Game 14 – Rapids 1 – Crew 2
I am not right often, but I did get the score line right from my preview and Ekpo and Rogers terrorized the Rapids wings all night, sparking both the Crew offense and stifling the opposing wings. It was also positive to see the defense play a solid game, Hesmer return to form, and the Schelotto and Moreno pairing open up the Rapids defense. The Crew need to keep getting points against struggling teams because the rest of the East is strong and it will take a continued strong effort to ensure a spot in the playoffs.
The game played out like other Crew games as of late. The Crew started slowly and allowed the Rapids a couple of opportunities. This could be due to almost everybody expected Colorado to come out with a 3-5-2 formation. Once the Crew settled, the offense started getting in gear. Rogers and Ekpo made several attacks deep into the Rapids defense, involving Moreno and Evans. Unfortunately, the Crew had a hard time finishing as several chances failed to find the back of the net. This allowed the Rapids to stay in the game despite the Crew having several opportunities to take the lead. It makes a Crew fan long for a decisive striker.
Fortunately, the team came out stronger in the second half behind the improved performance of Emmanuel Ekpo. The Crew worked the ball around much like the first half, but the Crew put the ball into dangerous position and caught a bit of a break. Ekpo dropped a weighted ball towards the touchline and an slowly onrushing Moreno. Moreno turned and avoided the first Colorado defender, but was clipped by the second to earn the penalty. Schelotto converted the spot kick to put the Crew up 1-0. The Rapids pushed for an equalizer since the Crew went up by one and found one less than 10 minutes later as Colorado would take advantage of weak midfield defense and a timely strike to tie the game at one.
Despite a good performance overall, the Crew were tied with 20 minutes to go. Ekpo then cemented his spot in the lineup with an outstanding singular offensive display. His 60 yard run started with a chip over two defenders, driving past a half dozen defenders, and then smashing a shot past Bouna Condoul. It was one of the most exciting goals that a Crew player has had in years. While the Rapids would push for a tying goal, Hesmer and the defense would secure the win.
The Crew are not a complete team. There are holes in midfield, the defense can be shaky, and you never know where the goals will come from. However, this is a team that just seems to know how to win games. This team has given up leads and then gotten them back, has been down on the road but came back for the ties. The more the season progresses, the more that this determined Crew team has made me believe. I still remember the last three years, but it is great to see a team that is shaking off history and driving towards the playoffs and MLS Cup.