Game 4 – Crew 2 – D.C. United 1
The Crew came into D.C. and won for only the fifth time ever. It was one of the most satisfying and confident wins I have seen from the team in a long time. The Crew went on the road on short week and got the three points and headed to the top of the East standing.
Both teams made early attacks off of the counter. Rogers drive into the 18 yard box resulted in a shot wide. D.C. then made a couple attacks in the first 25 minutes that resulted in a couple a good attempts on goal. Luciano Emilio got free in the box and struck a header right at Hesmer. Then Marchello Gallardo launched a pinpoint cross that Jaime Moreno was unable to trap well enough and Hesmer again cleaned up.
The Crew also started to build some offensive pressure. Schelotto, under pressure, made an excellent back heal and turn to drive towards goal to free him from the D.C. defender. He then dropped a pass that Alejandro Moreno refused to give up on. He was able to reach it just before it went over the end line. His centering pass was right to a surging Schelotto. Schelotto then tried to slip it high past D.C. ‘keeper Zach Wells. Wells was able to get a hand on it and keep the score at 0-0.
D.C. was not as lucky just four minutes later as Columbus was on the attack again. After a deep throw in, the loose ball fell to Brian Carroll who passed to Schelotto. Schelotto then dropped a perfect ball to a streaking Hejduk. Hejduk then placed a cross right into the path of Alejandro Moreno ho redirected it to give the Crew a one goal lead. The buildup was excellent and Schelotto’s pass opened up the defense. D.C. was unable to scramble into position and found themselves down 1-0.
The United started building some pressure and timely counterattacks in an attempt to equalize. Emilio had a chance, but turned with glacial speed allowing Hejduk to come over and block the shot. Emilio then had a long ball played to his feet by Gallardo, but was slow again and Marshall cleared the danger. After a Rogers drive and a questionable no call a United counter was rewarded with a goal. Gallardo fired a pass to Emilio that was redirected to an open Bryan Namoff. Namoff’s shot deflected off of an unlucky Adam Moffat and past Hesmer. D.C. had tied the game just before halftime.
The Crew, however, were not done in the first half. Less than a minute later, the Crew built another attack. Hejduk played a very good lofted ball into the path of Adam Moffat. Moffat then turned and drove the ball to the touchline drawing Wells out of the 6 yard box. Moreno, again, positioned himself in the goal mouth and outworked two United defenders, forcing a D.C. own goal. The Crew would take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
The second half was a sight that a Crew fan really has not seen for a while. The Crew stayed compact defensively, countered judiciously, and killed off the game. It was strange to see an opposing offense look out of ideas and start pressing. The entire team looked comfortable with the lead. Moreno was key to this effort. He was tireless as the solo attacking option throughout the second half and got to far more of the long outlet balls than he had any right to. He also drew numerous fouls allowing Columbus to periodically break the United offensive pressure. It was a very good team defensive effort and it was so exciting to see a killer instinct that the team has lacked for the last several years.
This was a most satisfying win. The Crew (momentarily) lead the East and the league in goals. Alejandro Moreno leads the league in goals. The defense stepped up the effort in the second half and made a potent offense look clueless. I have been accused at times of being pessimistic, but I could see what Sigi Schmid was trying to do. I am glad to see it working as this is a very entertaining team to watch. I look at the bench and see players like Emmanuel Ekpo, Nico Hernandez, Stefani Miglioranzi, Guillerme So and Andy Iro. These are players with talent who are going to have a tough time seeing the field. I feel better about this team than I did about the 2004 team. It is a good time to be a Crew fan and I am eagerly looking toward next weeks game against Houston.