Tag Archives: Pedro Santos

Wrapping Up the Home Games With A Win

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

With a sold-out crowd for what should have been a pleasant fall game, the rain began to fall, causing a delay at halftime.  However, the weather didn’t dampen the play, nor did the fact that Caleb Porter started three central midfielders (Guzman, Trapp, and Artur) that tend to be more defensively minded. Despite the weather and roster shakeup, the Columbus Crew beat the Philadelphia Union 2-0 for the 200th home club win.  

While there weren’t a ton of opportunities in the first half with Philadelphia having more possession than the Crew, Luis Diaz made nice attempts at goals in the 15’ and 24’.

After a delayed second half, both teams came out a little more dangerous.  The Union almost started the half with goal in the 51’ by Kacper Przybylko who was stopped by Eloy Room.  

Then, Youness Mokhtar, who was subbed in on the 57’ for David Guzman, tried to get his first Crew goal by taking a shot in the 60’ after some solid passing from Artur and Diaz.

In the 64’, Philadelphia’s Jamiro Monteiro escaped his defender, making a run towards a cross by Ilsinho, and hitting it over the top of the net.

In the 68’, Gyasi Zardes recovered the ball the at the Crew’s own 18, sent a beautiful pass to Diaz who then laid it off to Pedro Santos.  Pedro sent a cheeky little pass out to Mohktar who almost dribbled too much to get off a shot. But he did get the ball off his foot, and in the 69’, Youness scored his first Crew goal.  

A lot of credit for this moment goes to Gyasi, who after making the pass to Diaz, sped down the field drawing two Philadelphia defenders towards him. This left his Crew teammates with more space to pass and move the ball.

Artur tried to continue the goals with a nice shot from distance in the 72’.  This shot resulted in a deflection from the Philadelphia keeper, Andre Blake, and a corner kick for the Crew. 

During the corner kick, Blake punched the ball out to an open Pedro Santos who took a one touch shot into the goal.

While this lead felt good, we have seen the Crew lose too many leads in the waning minutes of a game. However, with a few great saves, the Crew was able to hold on to their 2-0 lead and give Eloy Room his first shut-out as a Crew keeper.

Thoughts About the Game:

It was nice to see the Crew play a solid game from start to finish against a team near the top of the Eastern Conference table.  While Philadelphia had its opportunities, the Crew limited them and held on to their lead. If this Crew team had showed up during the long middle of the season losing streak, we might be in the playoffs right now. 

I am excited about the future of this team in so many ways. There is a new stadium coming in 2021; the front office is committed to this team, the supporters, and the city; and Caleb Porter has brought on some great players this year.  The end of the season is always sad for me though, as it is inevitable that we have witnessed several players who have worn their Crew jerseys for the final time. 

I know for teams to evolve the players on the field need to change too.  But I hope this isn’t the last season I see Pipa, Trapp, Josh Williams, and several others in the black and gold.  The reason I hate the end of the season is because I never feel we get to say a proper good-bye and thank you to those guys—because I believe a lot of these guys after dealing with what they had to the past few seasons—do in fact–bleed black and gold.

So, I will enjoy watching the Crew take on Toronto FC in the final game of the season and hold on to the memories of 2019.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Want You To Be Happier

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

“I want you to be happier.” These are the lyrics that played through the loud speakers as I left Mapfre Stadium after the Columbus Crew faced the Chicago Fire on Saturday. It was like the team was telling us they knew that they wanted fans to be happier. That they knew they weren’t executing the game as they should and could. And they weren’t.

On the Crew’s first official Alumni Night, complete with jerseys that listed all the players that had worn that number before, the Crew couldn’t pull out the win and ended up with a 1-1 result.

The Crew had several opportunities for goals in the first half from Santos, Argudo, Maloney, Afful, Diaz, and Zardes, and limited Chicago to only one dangerous attempt by Przemyslaw Frankowski. In the 27′, the Crew’s attempts paid off when Pedro Santos carried the ball down the sideline, into the center of the field, and took a shot from outside the 18 that hit the back of the net to give the Crew the lead.

