All posts by hils4crew

Want You To Be Happier

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

“I want you to be happier.” These are the lyrics that played through the loud speakers as I left Mapfre Stadium after the Columbus Crew faced the Chicago Fire on Saturday. It was like the team was telling us they knew that they wanted fans to be happier. That they knew they weren’t executing the game as they should and could. And they weren’t.

On the Crew’s first official Alumni Night, complete with jerseys that listed all the players that had worn that number before, the Crew couldn’t pull out the win and ended up with a 1-1 result.

The Crew had several opportunities for goals in the first half from Santos, Argudo, Maloney, Afful, Diaz, and Zardes, and limited Chicago to only one dangerous attempt by Przemyslaw Frankowski. In the 27′, the Crew’s attempts paid off when Pedro Santos carried the ball down the sideline, into the center of the field, and took a shot from outside the 18 that hit the back of the net to give the Crew the lead.

Then at halftime, which was the highlight of the evening for me, all of the alumni who had returned to Mapfre were introduced. As they were introduced, the alumni were given a scarf from one of the original Crew season ticket holders that are still season ticket holders today. These alumni included Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham, Dante Washington, Gino Padula, Alejandro Moreno, and Frankie Hejduk just to name a few.

In the second half, the game seemed unremarkable for the Crew but the Fire seemed to bring some danger. Eloy Room made a great save in the 82′ to keep the Crew in the lead. However, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, the Crew gave away the lead when Aleksandar Gaitan passed a ball through the Columbus box to Frankowski who was streaming in unmarked on the backside of the net. He buried it to tie the game. After Chicago found the equalizer, the Crew made many attempts to get another goal but didn’t.

Thoughts about the Match

This team can’t play on their heels. They have given away so many goals in the same fashion as they did in this game because they are passing the ball around or giving it away in their third of the field. They need to continue to attack. They have not had a game where they have been dangerous the entire time, and every time they have a half where they are not attacking, they give up silly goals.

Eloy Room deserves a shut out. He’s been a phenomenal replacement for Zach Steffen, but the team has not rallied to help give him a clean sheet yet.

Connor Maloney is essentially a fourth string left back and didn’t even play defense in college. Despite his first shaky start against Cincinnati a few weeks back, Maloney has played admirably. Hopping above people twice his size to get headers, running at full speed to make recovery runs, and letting off a wicked shot this week, it’s nice to see a player making strides when given an opportunity.

I continue to appreciate the new ownership. Seeing them embrace the alumni–the foundation of the club–and celebrate our heritage makes me excited to see what they continue to do in the future. Now, if they could just get Eddie Gaven back for an alumni night…

Let’s hope that after a week off, the Crew can make me happier when they face Atlanta United on September 14th.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Another Tie…Another Point

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful night in Ohio, the Columbus Crew faced Toronto FC. With playoffs looking very unlikely, but not impossible, it was crucial for Columbus to get 3 points out of this match.

Youness Mokhtar made his starting debut for the Crew after subbing in during the last match, and Josh Williams returned to the line up after recovering from an injury. Connor Maloney once again played left back, but he had a much better outing than when playing Cincinnati last week.

While the Crew did not dominate the first half, they did not look quite as lost as they did last week. While Toronto dominated possession, they did not get a lot of opportunities until they very end of the half.

In the 42′, Toronto picked up the lead when Jozy Altidore sent a pass to Jonathan Osorio. Osorio leisurely dribbled it up the middle of the field unchallenged and sent a shot in from outside the 18 into the net.

Quickly in the second half, the Crew equalized. Wil Trapp sent a floating cross to Pedro Santos. Santos quickly one touched it off his left foot and into the net.

In the 65′, 79′, and 80′, coach Caleb Porter made an offensive push, subbing Mokhtar for Luis Arugdo, Romario Williams for Luis Diaz, and David Accam for Connor Maloney. One of these subs made an immediate impact. In the 82′, Harrison Afful got the ball to Accam who carried it halfway down the field to finish it off, putting the Crew in the lead.

Now, all the team needed to do was possess and keep the ball away from their end of the field to get the three points. Unfortunately, this was not to pass, with Toronto’s Altidore heading in a ball in the 90′, tying the score 2-2.

There were several times in the second half where the Crew could have scored more goals. Argudo had a great shot that was deflected and hit the cross bar, Zardes headed a ball into the ground that should have hit the back of the net, and he had another opportunity he missed as well.

