Monday, October 04, 2004


A Hollow Point

In front of its second consecutive sellout crowd, the Crew was in prime position to clinch home-field advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs and their first conference title. A victory over the Fire combined with a DC win at the Metrostars would put Columbus seven points up on the Meadowlands side with just six points available. Despite Damani Ralph’s penalty kick strike on 14 minutes, momentum was with the Crew all evening. Nate Jaqua’s dismissal and Kyle Martino’s answer from the spot on the halftime whistle put the Crew back in the driver’s seat. Despite two leads in the second half, the Hunt Park outfit could not close out the match, ending up with a 3-3 draw that moves the team five clear of the Metrostars and extending its unbeaten run to a league-record-tying 15 straight matches. The recap:

* Downside of 11 v. 10 was evident. For the second straight match, the Crew had a man advantage for the entire second half and, for the second match in a row, they had problems cashing in on their wealth of numbers. DC United did not score in part because of a spectacular match from Jon Busch and in part because their personnel options were severely limited after the Nelsen ejection, having used one sub to replace an injured Jaime Moreno and a second to restore a third player to the backline. Chicago, on the other hand, lost a midfielder/forward and still had a four-person backline in place that was less-than-fully challenged by the Crew in the latter 45 minutes. That, along with effective substitutions by Dave Sarachan and a lack of straight-up marking or a tactical adjustment to emphasize their numerical advantage, is what doomed the Crew.

* Same old story in Cowtown. Greg Andrulis gets top kudos for making proper adjustments to his normal first XI due to the absence of Edson Buddle and Ross Paule. Yet again, his inability to make changes WITHIN the match is what probably cost us two points. Not changing his allocation of players to take advantage of Jaqua’s early exit, pulling off Szetela for Lagos (a lateral move at best) late in a one-goal match, and not using the third sub once the Fire tied the match were errors on his part. Despite that, three points could have been gotten and were not because………

* WE LAID BACK! We got the lead at 2-1 and sat back, leaving opportunity for Andy Herron’s first goal. We get a 3-2 lead and then shell up instead of going after a fourth goal. Tired legs on our part, fresh legs on theirs, and a zone in back to manage Ralph (plus not following Herron when he drifted back into the midfield) left the Fire chance upon chance to grab a point and keep their own playoffs dreams alive.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?