Saturday, August 8, 2009

8/9/09: Recap 8/8 vs. San Jose

by JB the First

Massive photo credit to studio79

A somewhat sluggish game that was meant to be a warm up for fans paying the price of admission to see FC Barcelona and Chivas turned into a fireworks display for Columbus in the last twenty minutes as the Crew capped off a short road trip with a 3-0 victory over San Jose.

The Earthquakes were probably the more threatening side in the first half, although Columbus seemed to control play more. Despite having a fair share of possession, the Massive Club failed to mount many serious attacks on goal, allowing San Jose some good counterattack opportunities. The Crew's best chances came in the twenty-third minute when wing Robbie Rogers's left-footed shot from inside the box went around twenty feet wide of the net. Later in the forty-first, Rogers had a great chance for a header on the near post that bounced harmlessly out of bounds.

Despite being somewhat disappointing in the box in the first half (as he has been the entire Crew season), Robbie capitalized on the Crew's steadily increasing domination of play in the second half in front of fans in his home state. A fantastic cross from substitute Emmanuel Ekpo in the sixty-ninth minute found Rogers's head, floated towards substitute Alejandro Moreno, and was promptly banged into the back of San Jose's net. Four minutes later, it was Rogers creating one his own, snagging a loose ball from two defenders and firing a perfectly placed shot into the top right corner of the net over Joe Cannon. In the eighty-seventh minute, substitute Adam Moffat's benign-looking header off a Gino Padula corner kick took a deflection off a San Jose defender and found the net.

For the second week in a row, it looked like Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha's substitutions were key to sparking a somewhat sloth like Columbus attack. The Bash Brothers, Steven Lenhart and Jason Garey, failed to create many chances, and it was Garey's exit that allowed the game's first goalscorer, Moreno, to make his entrance. Minutes later, Emmanuel Ekpo entered the game, began befuddling San Jose's defense with his somewhat unorthodox ball control and passing, and eventually began the play that concluded in Moreno's goal with a beautiful cross. Although Moffat's goal looked like a fluke, the oft-injured midfielder came in and provided an immediate spark to the midfield, which had been somewhat lackluster itself in its ability to create offense.

Danny O'Rourke and Brian Carroll continue to prove themselves as solid defensive players who need one or more players in front of them doing the distribution in the middle of the park. Carroll's passing looked better than it has, but O'Rourke was off the mark a few times, and seemed to drift in and out of focus the rest of the way.

The Crew defense continued its streak of stalwart performances, with Eric Brunner perhaps putting in the best performance of his career with several well-timed tackles to break up plays. Jed Zayner also put in a promising performance in place of the injured Frankie Hejduk, despite not contributing as much as Frankie in the attack. Chad Marshall had his typical game of geological proportions, while Gino Padula struggled to cope with the speed of San Jose's Shea Salinas, but made some nice tackles in the box and contributed to the defense of the midfield.

Goalkeeper Will Hesmer made one good save off an early Cornell Glen shot, but had little to do the rest of the game. He came off of his line well for the most part, but had a few snafus in that arena late.

And if you're noticing the absence of Eddie Gaven in this article, it's because he had a match that he and everyone affiliated with the Crew will want to put behind them. Perhaps the only positive to take away from it is the good feeling he gave San Jose every time they robbed him of the ball.

The Massive Club returns home next Saturday to face a streaking FC Dallas team that has shown they can beat anyone recently. The Crew will need to keep tabs on estranged ex-Columbus forward Jeff Cunningham, but the way the men in yellow have been playing defense, that may not be a problem.

Player Ratings:

-------------------------Hesmer (7.5)-------------------

Zayner (7.5)----Brunner (8)----Marshall (8)----Padula (7)

------------------O'Rourke (5.5)----Carroll (6.5)-----------------

Gaven (2)-------------------------------------------Rogers (8)

--------------Lenhart (5)---------Garey (2.5)-------------------


Moreno 7

Ekpo 7

Moffat 7


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