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Crew 3, Wizards 3 (A Supporter’s View)

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Guillermo Barros Schelotto won’t be in the MLS All-Star game later this week and last Thursday he provided a strong case for being the worst snub in the league. The Argentine star dazzled the crowd at Crew Stadium, helping Columbus fight back from 2-0 down to take a 3-2 lead against the Wizards.

That’s when a familiar face stepped in to salvage a point for the Wizards. Josh Wolff, making his season debut, scored the equalizer to help ease some of the pain of blowing an early two-goal lead.

The tie, coupled with the other four ties in league play, left the Crew and Wizards pretty much in the same place they were before, with the Crew holding on to second place in the East and KC struggling to play catch up.

SBI correspondents Brant Guillory and Thad Bell (our newest addition to the correspondent team) gave us their takes on the match:

A comeback, a Schelotto gem and another blown lead

By BRANT GUILLORY

The Columbus Crew seem intent on challenging Tottenham Hotspur for the title of "most entertaining team to screw up games they should win."

Chad Marshall and Andy Iro seem to be the preferred centerback duo these days, giving Columbus thirteen feet of defense in the box to threaten opposing attackers.  But the outside of the defense has had a few issues of late.  For the second week in a row, usually-rock-solid Frankie Hejduk made a goof that directly led to an opposition goal.  In both cases, he was trying to make a play, with his trademark Hey-dude aggressiveness.

Contrast his efforts (right place, wrong move) with those of Danny O’Rourke (wrong place, wrong move, wrong position) and The Crew really, really need Gino Padula to get out of the training room and back on the pitch.  O’Rourke was caught out of place on both goals scored by KC.  He was too far inside and failed to close down Jewsbury on the first, and made an atrocious challenge on Jewsbury that left him open to cross to Wolff for the second.

And yet, those defensive lapses didn’t obscure a Liverpool-esque blitz at the end of the first half from the Black and Gold.  It would be hard to explain Schelotto’s overpowering performance as a reaction to his All-Star snub; I’d be curious to hear from him if he even cares about such things.  But within days of Stevie Nicol naming his Olympic replacement players and inexplicably omitting the MLS assists leader, GBS whirled and whipped his way through a Kansas City defense that spent most of an hour looking shell-shocked at his performance.  It was almost like watching an infomercial: He slices!  He dices!  He scores at will on set plays!

The partnership between the Most Accurate Passer in the League (Schelotto) and the Slowest Fast Guy in the League (Moreno) has spawned obnoxious chants from the Nordecke and numerous head-spinning moments from opposing defenses, cheered all the way by whichever fans pull themselves away from all-things-Buckeye this week to head out to Crew Stadium.

It’s been said over and over, but The Crew have 2 repeating themes this year: they don’t give up and pack it in like the last three years, and they still need a center attacking midfielder.  Brad Evans was replaced in the lineup by the speedier Stefano Miglioranzi.  But the effect was not noticeably different.  The Crew attack still focuses on the sidelines, where the 100m relay team of Rogers and Ekpo will need replacing for most of next month as they zip up and down the sidelines in China.  A real distributor in the midfield, instead of the endless parade of ball-challengers and possession-holders, would make Columbus a real threat to New England in the race for the best record in the league.  Yes, I just dissed the entire Western Conference.

And yes, welcome back Josh Wolff.  I wish you’d had better luck in Europe, but you were always a good MLS player.  Glad you got a goal on your return to MLS to excite your fans in KC.  Reality check, though: my 5-year-old son would’ve scored that 6-foot tap-in.  You’re welcome.

The core team that Schmid has assembled has proven to be energetic, talented, and dogged in their pursuit of their opponents.  They try hard to live up to their motto of America’s Hardest Working Team.  What remains to be seen is what happens when they core of the team – Rogers, Hejduk, Hesmer, Marshall, Moreno, Schelotto – has a bad game (Hejduk) or gets hurt (Marshall) or gets old (Schelotto) or continues his pounded around the pitch by brutes who are intimidated by his speed (Rogers).  The depth of The Crew will continue to be tested as the Summer wears on.  Hejduk can expect some more national team call-ups, but the way he’s played lately, Chad Marshall might, too.  Schmid is going to have to wonder if a Gaven – Carroll – Oughton- Miglioranzi midfield is going to scare opponents any more than a Rogers – Carroll – Evans – Ekpo one does.  He’s going to hold his breath every time GBS looks a bit tweaked.  He’s got to be wondering if Moreno’s incredible three year run of "most fouled player in the MLS" is going to eventually result in a trip to the disabled list.

