Game 3 – Crew 4 – Chivas USA 3
Wow. The team scores four goals for the first time since October 2006. They scored more goals in this game than they did all of last April. They got their second win of the season a full two months earlier than last season.
Everybody was playing on the same page offensively. This was evidenced by the sequence that led to the first goal. Schelotto picked up a loose ball in traffic and then quickly played to Rogers further down the wing and into space; Rogers crossed to Moreno, who was dragged down. It was a team earned penalty kick. Schelotto buried the penalty kick to put the Crew up one to nothing.
Chivas was able to tie on a moment of individual brilliance by Sacha Kljestan 7 minutes later. The wing defense was solid all night, but allowed a ball to be centered to Keith Savage. A bad first touch acted a layoff that Kljestian drilled into the top corner. The bend on the ball was magnificent and Hesmer had no chance. Go to the highlights now and see this one.
After giving up a equalizing goal two minutes earlier the Crew could have folded, but their second goal highlighted the new found offensive prowess. Brian Carroll received a loose ball from the defense and played a quick pass to Moreno. Moreno redirected to an onrushing Schelotto, who drew two Chivas defenders. Moreno made a run to the other side of the goal. Schelotto sent the ball back across to him. Moreno calmly slotted the ball home to restore a one goal lead. It was a team goal that highlighted what Coach Schmid had been looking for. The linkup play was excellent and was a joy to watch.
The second half started quick for the Crew. The excellent linking play was again evident again as Schelotto played Rogers into who crossed the ball to Gaven who in turn centered to Schelotto who ran to the top of the box. Schelotto’s header was saved by Guzan. Just minutes later, Moreno played Carroll down the left side who centered to Rogers. His point blank shot was right at Guzan. The pressure continued to mount as Moffat played a long shot, Rogers had a long header go over the bar, and Gaven drove into the box. The defensive pressure did not allow Chivas to build anything and Rogers, Schelotto, Gaven, and Moreno kept the offensive tempo. The first 15 minutes of the second half may not have resulted in a goal, but it was extremely entertaining.
The Crew attackers were rewared with what I thought would be the insurance goal. The tireless Moreno took a loping ball from O’Rourke and passed it to Schelotto. Schelotto played one of the best passes I have seen to an speeding Rogers. The pass just missed two Chivas players and found Rogers in space. Rogers cooly shot the ball near post against a helpless Guzan. The vision and execution by Schelotto was outstanding. I have no superlatives great enough for the pass. It was a joy to watch. Rogers did what he needed to do and finished with class. After drilling a shot right at Guzan earlier, he played a deft near corner shot to extend the lead to 3-1. Simply beautiful.
The great feelings were soon extinguished as not two minutes later Chivas drew to within a goal again. Paulo Nagamura played a ball that split O’Rourke and Marshall to Jesse Marsch. Marsch slotted the ball past Hesmer to make it 3-2. The Carroll was playing very high and Moffat was also was more central. Nagamura has space and O’Rourke marked Galindo. The pass played right down the middle to an unmarked Marsch. Marshall did not rotate over fast enough and Marsch was free to shoot low past Hesmer. Chivas continued to pressure and had the run of play for the next 10 minutes. The tying goal came 6 minutes later as Kljestan centered to Nagamura. Marshall and Moffat did not close down fast enough and Nagamura’s shot went past the diving Hesmer.
I would have expected the Crew of old to collapse and settle for the tie or even give up the late goal, but this team reacted by driving for the win. They started winning the midfield battles again and closing down Chivas on defense. O’Rourke found the hottest player in the second half, Rogers, with a 50 yard bomb. Rogers than uncorked a long shot that Guzan misplayed badly to score the fourth Crew goal. Guzan looked at his hands; he could not comprehend how he let that shot pass. It was an amazing moment.
The last ten minutes was a little easier than it would have as Chivas spectacularly collapsed. Francisco Mendoza fouled Gaven and received a second yellow and was ejected. Kljestan came in late and hard on Schelotto less than a minute later to draw a straight red card to put Chivas down to 9 men. The Crew killed off the game and secured their second consecutive home win.
This was as close to a complete performance as I have seen. Aside for a a soft 10 minutes, the Crew dominated possession and have numerous offensive chances. Schelotto and Rogers had standout performances. The defense could have played a bit better, but it was exciting to see the team maintain possession and press the attack for most of the game. I left the game feeling better than I have in a long while.