Sunday, July 11, 2004


Singed, but not Burnt

The Crew battled out an eventuful 0-0 draw with the Dallas Burn and AGAIN failed to keep pace with the conference leader. Even though we have games in hand on the Metro, points are the ultimate measure of value in the league, and we sit on 19 at the moment, three back of the leaders. The recap:

* The result flattered both sides. This game could have been 2-0 either way based on the chances generated by both sides and would have been a fair result.

* Edson and Jeffro are the stud! The last two games have produced the best attacking in the final third of any matches this season, and it is all due to having this pair on the pitch. Granted, we weren't able to cash in a goal last night, but that is more due to the fact that...

* Fozzie STILL doesn't get it! I have spoken time and again in this column about how the Crew SHOULD be playing in this three-back scheme, yet somehow no one has clued in Greg as to this. With defensive-minded wingers, ALL of the central midfielders need to be attack-minded (simple math...five offensive players, five defensive players to start the game). With Elliot taking up one of the central midfield positions, that leaves us starting on a regular basis six (or 6 1/2 if Paule also starts) defensive players and requires some luck to score at all (we're keeping clean sheets doing this, but that guarantees you only one point a game). As a result, Martino is LOST on the pitch as the only player besides the strikers who will go all-out at the other team's net, and frankly he isn't good enough to be the only offensive support player in the midfield. Someone in the organization with soccer knowledge needs to sit Andrulis down and spell out the simple math of the formation and why it is not working as well as it could be. Thus, to paraphrase James Carville, if you want to pin our lack of wins on one thing...

* IT'S THE MIDFIELD, STUPID! We are not getting proper midfield play to sufficiently support either the strikers or the defenders. Thus, we face more shots per night than necessary and do not generate nearly enough offensive chances to make the opposition fear us. Now, I do not have a preferred means of play, but if we are wedded to the 3-5-2, the five needs to be either:




The only reason Hejduk plays either way is because we have few options to get more offensive on the roster (no attack-minded right midfielder, and no one else on the left so that Manny can be moved to the right). For all of the changes made in the off-season the two players this team misses most right now are........Brian West and Freddy Garcia. Surprising? Despite their foibles, these guys attacked at will from the flanks and gave us width in the offensive third. At the moment, the only width we generate is if Buddle, Cunningham, or Martino push out of the center to get the ball.

Next week the Revolution visit Estadio Crew and perhaps we can heal what ails us by winning. Then again, the Rev has gotten results despite losing more man-games to injury thus far than Arsenal PLAYED the entire 2003/2004 season (including cup competitions) and we still have Fozzie trotting out his best example of "let 'em play" soccer. No thought, no match-ups, no fitting-the-scheme-to-your-strengths. Just simple, honest, throw-out-11-and-hope-they-win. But we're on a streak (unbeaten in two) and that will quiet down some of the faithful, but is it enough, or should I stock up on Lithium for Saturday?

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