Thoughts on the Match

I continue to think the Crew is improving, but it is most likely too little too late for any hope of making the post-season. While we did get a point out of this match, giving away a goal in the end stages of a game we are winning cannot happen if we want to hold on to any shred of hope of a post-season appearance.

I didn’t have any strong feelings when we picked up David Accam. Then I found out we only had him for this season, so I didn’t really want to invest too much. Unfortunately, I’ve become a fan and hate to see him go.

I am also a fan of Gyasi Zardes, but he may need to go visit Berhalter or Josh Wolff to figure out why he hasn’t seemed to be able to finish any shots recently. The current coaching staff hasn’t seemed to figure it out since Zardes has returned from international duty.

I was very relieved to see Artur and Trapp start in the midfield for this game, and there was no David Guzman appearance. I’m sure with three games in nine days we are likely to see him, but Guzman remains my least favorite acquisition of the season.

With post-season looking unlikely, I am beginning to wonder about which players will be returning next season. I hope we will see a return of Pedro Santos who finally has found his form under Porter.

Hopefully, we can take 3 points from our Wednesday game against NYCFC to keep any hopes of the playoffs alive.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Hell Is Real: Columbus Crew Meet New Rival

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful summer Saturday night in Columbus, the Columbus Crew took on FC Cincinnati in the first ‘Hell is Real’ match. The name of this new rivalry rose organically from fans in reference to a giant billboard displaying the phrase as you travel between Columbus and Cincinnati on 71. With a Columbus Crew team that has struggled and was just finally finding an improvement in form and a FC Cincy team who has struggled to find its footing in its first year in the MLS, this was a battle of the bottom of the table.

Prior to kickoff, both teams and the stadium as a whole took a moment to honor the victims of recent gun violence in Dayton, Ohio. The stadium held a moment of silence, both teams wore black armbands throughout the match and posed with a #DaytonStrong banner, and both supporters’ groups were silent in the ninth minute of the game.

The Match

The Crew rolled out the familiar 4-2-3-1 line up. One of the major differences in this line up compared to those of recent games was that of Connor Maloney at left back. Maloney has been on the team since 2017 but is usually loaned out. However, since left back seems to be the position where the Crew has a plethora of injuries, Maloney got the start.

The Crew’s recent improvement in form seemed to have disappeared in the first 30 minutes of this game–with Cincy getting on the board twice. In the 16′, Darren Mattocks headed in a corner kick without being marked. In the 23′, Emmanuel Ledesma finished off a cross from Roland Lamah that skipped across the field and past both Crew center backs into the backside of the goal.

Before halftime in the 43′, Gyasi Zardes earned a PK as he was fouled by Maikel van der Werff while on the receiving end of a cross from Harrison Afful. Gyasi took and finished the PK pulling the Crew within 1 at halftime.

In the second half, FC Cincy had a few opportunities, but the Crew seemed to control most of the second half. They scored the tying goal in the 62′ off a restart from Afful to Will Trapp. Trapp passed the ball to Pedro Santos who sent a curling ball to the top left corner of the net from outside the 18.

In the 90′, two new players made a gallant attempt to get the Crew the winning goal. Romario Williams sent a ball to Youness Mokhtar, who made his Crew debut subbing in for Luis Diaz in the 54′. Mokhtar sent a beautiful cross to Zardes who at 3 yards out skied the ball into the cross bar and over the open net. In the 93′, David Accam shot the ball into a FC Cincy defender which then again hit the cross bar. In the 99′, the Crew was denied when Zardes hit a header from a Afful cross that was pushed over the net by the Cincy keeper Przemyslaw Tyton. And finally, in the 100′, Zardes was once again denied a header off a Mokhtar corner kick by Tyton.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie with both sets of fans hungry for more. The second part of the ‘Hell is Real’ rivalry will take place on August 25th.

Thoughts on the Team

I said this on Twitter, and I will say it again. This is a game we should have won. However, it was a very fun game to attend. It was a sold out crowd with passionate fans there for both sides. It felt like a playoff match. This will be a fun rivalry.

Outside of David Guzman, I am very happy with the players Caleb Porter has brought in throughout the season. This includes Youness Mokhtar who in his debut looked sharp, hard working, and put in some great crosses.

