Tag Archives: Gregg Berhalter

Crew vs Atlanta and Minnesota

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

This past Saturday, there were fireworks at Mapfre Stadium.  Not because the game was fantastic, but because there were actually fireworks after the game.  It’s a good thing there were fireworks.  Otherwise, the crowd may not have stuck around to watch the whole game as Columbus Crew SC lost to Atlanta United 2-0.

The game seemed choppy from the get go—neither team really finding their flow.  It seemed like there were a lot of tiny fouls that constantly got called, and the passing never really seemed to move.

Both goals were scored by Atlanta’s Hector Villalba in the 27’ and 64’.   Gregg Berhalter tried subbing in Manneh and Jahn to make a difference like in the previous game, but unlike last game, the subs couldn’t turn the game around.  It’s a game that begs to be forgotten. 

Some plays that caught my attention:

  • On Atlanta’s first goal, Mensah missed a header he should have had.  He played more confidently in the second half, winning challenges, and stepping to the ball more, but he still hasn’t found firm footing within the backline.
  • Afful also seemed to have moments of struggle having his pocket picked by Almiron in the 11’ that resulted in a sharp shot off the post.

Then, on Tuesday, Crew SC played another unremarkable game against Minnesota United resulting in a 1-0 win for the Black and Gold.  Berhalter did some significant changes to his formation most likely due to a combination of poor play against Atlanta and the quick turnaround time between games.

He rolled out a 3-4-3 lining up Naess, Crognale, and Abubakar in the back, resting Higuain who didn’t even dress for the 18, playing Jimenez for Afful, and starting Manneh over Meram who came off the bench in the 63’. 

The team didn’t see many chances in the first half, and outside of the last ten minutes of the first half didn’t seem to have much possession either.   Although, I don’t think the lineup Berhalter played is meant to be as possession-oriented as our typical formation. 

In the second half, Minnesota had many opportunities to attack.  Eventually though, Crew SC placed their own attack.  Manneh did a spin move to break away from a Minnesota defender.  No one else stepped up, giving him space, so he made a shot from outside of the 18 resulting in his second goal in three games. 

 

After Meram came in, we seemed to have more of an offensive spark.  He crossed a ball to Finlay in the 66’ that Finlay missed but should have put away.  In the 73’, Meram sent a beautiful through ball to Ola Kamara who just didn’t bend his shot enough to hit the back of the net. 

In the 77’, Meram sent another pretty ball to Ola who sent it back to him, but Meram held the ball probably a step too long.  While he got the rebound off his own mishit, Meram couldn’t put it away.  He had another opportunity in the 80’ when Ola Kamara passed him the ball, but Meram sent it a tad wide of the goal.  Regardless, Crew SC ended the game with a win going into an 18-day break from MLS action.

Some thoughts about this game:

  • Without Pipa and Meram, we really do lack an offensive spark.  There was a different energy when Meram entered the match.
  • I thought rookie Abubakar did a nice job in his MLS debut.  I thought Abu who has been shaky in some of his previous appearances also played a solid game.
  • I was disappointed to see Naess subbed out early in the first half due to what appeared to be an injury.   He hasn’t seen much playing time lately, and I think he is one of our stronger CBs.  So, I was hoping this would be an opportunity for him to earn his way back to consistently starting.
  • This needs to be a formation that Gregg Berhalter uses more often.  We ground out a result, and I feel that if we were more comfortable with this formation it would be even more effective.  It’d be nice to have other options. 

The inconsistency of this Crew SC team always leaves you guessing.  Which as a Crew SC fan can be frustrating, but it also makes every game intriguing.  Who will show up?  We may never know, but I know we will be there cheering for our team.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

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Columbus Crew vs Impact

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, June 24: 4-1 Win

It was a pretty night both weather and win-wise in Crew-ville Saturday night as Columbus Crew SC defeated the Montreal Impact 4-1. 

My regular Crew SC partner in crime was traveling, so I brought a friend with me who used to have her own season ticket before moving away.  She hasn’t been to a game in several years.  So, it was fun listening to her take on the team.  During the first half, the two comments she made about the team that stuck out to me were:  “They seem like they play very lackadaisical,” and “Why do they keep playing backward?  They need to attack and go forward.” 

I don’t disagree with her observations.  I frequently think the team comes out too slow and doesn’t move the ball fast enough.  They either start the game without intensity or lose it as the game progresses, which I think has been an issue for them all year.  As for playing out of the back, I tried to explain that it is part of Berhalter’s style of play, but when I tried to describe the benefits of that style of play, I couldn’t.  Gregg has been tweaking his style of play this year and probably needs to continue to do so. 

With this astute assessment, it wasn’t surprising that the first half showed us slipping into the same pattern of play that have plagued us this season.  Pipa sent a beautiful free kick into the net in the 17’.  The team was joyful and confident.  That ended 2 minutes later when Montreal tied it up after a poor give away by Higuain and as Crew SC’s defense scrambled to unsuccessfully shut down Montreal. 

Then, the second half started, and Montreal dominated possession for the first five minutes of the half.  My only thought was, “Oh no, here we go again.”  I was sure we were going to give away a lead turned tie for a loss. 

However, Crew SC proved me wrong.  They held strong until reinforcements arrived in the form of Kekutah Manneh who was subbed into the match in the 69’ for Justin Meram and Adam Jahn who was subbed into the match in the 87’ for Ola Kamara.

