By Hilary // @hils4crew
Saturday, April 28: 2-1 Win
On a cool April evening, Mapfre Stadium hosted a Superhero themed night. Not only were the stands filled with superheroes, but a superhero was found on the field too—resulting in a Columbus Crew SC 2-1 victory over San Jose Earthquakes.
Crew SC led off the scoring with a Harrison Afful goal from a Frederico Higuain assist in the 28’. The Earthquakes didn’t let Columbus get too comfortable with the lead for very long. In the 45’, Florian Jungwirth sent a ball across the field to a seemingly unmarked Danny Hoesen. Hoesen buried a header past Zach Steffen who looked like he may have gotten hit by a villain’s freeze ray. Although, I’m not sure there is much Steffen could have done to stop it.
In the 51’, it looked like Crew SC may have found their answer. When Afful sent in a cross, Milton Valenzuela shot the ball, but an Earthquake defender blocked the ball. It rebounded to Gyasi Zardes who took a shot, which seemed to hit the raised hands of the defender and deflected away. Most fans and Crew SC players thought it should be a penalty kick. Nothing was called, and the game continued.
Mike Grella entered his first game for Crew SC in the 65’ after being picked up in the offseason. Grella hadn’t played in an MLS match since early 2017 due to a serious injury. He has been working back from this injury and these were his first returning steps into an MLS game.
What Grella didn’t tell his teammates and fans is that he had on his superhero cape. In the 84’, Pedro Santos crossed the ball across to Grella who after a few quick touches buried the ball past the keeper at the near post earning Crew SC the win. I don’t know if you can write a happier ending than that.
Thoughts on the Game:
Earlier in the week, the club announced a contract extension for Higuain for next season. Now, I’ve always been pretty vocal about how vital I think Pipa is for this team, but for the last few weeks, he has gotten several cards for dissent, kicked the sideboards, and yelled at some of his teammates pretty heatedly on the field. This reminds me of Pipa from a few years back–not one I thought was playing the best soccer. While I appreciate passion, I hope it doesn’t start to negatively impact his game.
In the last few weeks, Crew SC has significantly outshot its opponents. While Crew SC is holding their opponents to very few shots, the problem is that the opponents’ shots are going in. So, Columbus needs to figure out how to continue to limit their opponents’ shot opportunities while not allowing their limited shots to actually enter the goal.
I still feel this team is missing Justin Meram’s production and knowledge of his teammates’ tendencies. Hopefully, Grella might develop into an answer to Meram’s absence. I’m also a huge fan of our rookie left back Milton Valenzuela. He is one to keep an eye on throughout the season if you haven’t already noticed him.
This upcoming weekend, Crew SC travel across the country to play the Seattle Sounders. Hopefully, the team will remember their superhero capes.
Featured image courtesy: Hilary
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