I wrote last week that week 25 was a test for the Black and Gold as they went up against two very different opponents. If I had to grade last week, I’d put it at a solid B. The defending, especially in transition and on set pieces, has a long way to go to get to championship caliber. Still, 4 pts from a two game week is a good result.
What’s easy to miss in worrying about the defense is the Massive are on a roll. Since July, Crew SC are 5-2-2. Now they have scored 18 goals and given up 18 goals in that stretch, but a lot of the goals against (8 total) were given up in the two loses. For Columbus fans who for 19 years grew up with the Hardest Working Team mantra, it’s hard for us to take. The emphasis Gregg Berhalter places on free flowing attacking soccer is just something we have never seen here. You think back to all the great seasons the Crew have had and for the most part it’s been with stout defensive performances and somewhat of a middling offense; 2008, of course, being an exception to that. 3-2 is a score line that frankly scares us to our very core. Yes it’s unnerving to lose a 3 goal lead at home or give up by 5 on the road, but maybe we should just go with it. For the most part, it’s working. The players understand the system and that chances will be given up in it, but for every mistake there is going to be 2 or 3 more opportunities for the offense to score. To Berhalter’s credit, he’s sticking with his players through the mistakes which give them the confidence to keep going forward and fight. If they can get it done with offense, maybe we should stop worrying and just enjoy the ride. Maybe it will take us farther then we think.
How about our mid-season additions? Cedrick Mabwati, Jack McInerney, and Harrison Afful have made their presence known since being added to the roster. Mabwati added the tying goal against NYCFC in a beautiful give and go play with Kei Kamara and his quick footwork lead to the foul for the tying goal against Sporting KC. McInerney supplied the game winning goal against KC with a classic JackMac goal. Jack is a true #9 and offers a change of style to that of Kamara off the bench. Afful has solidified the right back spot in his two starts and offers a mirror image of Waylon Francis for defenses to worry about. For a team that went close to 2/3rds of the season without a goal from the bench, they’ve gotten 2 in the last 2 games all from players they brought in mid-season. I’d say our Sporting Director deserves a round of applause and we haven’t even seen Gaston Sauro yet.
So now the Crew head into week 26 August 29th at 4pm with a second chance against NYCFC. In the first game against the expansion side Wednesday, a lot of focus was placed on the big names coming to town, but it was Kwadwo Poku they just couldn’t stop. After coming back from two unanswered Poku goals to tie it up, the lightning came and the delay killed the momentum of the game, ending it at a 2-2 tie. This game starts a stretch where the Crew find themselves on the road for 5 of their last 8 games. Road points are going to be critical for this team as they move toward the post season.
NorOnTour will be taking a Bus and we expect to have a pretty solid group of traveling supporters at the game. If you would like to get a ticket in the away supporters section please contact Mike Lennon at mike.lennon@nycfc or 1(212)738-5844. For those staying in Columbus, I hope you’ll join Crew Union at 4th Street Bar and Grill for our away watch party at 4pm. Remember to bring your membership card for 20% off drinks and 25% off food. If you’re in the Cincinnati or Cleveland area, check out their bars to watch with other Crew fans. Please go here for details.
Glory to Columbus!!!