Tag Archives: Jonathan Mensah

Double Header Against Philadelphia

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, July 22: 1-0 win

Wednesday, July 26: 3-0 loss

Essentially, Columbus Crew SC just played the equivalent to a baseball double header playing the Philadelphia Union on Saturday and then again Wednesday.

In both games, Crew SC rolled out a 3-4-2-1 line-up utilizing 3 center backs in the backline—Jonathan Mensah, Alex Crognale, and Lalas Abubakar. The only change in the starting line-up between the two games was at right back—Harrison Afful played in the first game and Hector Jimenez in the second.

The first time this strategy yielded a 1-0 Crew SC victory. The defense held, but without Federico Higuain, the offense didn’t quite have the same movement that it could have had. Ola Kamara had a nice volley, but it was saved by Philadelphia’s keeper. The lone goal was scored on a deflection off a defender from a Justin Meram shot.

This formation does not allow for pretty soccer, but if our typical line up isn’t firing on all cylinders, then it isn’t attractive either. It also does not allow for a lot of possession. It was about 50/50 during the first game. It is a formation that allows us to grind out a result and that is what we did.

However, that all came to a halt in the second game of the double header. I’m not going to lie. I was really thankful that this was an away game, and I didn’t have to watch this one in person. Everything that Crew SC has struggled with was present in this game in a perfect storm that resulted in a 3-0 loss.

The defense fell apart. There were bad clearances, men unmarked at the top of the box, and men unmarked on the back post. Now, granted, Philadelphia’s first goal contained a pretty bicycle kick assist, but if there hadn’t been a bad clearance the assist wouldn’t have been possible.

Jonathan Mensah committed a red card foul in the 35’ that left the Crew SC a player down. Our DP has struggled all season to adjust to the MLS and Crew SC, and it is becoming evident that he may not be able to adjust at all.   Then, Lalas Abubakar received a red card in the 76’ leaving Crew SC with 9 players on the field.

Finally, we didn’t have that many opportunities, and we couldn’t finish the opportunities we did have. We only had 2 shots on target. Kamara had one he could have tapped in but hit the post.

If you ask any Crew SC fan what our issues are on the field, I’m sure these things would be mentioned. In this game, they were all blatantly present.

A lot of fans are frustrated, and I understand it.   I feel for the guys on the field. They want to win, they care. So, I’ll keep cheering them on from the stands and from my couch when they are playing away from home.

Hopefully, they come out firing on all cylinders against Real Salt Lake this Saturday.

Featured image courtesy: Bill Streicher/ USA Today

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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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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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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017