Monday, August 31, 2009

8/31/09: Columbus Gets No Points In New Jersey, Looking Forward To NYRB's Grass Pitch



The Columbus game plan in New Jersey seems to usually be, play a combination of the B team along with the A team youngsters. This is usually like an AARP insurance plan for running around on basically a concrete surface. The usual result of this managerial decision is ineffectual play and an ineffectual result, the Crew didn't disappoint the script with a 1-0 loss on Sunday in front of 10,000* ineffectual fans. *Well, probably more like 5,000.

The Crew haven't won at Giants Stadium in 12 outings or since Frankie Hejduk was in his 20's(6 years ago but who is counting). The positive news though is that the Crew's knees can rest easy as the Red Bulls move to their new grass arena next year.

So, at least the Crew can shrug and say "we'll have better luck next year" as Columbus had similiar dismal results when playing in Colorado at Mile High. There was just something about that stadium too that irked the souls of everyone that put on the yellow & black jersey since 1996. But, since the move to DSG, the Crew are 2-0 in Colorado. The Crew also have a better chance as well to get results at new stadiums with grass like Real Salt Lake's or Red Bull New York's next year. So, the SSS movement should just (if the whole team doesn't transfer to Europe in the offseason) improve the Crew's record yearly, right?

So, that's a positive. Now on the game. The Crew had some pretty drill-like passing and about 179 pretty crosses from Emmanuel Ekpo, but didn't test Bouna Coundoul much of the game. If you can't put a shot on frame, then you're going to lose usually on the road. The strikers didn't put a real chance on net until Alejandro Moreno headed a fly ball to Coundoul in the 79th minute.

Jason Garey, Steven Lenhart, and Alejandro Moreno were all pretty ineffective at forward in New Jersey. Maybe it was the surface or maybe all three just didn't have the best of games, but whatever it was, the attack was about as dangerous as baby kittens. You know it isn't good news when Eric Brunner(who yesterday finishes about as well as I do) has your best two opportunities.

Other than that, I thought the defense and midfield did well for the most part. They held onto possession and passed around New York with skill. The only problem on defense was another defender should have stayed back while the Crew were in attack because New York had about four or five solid 4 vs. 2 counters. If New York's Dane Richards included his teammates more, it could have been 3-0. But, overall the defense to midfield buildup was good, there just wasn't much of a spark in attack and offensive forays fizzled out near the eighteen. It was a shame that no one could seem to get on the end of Ekpo's crosses too as he had quiet a few good ones. I notch that up to just bad luck.

Overall, the game just felt like the Crew were in training mode. They played mostly their B squad. They went around the field passing at a gingerly but smooth pace. Even when down, they seemed calm and not vexed about possibly losing this one. Columbus knew that Chicago already lost this week and the Crew have one game in hand on them. It was just a fun day Sunday, where it seemed like the attitude was "if we can get some points here with our B team great. But, if not whatever."

I just think the Crew needed and were looking forward to a break. A much needed one to re-focus after the surprise schlacking on Wednesday.

Ratings:
Gruenebaum- 6.5, Nothing he could have done on the Richards goal. Not much other work on the day.
Hejduk- 7, Got into the attack, made smart passes.
Marshall- 7, Not his best day but not his worst either. Had a good opportunity when he had Kandji covering him on the corner kick.
Brunner- 4.5, Can't give the ball up like that 25 yards out in the first half. Only Padula's foot saved that counter. If he could have finished his two chances in front of net his rating would have been higher, but understandable since he is a defender. Also a boneheaded yellow in the second half on Kandji.
Padula- 7.8, I thought he was one of the best players on the day. Smart passing, smart defending, in the game.
Carroll- 5, I didn't really notice him much either way until Richards goal. Carroll had Richards in front of him for three or four seconds. Carroll has to commit and slide in or do something. If Carroll just stands there then of course a fast winger is going to beat him in the open field one on one. Carroll should have slide tackled, fouled, grabbed Richards, made some sort of decision.
Moffat- 5.5, Okay game. Doesn't seem to have his touch or fitness all the way back yet. Seems like he isn't seeing the game as fast sometimes in the midfield yet. He will get back on track though.
Ekpo- 7.8. Good crosses, good overlaps, good passes, good moves. Thought it was a solid performance from him.
Gaven- 6.5. Was dangerous at times, especially early on in the game. Not a bad game.
Garey- 4. Not very good. Had a golden opportunity on a platter from Gaven early on in the game and skuffed it. When your in the box, wide open, with a ball rolling to you. You need to finish that. Seemed like he was thinking about it for the rest of the game.
Lenhart- 5.5. Okay, good in the air as usual. Seemed to come out of the gates with a lot of energy and better touches. But, still didn't contribute much in the way of dangerous either.

SUBS
Rogers- 5. Didn't bring much of any spark in the second half.
Moreno- Not enough time.
Schelotto- Not enough time.

Warzycha- 6. I get the resting of some players from the concrete pitch idea. But, when you have a bit of time off after this one, do you need to rest players like O'Rourke and Rogers? These guys are in their early 20's. Why not instead rest players actually with injury problems and who are older like Carroll and Hejduk? I also don't get some of the subbing. Moreno at around the 75th minute, isn't a speed player that is going to give an attack a spark. He is effective starting, not really as much off the bench. Also, Guillermo in the 86. Why even bother making the third sub? All three subs should have came on right after NYRB's goal, as it looked like the Crew could have used a lift from the 20th minute on.

Also what are we saving Renteria's legs for? Renteria's only game the last few months has been for Venezuela for 20 minutes in Giants Stadium on August 12th. I thought he could have provided an offensive spark to a dual attack. Why even sign him if we are not going to see what he has?

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