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Game 15 – Fire 2 – Crew 2

July 6, 2008

Never count out the comeback Crew. After staking the Fire to a two goal lead, the Crew clawed back to to earn a draw on a late Lenhart goal in the 87th minute. It was an highly entertaining game with both teams attacking and creating several very good goal scoring chances.

The Crew defense started poorly and gifted Chicago two goals in the first 25 minutes. The first goal was a team effort. Chicago was able to pass the ball around with ease and the defense was chasing. Blanco lifted a ball over Marshall into the path of Justin Mapp who’s shot hit the post.  Iro was caught ball watching as Rolfe slotted home the rebound. The second goal was similar as Ekpo and Hejduk got caught upfield. Segares was left free to find Calen Carr in mid stride who put the Crew down two.

While the defense looked bad, the offense had struggled to find its rhythm. The team initially looked toward the right side and Emmanuel Ekpo early. Unfortunately, Ekpo and the rest of the offense found the Chicago defense too much to break down. Schelotto and Moreno got a little more involved and the Crew started getting a few chances. The Crew thought they had scored a goal when O’Rourke whipped a cross in towards goal that Busch grabbed. Moreno came in and punched the ball into the net. Unfortunately, the goal was called back on a foul. I have not seen a conclusive replay, but these decisions are going to favor the keeper. Disappointing, but not surprising.

The Crew did find a breakthrough from the hard work of Moreno and the intelligence of Schelotto. Moreno held up the ball to get the Crew in position. Bakary Soumare dispossessed him, but was soon stripped by Schelotto. Schelotto’s cross found Ekpo who cut the lead to one. The Crew had a couple more chances to even the score as Schelotto dropped in a shot the Busch had to parry over the bar. Robbie Rogers headed a ball that came off the cross bar. There was hope towards the end of the half as the Crew offense had sprung to life and found some chances against the tough Chicago defense.

The second half would be even more exciting than the first as the Crew pushed for an equalizer and Chicago had several opportunities to counterattack. The Crew looked very good moving forward around the wings as the central midfield continued it’s subpar performance. Rogers and Schelotto created a couple of chances along the left side. Moreno found some success against the stout Chicago central defenders. It would actually be Hejduk and O’Rourke that would provide offensive punch with a couple of runs forward. Hejduk almost even scored a miraculous goal on a mishit cross, but none of these attempts would turn into a goal. Chicago, for all of it’s counterattacking possession really did not get any great shots at goal.

It was left to Schelotto to loft a wishful cross towards two second half subs. He narrowly missed the diving Stefani Miglioranzi, but found Steven Lenhart on the far post. Lenhart practically tripped over the ball as he shoved it home. The rookie scored his 2nd 87th minute game tying goal in three weeks. Crew stadium erupted and the Crew even attempted to push for a winner in the dying minutes. The Crew ran out of time and the game ended two all.

Both teams proved something last night. Chicago has a great defense, but when they score they are truly a dangerous team. The Crew again displayed their defensive liabilities and the central midfield has some serious issues, but they also showed a championship mentality. Two defensive lapses put the Crew down two, but rather than getting unsettled; they redoubled their efforts to get back in the game. They only looked rattled for a few brief moments, there were only a few rushed passes and everybody made the plays they need to. This team may have another losing streak in them, but it won’t last long and it won’t keep them from the playoffs. It’s also the same kind of attitude that will allow them to get far in the playoffs when they get there.

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