05 July 2009

First Impressions -- Columbus Crew 1 : 1 D.C. United

I don't believe in the "win at home, draw on the road" theory, but that doesn't mean the idea doesn't have value. It has value, occasionally, it just shouldn't be a mantra. Columbus has come on recently, but the single significant win was a 2-1 victory over Chivas. The other four wins include 2 wins against Kansas City (including a nice 2-0 road win), a win at home against San Jose, and a win at home against New York. At home, Columbus has not beaten Chicago, D.C. or Toronto. Compare that to United, who at least can look at their home record and cite with some satisfaction home wins against the Fire and Dynamo. These three points were more valuable to Columbus than D.C., and yet D.C. looked like the more likely team to walk away with it.

Yes, Schelotto made Columbus a capable team at any moment, and yes, Columbus were not toothless. Yes, that's how this team seems to make its living, by picking chances and going through. But I was pleased with United's play, with their attack. Columbus was at home, facing a United team down Emilio, Moreno, and Quaranta, and if nothing else had to feel that failing to get the full points would be significant. Yet United, after a shaky opening 10 minutes, exerted more control on the match as it went on. Columbus never played like a team that felt it was going to win, it played like a team that was looking for a single chance, which they got.

There is much to be said for United's performance. Janicki, who looked somewhat miserable a few weeks ago, played well in the center of the back three. If anything, the concern I had was that Burch and Namoff both seemed to be losing touch with him, opening large gaps on either side. Boyzzz was acceptable as a starting winger, and showed that he deserves the occasional start in the future. Importantly, he didn't run himself out in the opening half hour, he played well for the 55 minutes he got. Pontius and Gomez both seemed to get stronger as the match progressed. N'Silu was far too deep back given his ball control skills in this match, his touch was off and he surrendered a few too many balls when he tracked back for them.

Ben Olsen was in his rightful position, and showed why the term is "Holding midfielder." He would hold possession, cutting the ball back with reason to extend United's midfield strength. He held position on several key tackles. When all else failed, he held a huge chunk of jersey from an opposing player. I don't know how long Ben can go this year, but this was a solid match from him.

United got a solid result against a conference opponent on the road. How can I be angry about that? More importantly, they denied points to Columbus. It is a strange feeling having to take Columbus seriously, and I don't particularly like it. So I'd rather have to take them seriously with them looking up at us then the other way around.

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At 05 July, 2009 15:28, Blogger Kevin said...

We should have won this game! We outplayed them from the 22nd minute on, and the only chance they got was the goal. Party Boy and Gomez looked great, Wallace came on strong after an invisible first half, the back line was solid (except on the goal; WHY would you ever leave Alejandro Moreno unmarked), Boyzzz was energetic and pretty sharp, N'Silu put in a good effort but still needs to work on his skills and self-control (two hard challenges late in the game), and Benny had his usual strong effort. Wicks controlled the box, though looked a little shaky.

Good effort from the team, especially missing Tino, Yak, Jaime, and Luci, but we should have won this game.

At 05 July, 2009 17:50, Blogger Land, Lord, and Wine said...

9 men deserved to be out there, 2 did not. Their names are Boyzzz Khumalo and especially Ange N'Silu. Watching these two in the box fail to take chances time and time again was frustrating to say the least.

There was one point in the match where I remember Ben Olsen having a clear shot at delivering the ball into the box to the feet of a fairly open Ange N'Silu. Ange being the only man open, and with a *little* trickery could have easily turned the play into a goal, Ben decided to pull the play back and build some more. I didn't blame him.

I've read the sentiment on the net already, and it's the EXACT phrase I thought of as I saw balls fly beautifully into the feet of N'Silu only to be squandered - he is a black hole of chances.

As for the rest of the team - we REALLY could have used Luciano. There were a couple rebounds that would have been impossible for anyone, but a LOT that were prime Luci rebounds. There were also quite a few where I thought ANYONE should be able to drain those and that's where I found myself frustrated with the rest of the attack.

At 05 July, 2009 22:00, Blogger Jeremy said...

Benny was the best that he has been in over two years. Inspiring performance. Gomez has had two or three great games back to back. Pontius' energy never stops.

Now if someone could just figure out how to start finishing this season...

At 06 July, 2009 06:44, Blogger Shatz... said...

LL&W, you're right about one thing. If we had Emilio I think we win this match.

At 14 July, 2009 05:32, Blogger Rahul Kumar said...

Nice Post
Steven Spurrier


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