We need to continue to work on not giving up goals on set pieces–especially corner kicks. Leaving men unmarked during corner kicks is unacceptable and needs to stop. We also need to get more men in the box on the attack. I can’t tell you how many times we’d be crossing in a ball and the only person there was Zardes. This will not get us goals.

Also, we need to play the first half like we play the second half. Porter is making great adjustments at halftime that have resulted in better results recently. However, we need to come out prepared if we really want to be a formidable team in the long run.

Finally, I really believe Caleb Porter needs to figure out what is causing this high number of injuries. With the injuries to Milton Valenzuela, Waylon Francis, and Hector Jimenez, we had to rely on a fourth string defender who struggled. Ever since Steve Tashjian left to work for Gregg Berhalter as the head performance specialist of the USMNT, our injury count has dramatically risen. It’s worth investigating.

Let’s hope we continue to get healthy and continue to improve as we take on Toronto FC this Saturday.

Also, shout out the Columbus Crew groundskeeping crew. The field was flawless.

Featured image: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Slowly Making Strides

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

The Columbus Crew played another three games in an eight day stretch, and with each game showed improvement.

A Loss in Orlando

First, the Crew played Orlando away from home. The line-up was different than what we have seen recently. It was essentially a 4-3-3. Francis, Sauro, Josh Williams, and Afful in the back. Artur, Trapp, and Guzman were in the midfield. Argudo, Zardes and Santos were the attacking three.

Both teams had some chances in the first half, but Orlando got the winning goal in the 84′ with a beautiful ball from Lamine Sane to an unmarked Benji Michel streaking between Josh Williams and Harrison Afful.

The Crew spent the remaining time repeatedly trying to score on Orlando but failing to do so. Afful had a nice shot in the 88′ that required a diving save from Rowe. In stoppage time, Afful sent a ball to Gyasi Zardes who headed it directly down into the ground in front of him instead of at the goal. Zardes had a second header that almost went in on a great service from Waylon Francis.

This game resulted in several injuries for the Crew. Both Guzman and Sauro are working back from injuries from this match, but the worst was an egregious foul on Josh Williams by Dom Dwyer who threw an elbow at Josh’s face. This resulted in a red card for Dwyer who took his sweet time leaving the field. At the end of stoppage time, Orlando kept their 1-0 lead.

A Draw in Chicago

On Wednesday, the Crew played the Chicago Fire. The Crew shifted their line up again. With the multiple games in 8 days, injuries, and call-ups, I am not sure how many times we have fielded the same starting line-up this season.

In the 28′, the Fire struck first with a nice hit by Djordje Mihailovic from right at the top of the 18. Djordje was given a little too much space by the Crew defense.

However, the Crew quickly responded in the second half with a ball from Sosa to Argudo to Zardes who put the ball in the net. In the 63′, the Fire took back the lead when a back heel pass from Gaitan bounced off Hector Jimenez to CJ Sarpong. Sarpong turned with the ball and scored.

The Crew tied up the game with the help of two recent acquisitions. Luis Diaz sent in a ball to Romario Williams who headed the ball into the net to end the game in a 2-2 tie.

A Win at Home against Montreal

This past Saturday, the Crew returned home and played the Montreal Impact. The Crew played a 4-3-2-1. The back four were Afful, Josh Williams, Keita , and Francis. Trapp and Artur played defensive midfield with Argudo, Santos, and Accam playing the attacking midfield roles. Gyasi Zardes was up top. Our new keeper, Eloy Room, made his first team start.

The Crew opened up the scoring early with a set piece from Wil Trapp that Josh Willams headed in the net in the 6′.

In the 14′, Montreal almost tied up the ball with their own free kick, but the cross bar prevented a goal twice, and in the 18′, Room made his first big save with the Crew from another Montreal free kick. However, the Crew couldn’t keep denying the Impact. Diallo was able to put in a corner during stoppage time of the first half to head into half-time with a 1-1 tie.

The Crew scored in the 46′ on a goal that almost wasn’t. David Accam scored a goal going around the keeper on a ball from Pedro Santos. Initially, Accam was ruled offsides. However, the officials decided to go to VAR and found that Accam was onside–giving the Crew a 2-1 lead, which they held until the end of the game.

Thoughts About the Team

The new additions are going to help this team immensely. We are continuing to add to this roster as the Crew has brought in midfielder Youness Mokhtar, and Scottish player Chris Caden. Caden will remain on loan to Oxford United FC until next season. Luis Diaz has already made some great plays. Eloy Room looked great in his first start, and Romario Williams scored in his first Crew appearance.

