Crew likely not to be smiling come the end of this season, if they don't start finishing their run of play opportunities (Picture via MLSnet).
In the last few weeks, the Crew have relied on a penalty kick to give them a 2-1 win over Houston at home, a penalty kick to give them a 2-2 away tie against Chicago, and the Crew were about to rely on a penalty kick to take them to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round last night. However, Saprissa showed with a last minute goal, that the Crew would actually have to finish a chance from the run of play to deserve qualification.
During last night's contest, the Crew had a nice ammount of brillant symphony-like movements to the 18 finished off with a worm burner concherto. Most of the Crew have realized their inability with scoring anywhere outside of the six yard box lately (think about it, we either have had a PK or Guillermo's header goal against Chicago from a yard out, or Lenhart and Gaven's goals against LA from 1 and 2 yards out respectively). Therefore, the Crew have a new tactic and that tactic appears to be let's try to get a PK and have our defense kill off the game. Heck, Alejandro Moreno tried to receive the ever-elusive second PK in the second half of last night's contest. Around the 60th minute, Moreno with his back to the defender in the box, made a brillant flick over the defenders head, spun around the defender, and had just the goalie to beat to take the game to 2-0. What did Moreno decide to do? Why fall over like he was a tranquilized rhino. Inches away, the ball begging to be slotted into the net trickled past his head.
I looked on with bemusement at the untouched Moreno. I thought to myself, "man, nice move, but that's a guy who has more confidence in his diving abilities than his scoring abilities." Oyy vey.
And, it's not just Moreno, most of our offense has the same confidence in any shot above 10 yards. Understandable since most of our roster seems to have the leg power of a 6 year old rec league player. Even Renteria has left his cannon in Caracas. And, what about the magnificent looking Ekpo last night. His moves to the eighteen had me literally squealing with delight last night, but once there he runs out of ideas or shoots it at the goalie. Ekpo had a one on one against both the Cruz Azul goalie and the Saprissa goalie, and both times he hit it right to the keeper. Find a corner Manu. Find a corner Manu.
I'm not trying to be hard on Manu, he was my man of the match by far last night. Or the rest of the Crew. I thought Moreno had a solid game(albeit Moreno should actually stay on his feet when he has a chance to score). I'm just saying that the Crew needs to learn soon how to finish opportunities. They are running out of PK luck, seriously you would think refs would begin to be scared to call one for us, as it's about to elicit cries of conspiracy from every soccer fan in MLS.
Bottom line though, the Crew shouldn't be relying on penalty kicks. They have a talented attack. They need to start having some faith in their ability to rip a nice shot precisely. Because the Crew at 92 minutes last night should have been logically up 3-0 or 4-0, that's how much they dominated Saprissa at home. But, they rested on a 1-0 lead and paid for it through a suspect goal.
The thing is, if you put your opponent away. You don't allow the ref or your pushing opponent dictate the result. The Crew and their fans have nothing to complain about. Good teams finish their chances and the Crew are not finishing them at the moment. Either they start finishing them. Or it will bite them in the ass both in Puerto Rico and in the playoffs.
In regards to CONCACAF qualifying, Saprissa is going to win at Saprissa, because Cruz Azul will likely bring their D team. The Crew will likely have to have a performance of a lifetime to get a tie at Puerto Rico. But, hey the Crew put themselves in this tough spot. We'll see if they get themselves out of it.