Monday, September 20, 2004


Playoff bound!

Edson Buddle scored four goals in providing all the offense for the Crew in a 4-2 victory over the Metrostars. With the win, Columbus takes a four-point lead on the Meadowlands outfit and clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs.

Now that the perfunctory "five W's" are out of the way, onto the wrap-up. This week's installment is not going to be normal, because the Crew that has taken the pitch this season has been anything BUT that. Instead, I will put up a list of things which are true about this team but which no one in their right mind would believe. The result of the match and heroes/zeroes are on the front page, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

* 1st place in the Eastern Conference. Who would have believed this with the Crew starting off the campaign 0-3 and looking quite bad in doing so? Even during the roller-coaster of the the first-half of the season (which ended 5-5-5), there was no sound reason to think this team could be a force in the league and just one point off the Supporters' Shield with a game in hand.

* 1st team to clinch a playoff spot. Another oddity, especially when it looked like Andrulis was trying to save his job by massaging this team to a playoff berth through draws and "sticking around the pack" to the detriment of getting full points on a few occasions.

* Owners of the longest in-season unbeaten streak in league history. SAY WHAT?!?!?!?! You HAVE to be kidding, because this team does not seem to scare ANYONE in the league and has a coach who couldn't find his way out of Crew Cat's costume. The truth, however, is that the Crew has not lost since June 26th, a span of 13 matches, which tops the Galaxy's twelve-game run to open the 1996 season.

* Club of CHOICE for two national-team defenders. The "normal" world of MLS grants Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago unlimited license when it comes to new talent, while shafting Columbus time-and-again. So to believe that we would have on our roster two-thirds of the United States National Team's backline from the last World Cup is a downright alien concept. But it's true, as Frankie Hejduk and Tony Sanneh are members of the Black-and-Gold and came to Soccer Mecca despite opportunities to go elsewhere.

* Only MLS team with multiple hat-tricks. Another mind-stumper, from a team that until this past weekend sat second-from-last in goals scored. Ross Paule's triple against LA on September 4th and Edson Buddle's four-spot on the Metro on Saturday put the Crew in that elite class of teams with just four weeks remaining in the season (the league has had six tricks TOTAL this year).

Amazing, isn't it, that a team which most of us would say is fair-to-middlin' is actually odds-on to take the Shield when the regular season ends on October 16th and could very well lift the Alan I. Rothenberg trophy on November 14th at the Home Depot Center. Talk about a crazy season!

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