Then at halftime, which was the highlight of the evening for me, all of the alumni who had returned to Mapfre were introduced. As they were introduced, the alumni were given a scarf from one of the original Crew season ticket holders that are still season ticket holders today. These alumni included Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham, Dante Washington, Gino Padula, Alejandro Moreno, and Frankie Hejduk just to name a few.

In the second half, the game seemed unremarkable for the Crew but the Fire seemed to bring some danger. Eloy Room made a great save in the 82′ to keep the Crew in the lead. However, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, the Crew gave away the lead when Aleksandar Gaitan passed a ball through the Columbus box to Frankowski who was streaming in unmarked on the backside of the net. He buried it to tie the game. After Chicago found the equalizer, the Crew made many attempts to get another goal but didn’t.

Thoughts about the Match

This team can’t play on their heels. They have given away so many goals in the same fashion as they did in this game because they are passing the ball around or giving it away in their third of the field. They need to continue to attack. They have not had a game where they have been dangerous the entire time, and every time they have a half where they are not attacking, they give up silly goals.

Eloy Room deserves a shut out. He’s been a phenomenal replacement for Zach Steffen, but the team has not rallied to help give him a clean sheet yet.

Connor Maloney is essentially a fourth string left back and didn’t even play defense in college. Despite his first shaky start against Cincinnati a few weeks back, Maloney has played admirably. Hopping above people twice his size to get headers, running at full speed to make recovery runs, and letting off a wicked shot this week, it’s nice to see a player making strides when given an opportunity.

I continue to appreciate the new ownership. Seeing them embrace the alumni–the foundation of the club–and celebrate our heritage makes me excited to see what they continue to do in the future. Now, if they could just get Eddie Gaven back for an alumni night…

Let’s hope that after a week off, the Crew can make me happier when they face Atlanta United on September 14th.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Another Tie…Another Point

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

On a beautiful night in Ohio, the Columbus Crew faced Toronto FC. With playoffs looking very unlikely, but not impossible, it was crucial for Columbus to get 3 points out of this match.

Youness Mokhtar made his starting debut for the Crew after subbing in during the last match, and Josh Williams returned to the line up after recovering from an injury. Connor Maloney once again played left back, but he had a much better outing than when playing Cincinnati last week.

While the Crew did not dominate the first half, they did not look quite as lost as they did last week. While Toronto dominated possession, they did not get a lot of opportunities until they very end of the half.

In the 42′, Toronto picked up the lead when Jozy Altidore sent a pass to Jonathan Osorio. Osorio leisurely dribbled it up the middle of the field unchallenged and sent a shot in from outside the 18 into the net.

Quickly in the second half, the Crew equalized. Wil Trapp sent a floating cross to Pedro Santos. Santos quickly one touched it off his left foot and into the net.

In the 65′, 79′, and 80′, coach Caleb Porter made an offensive push, subbing Mokhtar for Luis Arugdo, Romario Williams for Luis Diaz, and David Accam for Connor Maloney. One of these subs made an immediate impact. In the 82′, Harrison Afful got the ball to Accam who carried it halfway down the field to finish it off, putting the Crew in the lead.

Now, all the team needed to do was possess and keep the ball away from their end of the field to get the three points. Unfortunately, this was not to pass, with Toronto’s Altidore heading in a ball in the 90′, tying the score 2-2.

There were several times in the second half where the Crew could have scored more goals. Argudo had a great shot that was deflected and hit the cross bar, Zardes headed a ball into the ground that should have hit the back of the net, and he had another opportunity he missed as well.

Thoughts on the Match

I continue to think the Crew is improving, but it is most likely too little too late for any hope of making the post-season. While we did get a point out of this match, giving away a goal in the end stages of a game we are winning cannot happen if we want to hold on to any shred of hope of a post-season appearance.

I didn’t have any strong feelings when we picked up David Accam. Then I found out we only had him for this season, so I didn’t really want to invest too much. Unfortunately, I’ve become a fan and hate to see him go.

I am also a fan of Gyasi Zardes, but he may need to go visit Berhalter or Josh Wolff to figure out why he hasn’t seemed to be able to finish any shots recently. The current coaching staff hasn’t seemed to figure it out since Zardes has returned from international duty.

