An ugly, grind them out win in ugly conditions (Pic by Sam Fahmi).
Robert Warzycha was an attacking player back in his prime at Everton and you would figure that the Crew would play in an attacking mentality similiar to his, no matter whether the Crew only play one true striker on the field. But, if the Real Salt Lake game is a barometer, instead the Crew look like a team this year who will grind out victories, take their one break, after going up they'll pass around side to side, and rely on Hesmer to make some stops to close out the game. I thought Saturday was a step in the right direction but even with two wins and a tie (that was seconds from being a win) so far, I would like to see the Crew play a better brand of football.
Nevertheless, it has to be comforting for Crew fans that despite playing average in three games, the Crew has 7 out of 9 points on the season. Further, there was some great passing in portions of the Crew's second half. Also, if Lenhart, Guillermo, and Moffat would have picked their heads up in the second half to realize they had space to shoot on goal on three opportunities, they could have likely of had another one or two goals. As one of the things that is holding the Crew back (currently and at times last year) is that almost nobody currently on the field (Renteria may be the only one on the whole team) is comfortable with ripping a ball from 15-20 yards out or the players just think it's an unnecessary opportunity to lose possession. But, if Guillermo, Lenhart, and Moffat all tried the open rip from 15 yards out, one of those is likely back of the net bound. Instead it appeared that in the Crew's second half, they wanted to pass it all the way to the net and attempt to pass in a goal. The Real Salt Lake defense, for the most part, had this covered.
Also, I think the Crew benefitted from a pro-Crew referee for the first time in it's history, as the ref probably got annoyed with RSL's captain Kyle Beckerman's constant chats during the game. For example, it was nice to see Rogers make a run that led to a PK although the goal was from a soft PK call and Rogers got nudged most likely by the wind. Other then Rogers PK, he looked his usual "I'm bored" cruising through a game self. It would be great to see some of his USA National Team intensity or for him to go for a ball that is 5 feet away and a 50/50.
No matter, I think the Crew can thank Will Hesmer (and maybe the ref a little) for this dual victory. Hesmer was solid throughout the game making three or four important saves, highlighted by being beat in the first half by the Costa Rican Saborio and diving behind him to get to the ball as Saborio was already past him. Hesmer came up big and without him this was a loss.
So, my man of the match is William Hesmer, he's worked his way back into Crewture's good graces.