Game 2 – NYRB 2 – Crew 0
The Crew were brought back down a little very early yesterday with the Red Bulls scored two goals in the first ten minutes to secure the win. This looked very reminiscent of past Crew teams. They were listless on offense for long stretches, the midfield could not transition that well, and the defense is showing some cracks.
The first goal by the Red Bulls was indicative of what the Crew needed to avoid. Dave van den Bergh picked up the ball after Schelotto was dispossessed in midfield. He preceded to charge into space where Moffat had been (he was in the midfield mixup with Schelotto). Marshall chose to stay with Angel and Hejduk was left on the wing. van den Bergh then fired a bouncing shot to the right of Hesmer that found the back of the net. Hesmer got two hands to the ball, but was unable to stop the shot. The Crew found themselves down 1-0 within the first minute thanks to a slow start, a defensive miscue and an inability to adjust to the turf.
The second Red Bull goal was again setup by the slow start by the Crew and a defensive miscue. The Red Bulls corner was setup by a lax throw in that put the Crew under defensive pressure again forcing the corner that the Red Bulls scored on. van den Bergh lofted a corner into the 6 yard box that Angel pushed back across the goal that Kevin Goldthwaite pounced on. Hesmer showed indecision by not jumping on the loose ball, but the key to the broken play was a push by Luke Sassano into the back of Chad Marshall that caused Marshall to fall. Goldthwaite pounced on the space created. There have been worse no calls on corner kicks, but it was still hard to watch that goal thinking that on another day with would still be 1-0 instead of a near insurmountable 2-0 deficit.
It was only by the 20th minute that the Crew started settling down. The offense started to link together some possession, the wings performed better as Rogers and Gaven made runs into the offensive third and Schelotto made a few passes that built up a little pressure. Again, the Crew did not adjust to the turf very well as the final passes skidded away on the slick turf field. The central midfield was under constant pressure and was unable to build from the back or sustain any offensive pressure. This needs to happen for the Crew to be successful against more talented teams this year.
Thee second half was more of the same, New York bunkered throughout allowing the Crew to maintain more possession. Coach Schmid’s second half subs did little to change the nature of the game. Evans and Hernandez came in for Moffat and Schelotto in the 61st minute. This was puzzling as Moffat was one of the few players that was consistently attacking and Schelotto was causing the most trouble on offense. Hernandez did inject some energy into the game, but Evans was invisible. Ezra came in for Miglioranzi in the 67th minute and eventually pushed up to a target forward role. The Crew tried to shift to a 3-5-2, but did not look dangerous for the rest of the game.
These are the performances that need to be avoided as much as possible. This team needs an active central midfield to hold possession and sustain attacking pressure. Rogers and Gaven must be able to attack individually and break down defenses while linking with the forwards and Schelotto has to work better with the central midfield as he again drifted out wide. I was thinking that Guillerme So is a player that the Crew could have used last night. He has good dribbling ability and can go at people; causing a disruption in the defense. This team needs that to be able to break down packed in defenses and to create some variety, because the current Crew attack resorts to the long ball far too often and Moreno is not a fit for that type of offense.
The defense may need a personnel change to be effective. New signing Gino Padula will assist with that linking play on the left, but O’Rourke is still too raw to be effective every week against strikers such as Angel, Altidore, Emilio, Lopez, and Dichio (kidding about that last one). Iro looked a little to raw last week so we may see the return of Hendrickson to the starting lineup. This is only the 2nd game and teams have been struggling on the road so far this year. There are pieces to build on, but I will need to see a lot more before I believe in this team.