I was very relieved to see Artur and Trapp start in the midfield for this game, and there was no David Guzman appearance. I’m sure with three games in nine days we are likely to see him, but Guzman remains my least favorite acquisition of the season.

With post-season looking unlikely, I am beginning to wonder about which players will be returning next season. I hope we will see a return of Pedro Santos who finally has found his form under Porter.

Hopefully, we can take 3 points from our Wednesday game against NYCFC to keep any hopes of the playoffs alive.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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Columbus Crew defeat Atlanta United 2-0: Did We Actually Play Soccer?

Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

The answer is yes, kind of. It was part soccer match—part playing on a Slip and Slide. The Columbus Crew took on the defending MLS Cup Champs Atlanta United this past Saturday, March 30th. The game took place during a rainstorm that even the pristine pitch at Mapfre Stadium couldn’t drain fast enough.

The Crew came out and scored in the 2’ of play. When Artur received a ball from Wil Trapp, he carried down the sideline and crossed it about 9 yards from the end line.

Gyasi Zardes tried to slide into the ball along with an Atlanta defender to put it into the goal. He missed it, but made it to the backside of the goal where Pedro Santos was making an unmarked run and to put the ball into the back of the net.

In the 24’, Atlanta almost evened up the score. Julian Gressel headed a beautiful ball from Ambrose that Zack Steffen was able to stop. It bounced off Zack and Josef Martinez tried to finish the bouncing ball that was quickly cleared by Jonathan Mensah.

Then, the game went into a weather delay due to lightning in the area. After the almost hour weather delay, the game resumed with the rain still pouring down.

In the 34’, Zack Steffen proved why he deserved Man of the Match honors. Atlanta was dangerous again with a ball that squirted through from Franco Escobar to the approaching Ezequiel Barco. Zack made an incredible diving save keeping the Crew’s lead safe.

In the 39’, the Crew picked up their second goal with great runs by Robinho and Zardes. Zardes was making a break for the 6-yard box, stopped, and stepped back a few steps losing his defenders. Robinho, who had received a great ball from Federico Higuain, had run down the sideline and sent a perfect cross to Gyasi who buried it.

In the 57’, Zardes earned a PK that Federico Higuain took. Brad Guzan made a good save on the PK.

At this point, the game was really being played in a swamp. Atlanta had some chances as did the Crew, but the game held at 2-0.

Thoughts About the Game:

In this game, I joked on Twitter that the field had the best first touch of any player out there because wherever the ball landed it would just stop.

I truly believe that Mapfre Stadium has one of the best pitches in the MLS. (It is not artificial turf, and the Columbus Grounds Crew is the best! I’m sure I’m biased, but I don’t care.)

However, there is no way that any pitch could hold up against the amount of rain that poured down during the course of this game. The puddles and amount of water on the pitch just stopped the ball dead.

There wasn’t any way to dribble the ball. In fact, many players who tried ended up tripping over the ball when it dead stopped in the water.

In many ways, it was a hilarious game to watch because, at many points in the game, it looked as if the players were on a Slip and Slide. However, I was very concerned that players on either team would get hurt. Definitely a game for the books.

Also, Robinho was dangerous and has definitely set the bar high in order for Justin Meram to win back his starting spot. Robinho had several great crosses and shots during the game. I’m excited to see what he can do.

Federico Higuain is a great player. However, he cannot make consistent PKs on the south goal Mapfre Stadium. While I know he would like to get that monkey off his back, he just needs to stop taking PKs on that end of the stadium.

I will say it again, and I will say it every game until he is gone. But, we don’t win this game without Zack Steffen. I wish we had brokered a deal where we could have him back on loan. He is such a great keeper, and I feel privileged to have seen him play.

I joked with MLS Female writer @robynsaghini that we should have negotiated in Zack’s contract that we get him back for playoffs if we play against Atlanta.

This week, the Crew remain at home at a (hopefully) much drier Mapfre Stadium to take on the New England Revolution on April 6th.

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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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

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @hils4crew

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