Category Archives: Columbus Crew SC

Columbus Crew SC

Crew SC Open Cup: Round 1

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Wednesday, June 6: 2(9)-2(10)

Columbus Crew SC took on the Chicago Fire Wednesday night in the first round of the US Open Cup.  Due to having three MLS games in twelve days, Crew SC rolled out a lot of reserve players.  But, I felt very confident that these reserve players could get a result.

Cristian Martinez opened the scoring up in the 10’ after receiving a beautiful pass from Niko Hansen.  While Crew SC didn’t dominate the half, it looked likely they would go in at halftime with the lead.  Nemanja Nikolic of the Chicago Fire had a different idea though and redirected a ball into the goal on a Rafael Ramos cross.  However, if Nikolic hadn’t finished it, Diego Campos was making a backdoor run unmarked and would’ve finished it instead.

Ending regulation time with a 1-1 tie, the game went into two fifteen-minute halves.  In the 109’, Nikolic struck again.  Aleksandar Katai chipped it over Crew SC keeper Logan Ketterer who got his hand on the ball but volleyed it behind him.  It was an easy finish for Nikolic who was waiting on the other side of the keeper. 

In the 114’, Adam Jahn leveled the score when Luis Argudo sent a short corner to Cristian Martinez.  Martinez sent a nice cross into the box that Adam Jahn headed into the net.

After extra time, the game went into penalty kicks.  I’ve seen my team’s playoff run ended by penalty kicks, and I’ve seen them advance on them as well.  But personally, I have never seen a game where penalty kicks go through the whole team and end up with the keepers taking PKs

Nemanja Nikolic who scored both of the Fire’s goals during the game clanged the crossbar to miss the first PK of the night.  Hector Jimenez took Crew SC’s second PK of the night, which was saved.  It continued with all other players making their PKs until it was down to Chicago’s keeper Richard Sanchez and Columbus’s keeper Logan Ketterer.  Ketterer’s shot wasn’t quite hard enough and was saved while Sanchez finished his shot to allow Chicago to advance in the Open Cup with a score of 2 (9)- 2 (10). 

A couple of thoughts about the match:

It was great to see Gaston Sauro on the pitch as this was his first game back at home since October 2016.  He has been recovering from injury and surgery which could have ended his soccer career.  I continue to look forward to Sauro making his way back into the starting lineup for Crew SC.

After Eduardo Sosa’s Crew SC debut as a substitute in last Saturday’s game against Toronto FC, he got the start and played the whole game in this match.  I continue to marvel at Gregg Berhalter’s ability to find young talent.  Between Argudo, Sosa, Valenzuela, and Opoku, Berhalter has a lot of young talented players that will make this Crew SC team a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

In all honesty, while I love the Open Cup, I also loathe it.  During the 2013 Open Cup, Eddie Gaven, my favorite Crew SC player, was injured and retired shortly after the 2013 season.  I still wonder to this day what might have been had he not been injured in this tournament. 

So, I am incredibly thrilled that none of our guys got hurt in the match and look forward to Crew SC’s upcoming MLS matches.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Karma…works in Columbus Crew’s favor

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, June 2: 3-3 Draw

On Saturday, Columbus Crew SC took on Toronto FC for the Trillium Cup.  With Wil Trapp and Zach Steffen away on International duty, Jonathan Mensah and Pedro Santos out with injury, and Cristian Martinez out for disciplinary issues, Crew SC had Mike Grella and Niko Hansen start out on the wings, Ricardo Clark play in Wil Trapp’s spot, and Jon Kempin fill in for Steffen. 

Crew SC did not play a strong first 60 minutes.  Due to a foul in the 17’, Toronto earned a PK that Victor Vazquez buried.  Tosaint Ricketts, a first-half sub for Toronto, scored a goal in the 38’, and Sebastian Giovinco buried a free kick in the 57’.   Down 3-0, it didn’t look great for the black and gold, but this team has proven time and time again that it shouldn’t be counted out.

Last November during the playoffs against Toronto, Michael Bradley commented on the Crew’s possible move to Austin essentially saying that Columbus hasn’t kept up with the league.  Apparently, karma can come back to get you as Michael Bradley struggled in the last thirty minutes of the game resulting in a 3-3 tie and the Trillium Cup being given to Columbus.

The first goal came off a corner kick earned when Michael Bradley deflected a ball from Eduardo Sosa for a Crew SC corner.  Frederico Higuain sent in a ball that Gyasi Zardes headed into the goal.  Then, Crew SC earned a free kick that Higuain sent in, Josh Williams headed it across the goal.  Bradley brought it down, but Homegrown player Alex Crognale stepped up on the ball and shot it into the bottom corner of the net.  Then near the end of the game, Bradley hit the back of Zardes leg in the box—resulting in a PK that Higuain buried to tie the game in the 90’. 

Some thoughts about the game:

In the 62’, Gregg Berhalter decided to make all his substitutions at once sending in Eduardo Sosa for Hansen, Luis Argudo for Grella, and Alex Crognale for Abubakar.  I don’t know if I have ever seen this before, but all three subs definitely impacted the game in positive ways.

This was Sosa’s MLS debut, and I’ll be excited to see what the Higuain heir-apparent does with more minutes and more development.

If I haven’t said it before, I’m a huge fan of veteran Ricardo Clark.  This was a great offseason pickup by Gregg Berhalter. 

This Saturday, Crew SC face the New York Red Bulls.  Let’s see if Gregg Berhalter and his team can continue their unbeaten streak to nine games.

Featured image: Hilary

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Columbus Crew SC vs San Jose Earthquakes

 

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

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.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Milton Valenzuela image: Hilary @hils4crew

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.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Pipa image: Hilary @hils4crew

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

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Hold Me, I’m Scared – Atlanta United’s First Playoff Game

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Thoughts about Atlanta United’s first MLS Playoff game

I’m so nervous. I’ve not been this freaked out about a sporting event ever. I’m not even sure writing this is a good idea, but I feel like if I get this out of my system, I’ll feel better. Maybe. Possibly. Or not. I don’t know.

This article from Dirty South Soccer sums up a lot of what I’m thinking/feeling this week:

I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions this year thanks to Atlanta United. This year has been everything I expected and more. Now that we’re just a little over 24 hours before actually playing a playoff game, though… *breathes into paper bag*

ATLUTD has played Columbus Crew three times this year: once in preseason at the Carolina Challenge Cup (Columbus won 2-1) and twice in the first half of the regular season (both wins for Atlanta). Both teams play a similar style of attacking soccer. Atlanta is favored to win this game, but it doesn’t seem likely to be an easy victory.

Atlanta does have home field advantage, though – and with over 70,000 people expected at this game (for the third time in just over a month and second in less than a week!), it’ll be LOUD.

In the meantime, though, I’ll be over here scrubbing my floors with a toothbrush or trying to braid my dog’s fur just to kill time…*breathing into paper bag again*

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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2017 MLS Playoff Preview

A collaboration by official reporters of MLSFemale @MLSFemale

With Major League Soccer, there is no greater prize than the MLS Cup. Twelve teams, 6 from each conference, are vying for the chance to lift the ultimate prize of the league’s 22nd season. Here’s a quick rundown from our MLSFemale squad:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Cris Payne - Toronto FC/mlsfemale 

By Cris Payne // @crissypayne

Toronto FC: AND NOW YOU’RE GUNNA BELIEVE US, we’ve gone and won the league! Suffice it to say the city of Toronto is over the moon with our accomplishments this season and we are looking forward to what we hope is a great playoff run. Michael Bradley succinctly put our season in summation by saying “…we went after every game from 1 to 34 like it was the only thing that mattered.” (source)

I think they can be proud that they never really wavered on that goal and it paid off. As a member of the Kings in the North, one of the official protectors of the Supporters’ Shield during it’s stay in Toronto, I look forward to spending some time up close and personal with it.

Our playoff future looks bright; one is left hoping that we take that same winning mentality into the playoffs and consider every opponent and every game with care. Finishing off the regular season at Atlanta was also a good test for us to end on. Fresh to the league, they were the one team I felt we hadn’t had a proper chance to sound out back in April. Having seen their house and how they feel about our players (your hate makes them strong, our love makes them unstoppable), I now feel confident that Toronto FC has the arsenal to make a successful playoff run. And as Giovinco has shown, this team is ready for whatever is thrown at them. So bring on our second (okay fine, third) go at it, we’re here to win it all!

*NYCFC: Not gonna lie: this team gets measurably better every year. With head coach Patrick Vieira, the Pigeons have made it to their 1st MLS post season in style, with a bye for the knockout round. Legend David Villa and newcomer Jack Harrison, as well as the rest of the squad, are going to face their first opponents well rested and ready for a run. Just how far can the boys in blue go their first time out?

Nicole - Chicago head

By Nicole Hack // @nikhak

Chicago Fire: Nine months ago Fire fans were excited for the club’s new signings  – with Dax McCarty, Juninho, Niko, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, certainly the Men in Red wouldn’t finish last place again – would they?

By early June, fans knew that not only were the Chicago Fire going to dig themselves out from the bottom of the table, but the likelihood that they would be playoff contenders looked promising.

David Accam, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juninho, amongst others have been battling injuries, just returned from injury, or will return from injury for the playoffs. Is the squad recovering at the appropriate time? With key players on the bench over the last couple of months, other players gained experience – this will certainly help strengthen roster options when Veljko Paunovic looks to his bench for substitution options.

Who will get the nod for the goalkeeper position? Matt Lampson, who has been with the team since February of 2016 and a total of 34 games played for the Fire? Or will Richard Sanchez start in net after only recently signing with the Fire?

We supporters are excited for the playoffs, for the opportunities that lie ahead, and for a home game, but we’re also realistic, especially after the last two unfortunate seasons.

¡Vamos, Chicago!

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Atlanta United: Well, here we are…The new kids in the league are in the playoffs. A 4th place finish to the regular season is better than where I thought we’d be at the beginning of the season. This gives us home field advantage for Thursday’s knockout round game – and home field advantage in Mercedes-Benz Stadium could be significant. We’ve also won both games against Columbus (#SaveTheCrew!) earlier this season – although we did lose to them in the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup in February.

This team is much stronger now. They’ve now had an entire season to get to know each other. We have a solid starting lineup – even with a few subs because of injuries. And with over 70,000 people expected at the game on Thursday to cheer them on, I think Atlanta United has a really good chance at hoisting that cup in December.

The boys are ready for this. Atlanta is ready for this.

Atlanta wants the Cup.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Columbus Crew:  In the middle of the season, the Crew was struggling and looked unlikely to make the playoffs, but Berhalter seems to have the magic touch with his team at the end of the season.  The tie against NYCFC took the Crew’s unbeaten streak to 10.  It kept the team in the 5th spot while a win could’ve put them in 2nd place. 

The team is dealing with a lot of distractions with a fan base who passionately loves them and is distraught that an owner would take them away.  (#savethecrew)  However, if the team can keep their form and absorb the passion the fans are showing them, they actually have a chance against Atlanta.  Although, it will be a tough away game.  The fans really need them to win, so we have a home playoff game to show how much we love the players. 

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

New York Red Bulls: Whew! Just made it in under the wire. But RBNY is in the playoffs for the 8th season in a row. Always the bridesmaid, RBNY is the only MLS 1.0 team (originally the NY/NJ Metrostars) never to lift the MLS Cup. Coach Jesse Marsch has said that the team has been the favorite during the playoffs to no avail and that it’s time to be underdog.

I’m expecting a solid performance from Tyler Adams and the rest of the back line as well as more attacking from Daniel Royer. Defender Aurelien Collin has been working his way back to full health, and Jesse hopes to be able to bring him back into the 18. Dax McCarty and the Chicago Fire are the first obstacle in the knockout round, and another edition of the Hudson River Derby is practically guaranteed after that. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is. Fight Together.

#knockoutround
Image courtesy: @MLS

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

Portland Timbers: It is not an overstatement to say that for the Timbers this Sunday’s game was the most important game of the year up to this point. The Cascadia Cup was on the line, as was the chance to win the conference and a first round bye.

With a Portland win, they have won the West and a first round bye. They also take back the Cascadia Cup, the coveted supporter-owned trophy awarded to whichever northwest team has the best finish among the three Cascadia-area squads. If Portland had tied or lost, Seattle would have taken the Cup, and Portland would almost certainly have dropped to third or fourth place, hosting a midweek knockout round game.

As I expected, Attinella remained in goal, with Vytas and Powell on the wings, and Mattocks up top as we wait for Fanendo Adi to be match fit. And with PTFC’s Mattocks being a former Whitecaps player there was plenty of opportunity for a knife-twisting match finish as he gave us the go-ahead goal to seal the deal. Now we wait to see who makes it out of the knockout round.

Jennifer Denton - Seattle Sounders/mlsfemale

By Jennifer Denton // @darkwynds

Seattle Sounders: It is finally time to defend our cup.  This year has been such an up and down year.  There are days where we look like the team from last year’s run.  And then there are games where we look like a team that hasn’t even played together before. 

The game against FC Dallas gives me hope that maybe we are turning a corner.  With a win on Sunday gives us a much needed bye.  This will give the team time to heal up.  I can’t wait for this run at the MLS cup.  I really hope the top team in the East loses so we can host the cup this year!!

Christy Casas - Vancouver Whitecaps/mlsfemale

By Christy Casas // @nkstar9

Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps were able to pull themselves above the red line in a very decisive way, landing themselves in 3rd place in the Western conference after flirting with the top spot for a hot minute. They will meet the San Jose Earthquakes in the knockout round at home in Vancouver. This is a decided advantage for the Whitecaps, as BC Place has been a fortress for the team this season.

*Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo played VERY well at home this year, giving up only one game at home at BBVA during the regular season. And they have to be looking forward to the opportunity to take on Sporting KC again, having just beaten them at home less than two weeks ago and drawing them in Kansas City shortly thereafter. If they manage to pull it off, their next opponent will be one of the top two finishers in the West, Portland or Seattle.

kirsten-sporting-or

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

Sporting KC: I am not pleased with how this season ended, and I am not pleased that Sporting fell from 1st to 5th in the West over the last third of the season. If we’re going to make it anywhere in the playoffs we have to do one thing…score goals. It seems like that should be pretty easy, but obviously it’s not since SKC scored just 3 goals in their last 5 games.

If the Sporting team from the beginning of the season comes back then we could be in good shape, but the run will be hard since we have no home field advantage. Hopefully, with this being the third game against Houston in a two week span we’ll have them figured out. Sporting, don’t make this city regret all the energy you put into the US Open Cup. We need some of that magic for the playoffs.

*San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes had a wild finish to the regular season, with the winning goal coming three minutes into stoppage time against expansion side Minnesota United. Now they travel to Canada on only three days rest for a single game elimination round. They may still manage the upset against a Whitecaps squad that is struggling to put games away at precisely the wrong time in the season.

If San Jose can pull it off, they will face Portland in a conference semifinal, a team they’ve beaten at home twice during the regular season.

(Teams marked with a * do not have an official reporter from MLSFemale. If you support any of these teams, find your inner reporter and contact us!)

Featured image courtesy: @MLS

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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Save the Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

I have held on writing this article because I’ve been processing and crying and then processing and crying, and then processing and gearing up to fight.

Leaked early by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl late Monday night and announced by Anthony Precourt on Tuesday, Precourt is looking at “possibly” moving the team to Austin, Texas after the Crew’s 2018 season if a downtown stadium can not be built in Columbus.  I say “possibly” because everything Precourt has done screams that he has no intention of keeping the Crew in Columbus, no matter what the city does to appease his demands.

Precourt didn’t even make the announcement in Columbus, leaving the players and coaches to deal with the media alone after just finding out about this Tuesday morning.  He’s flown to Austin to meet with city leadership.  Our mayor has stated that while they have discussed some options, the ownership of the team has not really been fully engaged.  

He has ignored an offer by local Columbus partners to invest and become 50% owners.  It’s been rumored that these local investors offered $75 million for a 50% share in the team, which is more than he paid when he purchased the team.  There’s a huge trail of clues that this has been Precourt’s intention for some time.   

I don’t know if Precourt thought we would roll over and let this happen. This is just an illustration of how out of touch Precourt is with the fans of the team he owns and the city where it is located.  Immediately, cries of #savethecrew spead across twitter and the rest of the internet.  

Then, it went beyond just Crew fans.  It has spread across the league, and then to other leagues, and then continued to spread even further.  They all realize that Columbus is an important part of MLS history as one of the original teams.  They all realize that if the MLS allows this to happen, then no team is safe.  They all know how it feels to really love a soccer team.  They know how much it would hurt to lose it. So they are supporting the fans of the Crew.  

They are doing things like changing their own teams’ badges to black and gold, tweeting and writing owners about how bad this decision would be, volunteering to hang banners in their own stadiums.  We, as a soccer community are united and it brought, and continues to bring, tears to my eyes.  How we all realize these things, and Anthony Precourt doesn’t, is beyond me.  

So, how can you help?

If you are in or can get to Columbus this Sunday, October 22nd, attend the rally at Columbus’s City Hall at noon.  

If you are in Columbus or not, you can still help.  

  • Contact the cooperate sponsors of the Crew and let them know how you feel about this.  
  • Contact other MLS teams encouraging them to not allow this to happen.
  • Sign the petition to save the Crew.  
  • Tweet about saving the Crew.  
  • Bring banners about this and wear yellow to your teams’ matches.
  • Do not let them forget this after a few days.  Keep doing these things.

All the information about all those activities (including the petition) can be found at savethecrew.com including email template letters to the corporate sponsors of the Crew and to the MLS teams (along with contact information).  

In many ways, the Crew has saved me with the community and family it has provided to me.  So, it is time for us to Save the Crew.  Please help us do it.  #savethecrew

Featured image courtesy: @zvchlilly

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Clinched It – Columbus Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, September 30: 2-0 Win

On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC did what they did not look able to do in the middle of the season—clinch a playoff spot.  What spot they actually finish in is still unknown, but Crew SC will play at least one playoff game during the 2017 MLS season. 

Columbus Crew SC won 2-0 against one of their oldest rivals, DC United, who had a familiar face in the net.  Former Crew SC keeper Steve Clark was picked up by DC and faced his former teammates.  There wasn’t a lot Steve could have done to stop Crew SC’s two goals though.

In the first quarter of the game, Crew SC seemed to dominate play.  Josh Williams headed in an Higuain corner kick in the 14’ to score the game’s first goal.  Clark was pretty much left out to dry by his defense who left Josh unmarked.

In the middle of the game, it was much more of a back and forth match, but unlike earlier in the season, I never felt a sense of dread that Crew SC might let DC back into this match.  Their unbeaten streak has given the team a much-needed boost of confidence and camaraderie, which has started to radiate into the stands as well.

This isn’t to say that DC didn’t have their chances, but Zack Steffen continues to make great saves.  I hope that at some point the USMNT take notice of Steffen.

In the 56’, Artur sent a ball across the field toward Jimenez who let the ball go through his legs to Justin Meram.  Meram hit a beauty of a shot into the far side of the goal.  As the ball went toward the goal, I was pretty sure he was going to miss.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I don’t think Clark had a chance to save the shot.  I don’t think many keepers could have saved it. 

Other thoughts about the match and Crew SC happenings:

TIFOSweat gets a huge shout out for the large TIFO they did to honor Frederico Higuain who had given all of us the impression that this might be his last season in the black and gold. 

However, not only did Crew SC clinch the playoffs this week, but they also locked up Pipa for another year.  Did the TIFO play a role in his decision?  No one will ever know, but I’m going to go with yes.  He is essential to this team, as I’ve said all season, so I’m glad to see him back for another year.  Now, we just need to lock up Artur.

You can tell both Pipa and Santos grew up playing soccer with a similar mindset.  They are often at the same place on the field at the same time.

If you had asked me to make a bet at the beginning of the season who I thought our starting center backs would be by the end of the season, I would have lost that bet.  Who would have thought Josh Williams and Mensah would be our center back pairing?  But it works.  They look much more confident than any other pairing we have seen this year. 

Finally, I know there was talk on Twitter, and apparently Facebook, about how to handle facing Steve Clark.  Some people wanted to boo him before and after the game and some during the game.  People can obviously do whatever they want to do within reason.    During the game, I laughed when we scored on him and some chanted, “Steve says, ‘Yes!’” as some good-natured ribbing during the game is part of the sport. 

However, I was proud that before the game and after the game the fans cheered Steve.  Despite the goal that will live in infamy during the 2015 MLS Cup, Steve was a solid keeper for this team.  He brought spirit and leadership to a team that desperately needed it, and he loved the fans of this club.  Steve Clark will always be a Crew SC player that I respect and who played lights out soccer in a system where the defense in front of him isn’t always a keeper’s best friend.  Despite how much I respect Steve though, I was glad we scored two goals.

After a break in the action, Crew SC picks back up and plays its last two games on the road to see which playoff spot it will actually have.  And I am going to enjoy the journey.

Featured image courtesy: @JustinMeram

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Crew SC Unbeaten in Seven

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, September 23: 3-2 Win

While the calendar says September, Saturday night at Mapfre Stadium felt like the middle of July as Columbus Crew SC took on the New York Red Bulls in the continued hunt for a playoff spot.

Crew SC rolled out the same line-up that started at Vancouver with two exceptions–Mensah returned at centerback and Justin Meram returned to left wing.  This time, however, we had a different result than Vancouver with a 3-2 win for the Black and Gold.

Scoring started with Crew SC in the 6’ as Higuain sent in a free kick that Mensah headed into the net.  You could see the joy on the center back’s face as he celebrated his goal with the team. 

New York was quick to tie it up in the 14’.  Columbus felt one of the New York players had been offsides, but the AR did not make the call and Bradley Wright-Phillips finished the goal.  BWP was given much too much space regardless.  With a goal scorer like that, defenders should not give him any space. 

Santos was fouled in the 39’, but the ref let play continue on to the Crew’s advantage.  Ola Kamara, virtually alone as a defender tried to catch up with him, tried to chip the keeper to tie the game, but he overshot the goal.  Kamara continues to miss the chances you think he should finish and finish shots that look nearly impossible.

Crew SC took the lead again in the 54’ when Meram took on two New York defenders and shot the ball into the net.

In the 66’, Josh Williams who apparently didn’t want to be outdone by his center back partner decided it was time for a goal.  His first since 2013.  He headed in a Higuain corner kick for goal number three of the game.

New York wasn’t done yet.  In the 69’, Mensah fouled Gonzola Veron.  There was some heated argument from both sides as the foul occurred outside the field of play but kept Veron from getting to the ball.  After video review, the Red Bulls were granted the penalty kick, which Veron finished. 

Crew SC was able to hold the Red Bulls off resulting in a victory and 3 more points toward making the playoffs.

Some thoughts on the match:

Pipa had all three assists in this match.  He continues to show why he is a central cog for this team

Meram scored a goal.  It was pretty.  However, there are a lot of times when he should pass and doesn’t.  I don’t want him to stop trying to take on defenders.  I just wish his judgment on when to do this and when to pass would improve.

The refs in this game were horrible.  As a player, I was always taught you play the refs’ game.  Arguing calls wasn’t going to help, so you don’t.  Those words to live by would have gone down the drain had I been a player on the field on Saturday night.  I think the officiating wasn’t great for either team.

After the Red Bulls scored their second goal, I grew concerned that this would turn into another game like Vancouver where they scored to tie it up near the end of the game.  Or, it would be like earlier in the season where we gave away a lead.  I was pleased to see that Crew SC can finish out a match as I’m sure this skill will be necessary if we plan on winning any playoff games.

I do not understand Sacha Kljestan’s moustache.  Please someone explain it to me….

This season has gone incredibly fast and next Saturday is Columbus Crew SC’s last regular season home game against DC United.  It would be nice to get 3 points from this match and help solidify a playoff spot.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Columbus Crew SC vs. Sporting Kansas City

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Sunday, September 10: 1-1 Draw

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Columbus Crew SC played Sporting Kansas City to a pretty uninspiring draw in one of Crew SC’s final three home games of the regular season. 

Kansas City struck first scoring a goal in the 19’ on an unnecessary failed bicycle clearance by Jonathan Mensah.  SKC’s Cristian Lobato took the missed clearance and nutmegged Crew SC’s keeper while he was trying to stop the shot. 

There were a few opportunities for Crew SC in the first half to equalize, and they felt like the more dominant team.  In first half stoppage time, Ola Kamara headed in a beautiful goal off a Pedro Santos’ corner kick to finish the half with a 1-1 draw.

The second half didn’t provide a lot to write home about.  This could have been a game like many others earlier in the season where Crew SC gave away a draw for a loss, but they held on for a point. 

Some thoughts about the game:

Pedro Santos is good.  Really good.  I don’t want Kei Kamara back, but I’m pretty sure if he was, Pedro would put every corner kick or set piece directly on to his head.   He can see the field and the plays before they happen.  I think he will be Schelotto-like—making all the players around him even better as he grows to know his teammates, and they grow to know him.

What is with both Santos and Higuain standing together to take corner kicks?  Is it to confuse the defenders with who may kick the ball?  It’s a corner kick.  Most of the time, it is going into the mass of players in front of the goal.  Wouldn’t it be better to have another man in front of the goal or someone to clean up any balls that leak through from the corner kick instead of having two players standing over the ball to kick it?

Honestly, I imagined them having this conversation at the corner flag:

Pipa:  I really should take the corner. I’ve been on the team a long time.  I’m good at it.

Santos:  I’m new.  Let me give it a try.  Plus, if they’re anything like your PK taking ability maybe I should take them…

Then I laughed at my crazy imagination, and figured this is some kind of game plan Gregg has conjured up for corner kicks that I just don’t understand.

Finally, the second half really wasn’t very exciting soccer.  This made Gregg’s substitutions in the second half even more puzzling.  Ola Kamara was subbed out in 64’ for Adam Jahn, Pedro Santos was subbed out in the 65’ for Cristian Martinez, and Jimenez was subbed out for Afful in 84’.   Bringing Afful in, I can understand as he is working his way back from an injury, and I found out later that Kamara is fighting an injury.  However, why not bring on Manneh instead of Jahn for Meram or Kamara?  Why pull Santos off the field? 

It felt like Gregg was playing for the tie, and with Crew SC’s track record of giving up goals earlier in the season, I kind of understand this decision.  However, we are in a precarious spot in the playoff hunt.  We have 1 to 4 games on hand on teams that can challenge us for a playoff spot, and we need all the points we can get. 

Thoughts on the previous week’s happenings:

I’ve been absent writing for the last few games.  Real life has kind of been busy, but I’m back on the beat.  I had some thoughts about the last few matches or off field happenings that I wanted to share:

Nicolai Naess was recently traded.  We evidentially made a profit from his transfer.  He played a great long pass, and he stayed calm on the ball.  I never understood why he got benched.  I feel like his absence is a real loss for the team.  However, I’m happy he will go somewhere he can contribute. 

Frederico Higuain has recently stated that he believes this will be his last season in a Crew SC uniform.  Is this a negotiation tactic?  Who knows?  However, I still feel like Crew SC is a better team with Pipa on it.  I wonder if having someone like Santos on the team that thinks as fast as he does on the field will help change his mind about sticking around for another season.  Seeing Santos and Pipa when they have had even more time to gel on the field would be a sight to behold.

I also know that Ola Kamara wants to renegotiate his contract as well.  This man needs to get paid.  He is our only true forward.  We need to work on bringing someone else in as well because if his injury develops into something more serious, we will be in trouble.  Plus, we just need another forward.

During the LA Galaxy vs. Crew SC game, VAR (video assistant referee) was used three times in pretty significant ways during the game resulting in a PK, red card, and call back of a goal.  All these calls went in Crew SC’s favor.  Being there, I can say it was a crazy short stretch of time.  I’m not sure how I feel about VAR.  It did break up the flow of the game a bit, but I don’t know how often it will impact a game as much as it did this one. 

Finally, I have given Mensah and Abu a lot of criticism this season.  Some justified criticisms–some probably not.  These two have been brilliant in the last few games.  They both seem confident and are working well with their teammates on the field.   Yes, Mensah did make a mistake in this week’s game, but he stayed confident afterward and continued to make strong defensive plays the rest of the game. 

This is a different guy from the beginning of the season.  If the same mistake had happened to him earlier in the season, I think you would have seen shaky play the rest of the game.  Gregg Berhalter may have final found a centerback combination that works and another good center midfield option. 

Hopefully, the team can stay confident and dominant against the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday and earn 3 much needed road points to help solidify the road to the playoffs. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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A Team Win for the Crew

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, August 12: 3-1 Win

It was a fun night at Mapfre Stadium Saturday night as Columbus Crew SC defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1. It was a match that could have had a lot more goals in it, but both teams struggled to put away some chances. Crew SC rolled out the same line up they have been sticking with as of late a 3-5-2-1. Some highlights and thoughts on the match:

Crew SC came out attacking and pressuring the ball early. However, they did not keep possession for most of the game. This is one of the few times I don’t feel like the lack of possession hurt them. They may be figuring out how to make this formation successful for themselves.

In the 13’, the Fire scored. Our defense including Steffen just decided Michael deLeeuw was offside, but the refs didn’t agree. This is Soccer 101. Don’t stop playing until the whistle is blown. The Fire has been dominant with wins when scoring first, but not this time….

Artur continues to be the Energizer Bunny on the field. However, he may want to work on his shooting. Artur had many different opportunities to score a goal. The one mentioned above in the 2’, a header in the 5’, and not being able to finish a Manneh cross in the 11’.

Kekuta Manneh’s goal in the 18’ was an example of being at the right place at the right time and being able to finish that opportunity. Artur took a shot that deflected off a Fire defender right to Manneh who was able to put the ball in the back of the net.

The second goal in the 73’ was the result of vintage Francis cross to Meram. It is what got Francis to the All-Star Game in 2015, and it is why I believe Waylon should remain the starter on that side of the field. He also made a key defensive play in the 77’ when he took the ball from a Fire player who would have had an uncontested shot.

Meram scored our second goal, and it was a beauty. It was the 1,000 Crew SC goal. There were times during this game that I was in awe of his movements, and then there were times when I wondered why he was taking extra touches and losing the ball instead of passing it. If Pipa really does leave the Crew SC next year, Meram will have to fine-tune a bit to become the playmaker on this team. I’m confident he can do it.

Harrison Afful played just the first half working himself back from injury. This was a solid performance from Afful, which we haven’t seen a lot this season. It makes me wonder if he’s had lingering injuries for the majority of the season even when he was playing.

This was a must-win game for Crew SC. They are just above the playoff line, and they need to prove that they are a team to contend with. They did, and it was fun to watch.

Schweinsteiger was not as big of a factor in this game as I thought he would be. I don’t know if that’s because of where he was playing or how we played against him.

It was nice to see Matt Lampson back in Mapfre stadium. I really miss his “Off The Post” video clips when he was with Crew SC. If you have never seen them, you should go to YouTube and watch. One time he talked about his favorite song by Amy Grant. Watching those clips usually resulted in me laughing with tears streaming from my eyes. I’m not sure the PK call should have been one. I’ve watched replays, and I still can’t decide. Either way, it was a rough game for Lampson.

On a personal note, for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know that I am a huge Ethan Finlay fan—my dog is even named after him. His trade to Minnesota broke my heart. While some felt it was time for him to go, I was hoping Ethan would be a Crew SC lifer. He gave 100% every time he was on the field and just exemplified to me what it meant to be a Crew SC player.

My only regret is that I never got to meet Ethan. I wish nothing but the best for Ethan Finlay, and I’ll be paying more attention to Minnesota from now on. I hope they realize what an amazing player and person they have on their team. My last 3 favorite players have either retired or been traded, so I’m trying not to have another favorite player. I don’t know if my heart can take it.

At the conclusion of this match, I couldn’t decide who should be Man of the Match. Overall, everyone played well. It was a team win. This is the way I believe a successful game should feel.

We play Orlando City this Saturday, and to continue our winning ways from this match, we need to continue to have all our players firing on all cylinders. I look forward to watching.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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