Manneh scored his first Crew SC goal in the 70’ that Ola Kamara dead stopped for him right outside the 6’ box, and then Manneh assisted Kamara 2 minutes later.  Then in the 88’, Pipa scored another goal when Zack Steffen sent a long ball that Adam Jahn headed to Higuain. 

These were pretty goals.  This is the kind of attacking soccer that when Crew SC plays, they win.   Let’s hope they continue this kind of attack against Atlanta United this Saturday.

Random Thoughts:

  • I feel like a broken record….  Injury-free Higuain continues to dominate having scored in the last 4 games.  Those lamenting us keeping Higuain at the beginning of the season are probably glad we did now.  Let’s keep the scoring streak going Pipa!
  • As a very biased Finlay fan, I know he hasn’t scored or assisted since the start of the season, but his work rate kept the defense tired and resulted in multiple corner kicks.  He also drew the foul that provided Higuain with the free kick to score Crew SC’s first goal of the game.  His time will come.   
  • I was surprised to see Justin Meram subbed off in the 69’, but I think Montreal limited his match to some degree.  I’m sure they didn’t want another hat trick from Meram like the last time these two teams faced each other this season, and Montreal gave him slightly less room to maneuver.
  • Okay, I need to discuss Jonathan Mensah.  In the 33’, he sent a ball over to Zack Steffen when Zack had a Montreal Impact player nearby unmarked.  It was a big gaffe.  One that made everyone in my section ready to throw in the towel on Mensah.  However after watching the replay, it looked like he was trying to send the ball to Harrison Afful across the field and mishit the ball, which happens from time to time.  However, he seems to go backwards with the ball too often even when he has players forward to pass to.  At the beginning of the season, I figured it was due to adjusting to a new league, team, and system.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Now, I just don’t know.  I’m starting to wonder if the game is getting to him mentally and causing him to make even more mistakes.   I’m starting to become okay with the idea of leaving him on the bench despite his big paycheck.  I look forward to the time next season when Gaston Sauro is healthy, and he can pair with Naess in the back.

Featured image courtesy: Columbus Crew facebook

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The Tale of Two Teams

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Yes, it is the tale of two teams–one who gets outscored 5-0 against a team missing two of its starters, and then another team who wins 3-0 giving their opposition few opportunities.   “Who are these two teams?” one might ask.  And the answer will only surprise those who haven’t watched the team struggle for consistency over the past few seasons, Columbus Crew SC.

On Friday, Columbus Crew SC lost 5-0 to Toronto FC who was missing Giovinco and Altidore.  To be honest, I wasn’t watching.  I was playing a soccer game at the time, so I was following the game’s score on my phone.

As I watched a replay of the game, I didn’t find the first 30 minutes as bad as I thought they would be.  Maybe I was prepared for the worst knowing the final score line already.  Mensah’s foul in the 4’ that led to Vazquez’s putting away a PK was bad–it should have been a red card–and Toronto definitely had a lot of dangerous chances.  However, Crew SC had some chances that they should have finished, which would have resulted in a very different match.

Instead, Toronto’s Justin Morrow streaked down the left side of the field and lasered a ball into the net, and Gregg Berhalter subbed off one of our strongest players, Justin Meram, in the 40’.  Toronto followed this with a goal in the 59’ from Vazquez and two more goals when they were down a man after Marco Delgado was sent off in the 81’. 

Counter this match with the match on Wednesday night against Seattle Sounders where we saw a very different Crew SC team.  Justin Meram and Frederico Higuain continued their fantastic seasons starting in the 10’ when Hector Jimenez slid to get a ball, sent it to Higuain who settled and sent it to the bottom left corner of the net.  Later in the 21’, Justin Meram decided to increase the lead as several Seattle defenders backpedaled as he slotted the ball into the same corner as Higuain.  In the 59’, Meram sent a beautiful pass to Kamara who sent a low shot to the bottom right corner bouncing off the inside of the post careening into the back of the net. 

Zack Steffen made two fantastic saves to keep Crew SC solidly in the lead.  One was a diving save stopping a well-hit shot from Lodeiro in the 57’.  Later, he snagged a charging Fernandez’s shot with his left hand.

Random Thoughts:

  • Crew SC need to get Artur signed and off this loan.  He got sick at halftime during the Seattle game and continued to play.  He is a difference maker and is all over the field.  He needs to be in the black and gold next season too and a few more seasons after that if he continues to play as he has.
  • This team plays better with Ethan Finlay.  He may not be assisting or scoring goals, but he draws defenders and makes dangerous runs. 
  • There were many, many times during this game that I yelled look at Raitala or Finlay.  This team needs to switch the field quicker at times especially when their left back is standing there alone.  Also, Finlay makes these great runs, but they either don’t send him the ball when they should or make the pass too late.
  • Lots of people wanted Gregg fired after the Toronto loss.  I just don’t think that will fix the problems we have.  Gregg is a young coach.  This season, he’s starting to make tactical changes, and he is reflective on his decisions.  I continue to have faith, for now, in his direction for the team.
  • The Seattle game had tons more goals in it.  Kamara had a few more he could have put away. 
  • Having pups on the pitch night at Crew SC may have just brought the team luck.  Should it be a reoccurring event?  I guess it just might depend on our next home match’s result.

So, in the last week, we have seem two very different Crew SC teams.  Maybe, they had to hit the low in Toronto to figure out who they are.  Maybe they thought they were the only ones to defeat Toronto so far this season, so it would be easy to do it again.  But, I like the team that showed up against Seattle.  Let’s hope we see this team again on Saturday against Colorado Rapids.

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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