Tag Archives: Zack Steffen

Crew SC vs San Jose Earthquakes

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, August 5: 2-1 Loss

At some point, it just stops being fun—watching your team lose a game that they could have won.  As a Columbus Crew SC fan, it feels like it has happened a lot this year– points slipping through our fingers.   It happened again Saturday night against the San Jose Earthquakes as Crew SC lost 2-1. 

Some thoughts about the match:

  • Even though he was scored on twice, Zack Steffen played a great game.  In the 20’, he saved a Wondo header, and he denied Wondo again in the 46’.  In the 87’, Steffen had a one vs. one save.  I would imagine it’s hard to keep going if you are the Crew SC keeper when your defense hangs you out to dry, but Steffen plays with intensity and won my vote for man of the match.
  • During the first 12 minutes and periodically throughout the game, I thought to myself, “Wow, we are moving the ball incredibly well.”  There were a lot of first touch passes, and we controlled the field during those times.  This is the team we have to consistently be in order to be successful.
  • We had trouble finishing opportunities.  Ola Kamara had a few chances prior to the 14’ that should have been finished.  Raitala had an opportunity unmarked at the top of the box in the 20.’  In the 73’, Arthur had a pretty shot from distance.  In the 81’, Kamara sent a nice ball to Meram who took a shot that the keeper couldn’t keep his mitts on, but there was no one at the backdoor to finish it off. 
  • Mensah was a mixed bag. He got a well-deserved yellow in the 26’.  He was somewhat culpable for Wondo’s goal in the 57’, but he also headed the corner that led to Adam Jahn’s goal in the 75’. 
  • We did concede 10 corners in the first half, and after that, I stopped keeping track.  It was surprising that none of San Jose’s goals came from them as we kept gifting them corner kick opportunities.
  • The field was awful, awful, awful….  Crew SC players slid or fell at least 6 times during the game, usually in key moments that could have resulted in a cross for us or a defensive block against San Jose.

During away games, I try to keep up on twitter to see others’ responses.  It always ranges.  During and after this game, it was people ready to have Gregg fired, disappointed in our development of players, being frustrated at dropping points again, or unhappiness at the lack of movement so far during the transfer window.  It was people finding the positives in Steffen’s play, cheering on Jahn for his goal, or being excited to see Cristian Martinez get some minutes.   

I am not going to tell any Crew SC fan how to feel.  I know I went through most of those feelings at some point during the game too.  I did not want to sit down and write about another loss.  But I will reiterate one of my tweets from last night.  I appreciate fans looking for the positives in the games or being incredibly upset about the state of the team.  It means we care about the team, that we truly bleed black and gold.  

This team needs passionate fans more than anything, and I know on that we can deliver.  Hopefully, they can deliver a turnaround on the season.  They have done it before, and I’m not ready to count them out. 

Featured image courtesy: @ColumbusCrewSC

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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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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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