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One Down, Crew Tie on the Island

October 21, 2009

Columbus finally nailed down passage to the quarterfinals of the Champions League with their 1-1 tie last night in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. After having a chance to seal the deal last month, the Crew waited until the last 15 minutes to get the tying goal that would assure they would play on next Spring.

My delay can be blamed at FSC’s decision to show Toluca v. DC rather than the Crew game. With the internet feed a dud last night, I only got to see it tonight. I almost wish I hadn’t. That was a game absolutely devoid of any flow. The Crew looked the better team throughout the game, but struggled to build any sustained offensive pressure.

The defense was solid all night. Brunner was his solid self, Iro still looks a shade slow. The biggest issue was in goal. Hesmer looked shaky as he badly flubbed on the speculative cross that turned into a fluke goal. He is still mostly solid, but his performance on high balls lately it cause for concern.

The offense is still the much bigger concern. The Crew did not look threatening for most of the night. There were a couple of dangerous corners and Lenhart added instant energy when he came on in the second half. The starting forward pair of Moreno and Schelotto were unable to threaten the Islander goal. Gaven and Ekpo were kept in check for most of the game. It was only when Warzycha went to the 3-5-2 and then dropped Schelotto back into a playmaker role did Columbus have their best chances.

Renteria’s goal was a thing of beauty. It’s hard to hit a volley just right and keep the ball down. He placed it perfectly. The Crew probably should have had a 2-1 lead. I struggled to find the foul on Renteria when  Lenhard scored. It’s good to see the sustained pressure pay off, unlike last week in DC.

A confidence building win would have been nice going into the final week. The team has four days to recover and secure the Supporters Shield. Everyone is getting healthy and should be as rested as they can be going into the 37th game this season. Marshall is training again. Warzycha’s rotation has given valuable minutes to battle tested reserves. With one down, there is only one to go until the playoffs and the road to MLS Cup.

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