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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