The Crew have five winnable games coming out of the All-Star break before their showdown with New England over Labor Day weekend.  15 points might be a bit much to hope for, but 12 is a realistic target, and 10 should clearly cement The Crew as a high seed in the playoffs.  12 points and a win over New England going into September, and look out MLS.

A roller coaster ride ends in another draw

By THAD BELL

The Wizards have had a knack for making games feel like a different result.

Against Real Salt Lake on June 28, an own goal in the 89th minute by Beltran sent Wizards fans home happy with a tie. In Dallas on July 4th, a goal in the 91st minute stole a tie and left it feeling more like a loss. The Wizards blew 75-80 minutes of dominance.

This game was such a roller coaster ride I felt like I was at the amusement park.

Standing in line with anticipation, getting closer and closer to the start
The Wizards need to pound the Crew and exact a little vengeance for the embarrassment they laid on us at home in our last meeting. We are starting who? Lance Watson? Rodger “red card” Espinoza? Arnaud up top?

Climbing that big hill at the beginning of every Roller Coaster
Own goal by Hedjuk – nice cross in by Morsink, Victorine almost there and Frankie puts it in for us. Thank you!

Espinoza scores a beautiful goal on a sweet pass from Jewsbury. I am ecstatic for Roger, he really needed some positives to happen in a game. He made that slashing run across that we have needed all year.

Two goals in two minutes, we are looking pretty good. Maybe we will be able to take revenge for the last game.

Over the top and heading down hill
Foul in a dangerous spot, should be no problem. Setup the wall, Hartman will cover it. Scheletto steps up and takes it while nobody is ready. Hey, team!!! We need to be ready for these things. You are profe
ssionals; don’t let them have freebies like this. It was very well placed and would have been a hard save even if we were ready.

Picking up Speed downhill
Scheletto throws in to Rogers who gives it back. Jewsbury gets caught out of position and can not close quickly enough to prevent Schelotto from sliding the ball to Moreno. Harrington is late getting to Moreno, Conrad goes down and Hohlbein is nowhere close to the play. Hartman gets a hand on Moreno’s shot but can not keep it from crossing the line. The entire defense needs to share the blame for that goal.   

Hitting bottom
Schelotto takes the corner, Marshall gets a step on Conrad and nails the header past Hartman who never had a chance. Surprisingly poor play by Conrad, he knows better. 

Ups and Downs
Wizards and Crew play fairly evenly. Some good chances on both sides but special thanks go to Hartman for keeping us in the game. Wolff in for Watson after the half, good move. The Wizards start looking more dangerous again. Josh may be the answer to Kansas City’s scoring problems after all.

The Last Big Thrill
Morsink makes a tackle at midfield and chips the ball up the wing to Jewsbury. Jewsbury takes his time and threads the pass behind the defense and in front of Hesmer. Wolff jogs through the defense and calmly taps it home. Hesmer should have stepped out and grabbed it but I am happy he didn’t. Welcome home Josh.

The Ride is Over
Both teams keep trying; nobody is willing to settle for a tie. Wolff has another chance or two, I’m really happy to have him back and look forward to seeing him and Lopez work together.

After being up 2-0 I could be devastated with a tie; after being down 3-2 a tie feels pretty good. This roller coaster was fun. 

Wizards are now undefeated in their last 5 games. Wolff is looking good. Morsink is looking like he deserves to be a starter. He and Espinoza will have shut up some of their detractors for a little while.

It’s time to get in line for the next ride.

Comments

  1. 1. Aren’t we supposed to be? Isn’t that kind of the point?

    2. Go back and look at what I’ve written elsewhere. I think Chicago is under-represented on the All-Star roster. I’ve given other teams credit when they’ve done things right.

    3. If you think I’m a homer now, wait ’til Newcastle’s season kicks off. hahaha!

    Reply

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