Sunday, July 04, 2004


Black, Gold, and Boom!

The Columbus Crew finally put together a solid showing in delivering a clinical 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. I don’t know whether to give this team a standing ovation for what was a rare performance or a year’s supply of Prozac to deal with its mood swings. With two games in hand and only two points back of DC United, the push to the front of the conference could not have come sooner (heck, in this conference, ANY push is enough to get you near the top). Onto the recap:

* It’s amazing what a healthy striker can do! For one of the first times this season, Edson Buddle and Jeff Cunningham started up top for Columbus and it showed. The attack had much more bite with this pair that it has had with varying striker combinations and they forced the Chicago backline to stay at home or get bitten by them.

* The midfield WORKED! Despite my pleadings to attack into the gaps behind the wingers, it wasn’t until last night that Andrulis got the message. Ross Paule and Kyle Martino took advantage of the aggressive play of Beasley and Mapp to get balls into dangerous positions and play onto the skillful frontrunners. The long ball into space for Edson and Jeffro also brought some scares to the Fire defense.

* Fozzie’s twin is lost. Despite a better-than-normal showing last night, Eric Denton still doesn’t prove he has the wherewithal to compete at this level. The Crew has several other options at his position (Wingert looked good in his first MLS start even though he was playing out of position, Lagos or Testo can provide better attacking, even Hejduk can be moved to the left in a pinch) and thus Denton should be resigned to picking some splinters out of his backside based on form (nevermind his flipping-off a portion of the home crowd on Wednesday night). If either Sanneh or Charles make their way onto the Columbus roster, Denton’s days in Cowtown could be numbered.

The pattern of the season for the Crew has been pretty well set. Win one, and they will run off a few. Get beat (or even manage to squeak out an unflattering draw) and they will hit the skids for several matches. This form of schizophrenia is not a problem in MLS, because only one team in each conference misses the playoffs, and the Eastern conference is so tightly packed (DC on 20, Metro on 19, Columbus at 18, and the Fire at 17) that a couple of wins in a row can move you from the bottom to the top (or a short run of bad results can do the opposite). Let’s hope the Crew takes its new-found form into Dallas next weekend against a less-than-full-force Burn side and can return back to Soccer Mecca with three more points in the bag.

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