In addition, the great play of Pedro Santos and Luis Argudo should not go unnoticed, and David Accam has also been playing well since his return from injury.

This improvement in form may have come too late for this year’s team to make a strong run at or in the playoffs. However, it’s the MLS, so anything can happen. Let’s hope the Crew continue their slow and steady improvement in their next away match this Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Crew’s Woes Continue

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

After an exceptional run by the USWNT in the World Cup and an improvement in the USMNT during the Gold Cup , it was hard to watch the Crew, in comparison, lose their last three games in seven days. The losses continue to mount and while the Columbus Crew fans are definitely grateful to have a team, that team has been difficult to watch.

On Saturday, June 29, Columbus Crew took on Orlando City. In a game where the Crew dominated possession and limited Orlando to three shots, they still managed to lose the game 2-0. The best part of the game was honoring former club coach and legend Sigi Schmid into the Crew’s Circle of Honor at halftime. The Crew welcomed the Schmid family, watched tributes to Sigi, and presented the family with a beautiful collage of Sigi’s time in Columbus.

Then on Wednesday, July 3, the Crew traveled to Salt Lake City to take on RSL. Due to the three games in seven days, Caleb Porter made some line up changes. He gave JJ Williams the start at forward and Eduardo Sosa an elusive start in midfield; Niko Hansen returned from wherever Porter has been hiding him to play in the midfield, where he was joined by Ricardo Clark; Aboubacar Keita made his MLS debut at center back; and Joe Bendik made a grab for the starting goalkeeper position again.

While Caleb had limited player selection due to injury and call-ups when rotating his squad, it was nice to see some players who have gotten very little to no playing time a chance to prove if they were hungry enough to unseat the struggling starters.

Unfortunately, the Crew were unable to finish any shots, and Sam Johnson finished a beautiful opportunity by beating both Crognale and Keita to a long ball that they both let bounce over their heads.

Returning home this past Saturday, the Crew played the Seattle Sounders. In a game that honestly felt do or die, the Crew couldn’t hold on to an early lead and lost to Seattle 2-1.

With a slight tweak in the line up we have been seeing recently, Josh Williams stepped in at centerback, but JJ Williams and Joe Bendik kept their starting spots from the RSL game, playing forward and keeper respectively.

The Crew had hope for a possible victory after a PK by Pedro Santos in the 13′. However, Nicolas Lodeiro, who spent a lot of time rolling on the grass with dire injuries at MAPFRE Stadium, seemed to be the difference maker for Seattle. He sank a PK in the 56′ and scored a final goal for the Sounders in extra time. At the end of the game, multiple Crew players collapsed to the ground–exhausted from giving it their all, their all not being enough.

After the 1-2 loss to Seattle, multiple Crew players collapsed to the ground — exhausted from giving it their all, their all not being enough. Photo by Hilary.

Thoughts about the Team:

This is hard. Watching this team is hard. Because I feel for these guys. I believe they are putting everything they can out on the field. If we the fans feel frustrated, then I can’t even imagine how they feel. Do I think part of this is an emotional hangover from the past season and half of off-field drama? Yes, I do.

Did we have a time under Berhalter where we struggled to score goals? Yes, we absolutely did. But in those cases, we typically had a solid defense who minimized the damage the opposition did to us. This is not happening this year. And while I know we are missing Milton Valenzuela to injury, his replacement Waylon Francis is a very good left back. This can not be blamed on injuries.

Is Caleb Porter getting everything out of these guys that he can? I don’t know. I understand we have injuries and call ups, and while I don’t believe every player is elite caliber, I believe they can play a solid game of soccer. However, the adjustment between playing styles has not been as seamless as many thought, including Caleb himself.

However, this isn’t Caleb’s chosen roster. He inherited a roster in January that he had limited time to evaluate and tweak. Do I think a roster blow up is coming? Yes, I do. It’s already started. There will be many players that I will be heartbroken to lose. But to give Caleb a real chance to develop this club into what he thought it could be, it probably has to happen.

With recent additions coming in the transfer window of Eloy Room, keeper of the Curacao National team, Luis Diaz from Club Sport Herediano (Costa Rica) and Romario Williams from Atlanta United, it is hopeful that these players can make an immediate and positive impact for the struggling Crew when they take the field July 13 in a rematch against Orlando.

Featured image: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale