Tag Archives: Federico Higuain

Depleted Crew Hold On Against Revolution

By Hilary // @hils4crew

The Crew came up with a 1-0 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 6th.  The line-up was essentially the same as the last game except for Hector Jimenez who started in Harrison Afful’s typical spot.  Harrison Afful broke his jaw in a collision with a teammate in the waterlogged game last week in Columbus and will be out a minimum of six weeks.  The Crew have lost both their starting outside backs to injury this year. At least, we will see Afful again this season, while Milton Valenzuela, the left back, remains out for the season.

New England seemed to be the better team for much of the game.  It started off with a dangerous shot by Jalil Anibaba from outside the 18 yard box that a diving Zack Steffen saved.  In the 41’, the Crew’s defense continued their scoring run of the season with a Josh Williams header from a Federico Higuain free kick.  This assist tied Higuain for the most club assists with other Crew legend Robert Warzycha. Williams, who even went to Endeavor Brewing Company to celebrate with fans when the initial Saved the Crew announcement was made, ran over to the Nordecke to celebrate his goal with the fans.

In the 49’, Jonathan Mensah almost put another header in off a Pipa corner kick to continue the defensive line scoring trend, but was denied by midfielder Scott Caldwell with a goal line clearance.

In the 64’, defender Michael Mancienne took out Higuain resulting in his second yellow card of the night.  From that moment on, New England would be playing a man down. However, with the exception of one play in the second half, a beautiful ball from Jimenez to Gyasi Zardes for a header attempt in the 81’, the Crew seemed to be the team playing a man down.

New England continued to attack and almost evened up the score in the 88’.  Buchanan passed a very short ball to Teal Bunbury who crossed the ball right in front of the goal. Jimenez chested it towards Zack Steffen, but Cristian Penilla of New England was there to try and finish the ball into the back of the net.  Steffen stepped in front of the ball sending it away. Soon after, the final whistle blew.

Thoughts on the match:

This game had a lot of fouls.  The Crew committed 16 fouls while New England committed 10.  It was a chippy game, and the ref should have gotten a handle on it earlier.

During the game, Hector Jimenez went down right before half and looked to be in pain.  He was able to return into the match and finish out the game. I only hope that he stays healthy as we don’t have an experienced player who can fill that spot.  

I’m not sure what the coaching directions were once we went a man up.  It seemed to be play keep away by passing the ball in our own half of the field.  This was not a good strategy as a few bad passes led to some good attempts by New England to punish us for our mistakes.  The Crew should have been attacking or at least playing keep away further down the field.

Once again, Zack Steffen kept us in the match with several incredible saves.   We need a quality replacement for him, or we need to figure out how to clone him before he moves to Manchester City in June.

Finally, while I feel our defense played a solid game, our offense seemed a little lost. We need to figure out a way to get the offense clicking.  We can’t depend on our defensive players scoring all our goals for the rest of the season.

We will see if the offense can get it going this upcoming Saturday when the Crew play away against the Montreal Impact.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Déjà-Crew

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Wednesday, May 10: 1-2 Loss

Does this sound familiar–Columbus Crew SC losing another game where they were leading? Are the demons of Columbus Crew SC 2016 resurfacing?  Are we trying to play another match like we did against NYCFC a week and half ago?    Are you experiencing déjà-crew?  Because during this game, I definitely felt that I was.

Columbus Crew SC played a strong 65 minutes before the wheels came off.    Due to some hard work, Ola Kamara drew a foul that led to a PK, which Federico Higuain put away in the 28’.  Toronto FC’s keeper Alexander Bono dove before the ball even left Pipa’s feet. 

Not long after Columbus received their PK, Zack Steffen committed a foul in the 37’ resulting in a Jozy Altidore PK.  Zack Steffen guessed correctly stopping Altidore’s attempt to even the score.  Toronto started making offensive subs before the half putting in Tosaint Ricketts in the 40’ who became a difference maker for Toronto.

For the bulk of the first half, Columbus Crew SC maintained the majority of the possession, and a victory seemed within grasp.  During the second half, Crew SC seemed to struggle with possession and tired legs beginning around the 65’.  Then, acting coach Josh Wolff made his first sub, which I didn’t necessarily agree with, but he must have felt necessary putting on Jimenez for Williams in the 66’. 

