentum swing back in the Crew's favor. Finally, Lenhart didn't just flame out towards the end of the game like he typically does, but continued to threaten to the final whistle.

    Sure he doesn't have the technical ability to finish some of the chances he gets, and that showed last night, but for me, he still had the biggest impact on the game of any individual.