Game 20: FC Dallas 1 – Crew 2
The Crew did almost everything they could to hand Dallas the game in the first half. Cunningham and Cooper tormented the Crew back line and the offense struggled to maintain possession and get behind the Dallas defense and create opportunities. As rough as the first half was for Columbus, the second half was equally sublime. The team started find space, exploit the seams, and counterattack to ultimately get the goals to get the win and the three points.
I had hoped the team would come out strong to withstand the early pressure that Dallas would bring. The Crew, however, came out flat. Dallas, led by new addition Jeff Cunningham made numerous forays through the Crew defense. Cunningham looked like the player he was five years ago and Kenny Cooper showed some of the skill that has several European teams interested in him. Cunningham had several chances to get goal 100 before finally redirecting a Serioux cross to give the Hoops a deserved 1-0 lead. The Crew could not keep possession as the short passing game sputtered and the tall center backs neutralized any direct options. The Crew went into halftime looking the far inferior team.
If the Crew were going to salvage anything from the game, they would need to find different ways to break down Dallas and create some chances. The team did just that midway through the second half by using the counterattack and set pieces to break through and get the goals and steal the game. The Crew struck quickly after some Dallas pressure. Hesmer played a quick ball to Moreno, who lofted a cross that Schelotto redirected towards the center of the Dallas box. Carroll ran into the space and chopped a shot past Sala into the goal to tie the game. The Crew were not done as they quickly followed up the equalizer with another goal. Gaven took a quick throw and drew a foul along the endline. Schelotto connected with Evans on the free kick to put the Crew up.
Dallas did well to stifle the Crew attack, we could not really get behind the defense, so the team took what was available, counters and set pieces. Schelotto was in the middle of the offense, getting two assists, but it really was a team effort as Evans and Carroll were dangerous coming out of central midfield. Moreno created opportunities when he pushed out wide. Rogers added a speedy threat that helped to open the game. I have always said there are holes to this team, and they remain, but this team does have some strengths that keep coming through. They adapt quickly and rarely are out of any game. These skills will be very important when the playoffs come and the stakes are higher. I just hope this was a playoff preview.