Toronto found their footing in the game, and in the 81’ and 90’, the stadium watched as Ricketts finished both goals–the winning goal going through a slew of both Columbus Crew SC and Toronto players before Ricketts finished it. 

It’s another heartbreaking loss for Columbus Crew SC and the fans who saw another lead lost.  Déjà-Crew.

Some observations:

  • Higuain had another masterful game, but you could tell he was tired at the end.  It’s nice to see him have a consistent set of stellar games.
  • Abu looked much more comfortable in this game.  Previously, I thought he looked clunky and slow, but in this game, he seemed to have found his rhythm with his teammates.
  • It was nice to see the whole team celebrating our goal together.  Last year, I noticed there were a lot of times when that didn’t happen.  This seems like a pretty cohesive bunch, which I think will help the team get through these losses and find their form again.
  • I wore the same outfit to both games where Crew SC lost after having the lead.  I promise no more wearing that outfit to games.
  • Starting a long stretch of away games, hopefully, the Crew SC will fare better than they did during this home stand.

Up next, a Saturday match against Montreal Impact.  Let’s hope we don’t have another experience of déjà-crew. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Columbus Crew SC Recap

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, May 6: 2-0 Win

Gregg Berhalter started a slightly different line-up when Columbus Crew SC faced the New England Revolution on Saturday night–Waylon Francis and Hector Jiménez as the wing backs and Josh Williams at center back as Nicolai Naess was pushed up into the defensive midfield spot. 

Wil Trapp played the more offensive minded of the two in the center of the field this week as Abu was on the bench and Artur is making his way back from a broken wrist.  These changes could be a result of starters Raitala, Harrison, and Abu not having spectacular games last week (and Harrison welcoming a son into his family this week) or the fact that Columbus has three games in eight days. 

Either way, the changes seemed to work as Columbus Crew SC defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 with goals from Ola Kamara and Federico Higuaín who continues to be a man on fire on the field.

Let’s review the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful of this game:

The Good:  Zack Steffen.  He made some spectacular saves and kept Crew SC securely in the lead.  This young keeper continues to impress me in every game.  Wil Trapp.  I didn’t watch him every minute of the game, but I never saw him make a bad move the entire game. 

Also, I was pleased with the offensive movement of the ball.  A lot of players seemed involved throughout the game, which caused some problems for New England when we were on the attack.  For example, Kamara’s goal started with a nice ball from Mensah to Higuaín who made a deft turn and passed the ball to Meram who passed to Kamara who took a beautiful shot for a goal in the 13’. 

Our second goal was a result of a nice ball from Jiménez to Pipa to Kamara who held it and sent it back to Pipa for a goal in the 53’.   Finlay, Naess, and Trapp were also involved in some offensive passing that resulted in strong shots taken by Kamara and Meram.  If our players continue to involve everyone in the attack, Wil Trapp, and Higuaín continue to perform as they have, and Artur gets healthy, I really believe we will be a force to be reckoned with. 

The Bad:  We still lose possession for long stretches of time, and our defense, while significantly improved from last season, won’t be able to absorb that kind of pressure from every team–as witnessed last week in the loss against NYCFC.  After our first goal, New England kept possession for a good chunk of time and kept trying to force us to make a mistake that would give them a goal.  We were lucky that the crossbar stopped Lee Nguyen’s shot in the 21’ and no New England player got on the corner kick that went right across the mouth of our goal in the 31’.  Realistically, I know we can’t hold possession 100% of the game.  However, we need to find a way to prevent these long stretches of possession by our opponents. 

The Ugly:  Jonathan Mensah’s fouls in the 14’ and 16’ minutes.  I’m truly surprised that Mensah didn’t get a red card after that 16’ foul.  If he had gotten the red, this game could have had a much different result.  These fouls seemed like rookie mistakes from a player who is definitely not a rookie.  Despite these fouls, the rumblings on Twitter and fans’ comments in the stands, I feel like outside these two fouls Mensah had a solid game.  I still think he’s finding his way with the team having come late to preseason and then dealing with injuries.  I think he’s been given less leeway to adjust due to the outstanding play by rookie Alex Crognale, but I’m not ready to disregard what Mensah can bring to this team defensively.

