Win Some; Tie Some
The Crew had a chance to lock down a spot in the knockout rounds and get a little break in October last night’s against Saprissa. That leaves the result a real heartbreaker. Giving up a header goal in stoppage time is a pretty tough way to drop points. Especially when the free kick was set up on a soft foul and the goal was scored after Saprissa’s Robinson pushed Carroll with two hands to get free. Of all the fouls called, and 45 were, that one wasn’t.
Blaming this result on the referee and a fluke goal is misplaced though. The Crew controlled play and had several chances to go up 2-0 in the second half. Ekpo tore through the Saprissa defense only to sputter out for the lack of a left shooting foot. Hejduk was off the entire game. Moffat couldn’t connect on his passing. Moreno looked to go to ground at the first opportunity, including a nice dive after an even nicer “sombrero” chip to get into the box. This was a game the Crew had, if they could only finish their chances.
The offense should shoulder some of the blame. One complaint keeps coming up, the Crew keep looking for the killer pass rather than take a shot. I think that is by (unintentional) design. This is a team without a true goal scorer. They have relied on the scoring contributions from all over the field. Without a true goal scoring forward, they have to look to the midfield to chip in a goal from the run of play. It’s also important not to overlook how set piece centered this team is on offense. Schelotto and Marshall is a lethal combination that has bailed the team out on occasion. Without Marshall, there isn’t that added threat.
This is a well balanced team, but like any team it will sputter when parts of that balance start to slip. Without Marshall on set pieces, the Crew lack a weapon. Rogers and Ekpo are exhilarating and infuriating; sometimes on the same play. Even the maestro, Schelotto, isn’t quite up to speed. All of these are a factor on a team that can’t ride a premier goal scorer as the playoffs approach. I still have more faith that the Crew will find a way to eke out team results than if a player like Donovan or Casey were carrying the team.