Also ugly, Je-Vaughn Watson’s foul against Niko Hansen who came in for Ethan Finlay in the 73’.  In the 77’ as Niko was making a run and had touched the ball away from himself, Watson essentially clotheslined Niko down.  This resulted in a yellow card which most of the stadium thought should have been a red.  The lack of a red card had Gregg seeing red and after arguing with the ref about the call got himself ejected from the game.  I’m not going to lie; I laughed and a surge of pride flowed through me.  It’s nice to see the usually reserved Berhalter heated about a call.  Now, I don’t think he deserved to get ejected, but I’m not sure that really mattered to head referee Mark Geiger

The Beautiful:  The rainbow bending toward Nordecke in the first half—a sure sign that it was a night for a Crew SC victory.

Coming up:  A mid-week match against Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC.  Looking forward to seeing what these two teams will do on Wednesday night especially Crew SC without their coach on the sidelines.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Ouch, that Hurt

Hilary - Columbus
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, April 29: 2-3 Loss

Had I started writing match recaps last week, I would have started with, “Ouch that hurt,” due to the two injuries and uninspiring play by Columbus Crew SC against the New York Red Bulls.  And this week, I can start with the same line for a myriad of reasons.

Ouch that hurt.  Columbus Crew SC let a come from behind lead slip away resulting in a 3-2 loss against New York City FC.  NYCFC started off with an early lead in the 8th minute with a goal by Jack Harrison.  Columbus Crew SC answered with a goal by Federico Higuaín in the 29th minute entering into halftime with a draw.

Columbus started the second half with promise taking the lead 4 minutes into the second half with a goal by Ola Kamara.  And then, the wheels seemed to come off.  NYCFC answered with two more goals.  One by Yangel Herrera and a second by Jack Harrison. 

Let’s talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful parts of this game. 

The Good:  Federico Higuaín looked like a man driven by a cause for the bulk of this game.  He pressured, he passed, he shot, and he played what I think was one of his strongest games of the season.  This isn’t to say it was perfect.  There were times I felt like he tried to force a few things or put a few too many extra touches on the ball when it should have been passed faster or shot immediately, but it was nice to see his desire to win reflected in his play.  This is the Pipa we need to show up for all of Columbus Crew SC’s matches.

The Bad:  This game was a reminder of a lot of the games we lost last year—bleeding goals at the end of games.  However, I do believe this game might have been salvageable had Gregg subbed a bit earlier than he did.  In fact, I started screaming for him to sub around the 60th minute.  Obviously, Gregg couldn’t hear me from across the field, or I’m sure he would have followed my “expert” advice.  It was evident that after our second goal that we couldn’t possess, and we couldn’t absorb NYCFC’s attack forever.  Had Niko Hansen and Kekuta Manneh been subbed in earlier, this game may have ended up differently.

The Ugly:  NYCFC’s goals.  All three of them were ugly because we should have done better.  Two of their goals were caused by our own bad passes leading to giveaways in our half of the field.  After we lost the ball before their first goal, it seemed as if all the Crew SC players had been paused or put into slow motion as NYCFC tore through our players and scored.  Their last goal was a bad pass into our own box that should have never been placed there in the first place.  This is reminiscent of last year’s defensive woes that we haven’t seen as many times this year.  So, if our defense could just remain in 2017 and not flashback to 2016, we would all appreciate it.

The Beautiful:  Our goals were fun goals to watch.  We just didn’t score enough of them.  Higuaín’s volley from a beautiful Raitala cross was sharp and taken without hesitation.  Not to be outdone, Ola Kamara tried a similar kind of volley a little bit later in the game and almost had another goal.  Our second goal was accomplished by some hustle by Ethan Finlay who rattled a NYCFC defender enough to recover the ball and send it across the middle.  Using some unseen sense, Higuaín let the ball go between his legs with a deft step to a waiting Ola Kamara who sent it into the goal.  I want more of these kind of goals every game, but honestly, I’ll just take more goals than our opponent–even if they aren’t as pretty as these.

All in all, this was a game that should have been a win for Crew SC as NYCFC was missing Pirlo and Villa.  We have a few more home games before hitting the road, and I’m looking forward to seeing who this Crew SC team is.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017