The View from Our Crew

Crew Falls to Vancouver 1-0 Saturday at Crew Stadium

COLUMBUS, OH - April 28, 2011 - The Vancouver Whitecaps got a late set-piece goal from defender Young-Pyo Lee to defeat the Columbus Crew 1-0 in a tight match largely controlled by the Crew Saturday night at Crew Stadium. Vancouver (4-2-2, 14 points), which registered its sixth shutout in eight matches this season, has now won two straight.

Lee lined up 24 yards out from goal on the right side and swerved a free kick toward the far post. Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum tried to deflect the shot with his left hand as he backpedaled, but the ball settled into the upper left corner.

The match was full of energy and action from the opening whistle and the Crew (2-4-1, 7 points) thought it had broken through only three minutes in when defender Josh Williams blasted home a corner kick by Milovan Mirosevic. But teammate Chad Marshall was whistled for grabbing defender Jay DeMerit and the goal was disallowed.

A short time later Eddie Gaven put the ball into the back of the net, but he was ruled offside off a pass from Aaron Schoenfeld. Gaven’s 11th minute header from a Schoenfeld cross was flicked over the goal and five minutes later it was Williams’ turn for a second crack at the goal, but his bicycle kick crashed off the crossbar.

Gaven added a skipping 35-yard shot that forced ‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon into a diving save in the 38th minute and Schoenfeld’s shot from the top of the penalty area was also denied by the ‘keeper in full stretch just before the break.

The Crew kept the pressure on in the second half and finished the game with advantages of 63-37 percent in possession, 14-9 in shots and 9-2 in corner kicks.

Crew and Dynamo Battle to a Draw

Photo Credit: Graham Ward/ISNSoccer.comCOLUMBUS, OH - April 21, 2012 - Two goals from the Crew's Eddie Gaven were just enough to secure a 2-2 draw with the visiting Houston Dynamo (2-1-2) Saturday night.

Akron native Josh Williams and Nemanja Vukovic made their first career MLS starts in a revamped Crew lineup that also included a healthy Danny O'Rourke and Tony Tchani.

"A dream became a reality tonight," Williams stated. "The first start is definitely huge. I proved that I belong in this league and that I can play at this level. Hopefully they keep adding up and Coach keeps calling my name."

The game started with quite a spark for the home team, landing a corner in the first minute as the Crew (2-3-1) moved forward quickly in the attack. The high energy continued for 10+ minutes with the Dynamo struggling to keep up. The visitors finally got their footing and began to mount some pressure of their own.

However, the half would come to end with 0-0 on the scoreboard. The Crew had a promising first half, claiming their share of opportunities. Columbus had a slight advantage in possession (53% to 47%) and passing accuracy (73% to 62%).

The second half started with a flourish of goals. Young Dynamo striker Will Bruin, with the assist from former Crew mid Adam Moffat, connected off a corner to put Houston up 1-0 in the 59th minute. This didn't deflate the Crew as they responded with a goal of their own four minutes later in what could be described as a defensive mixup by the visitors. The goal was originally registered as an own goal, but was eventually corrected as a goal for Gaven, his first of 2012.

Gaven would get his second of the season in the 74th, launching a wonder strike past Dynamo Tally Hall. Vukovic and Aaron Schoenfeld would claim the assist even though Gaven deserves all the credit for an absoluely blistering shot from distance. The 2-1 Crew lead was a tense one as the Dynamo became more tenacious and deliberate in the attack.

Disaster struck with a Brian Ching equalizer in the 81st. Bruin set up the play and got the assist after slotting a ball to Ching, who slid it past Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum. Bruin finished with a goal and an assist on the night as he continually tested the Crew backline with the veteran Ching.

The game rolled to an end with no change in score. There was an overwhelming feeling that the match would end in a draw and that was indeed the result. The Crew couldn't tame Lady Luck and the opportunity for three points at home slipped away.

You have to admit it was a confusing game for Columbus. A new lineup brought energy to the match, but a lack of true finishing and the leaking of goals defensively was still an issue. The home team was much improved in the eyes of many, but there is still much to do early in the season.

But Crew head coach Robert Warzycha was optimistic that this indeed was the start of something positive.

"I think this is something we can build on," Warzycha commented. "With the new guys in the lineup, I think we did a pretty good job."

The Crew remain at home for a matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday. The Whitecaps are currently 3rd in the Western Conference with 7 points and a 3-2-2 record.


Crew Suffer Setback in Philly

CHESTER, PA - April 14, 2012 - The Columbus Crew suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon in a match televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network. A 38th minute penalty by Gabriel Gomez proved to be enough for the home team to earn its first win of the season in a very physical match that saw referee Michael Kennedy hand out seven cautions.

The match began with very strong intensity as both teams were looking for a positive result. The first chance of the match came in the 9th minute when the Union’s Lionard Pajoy found himself going one-v-one with Chad Marshall in the box only to see Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum smother the ball to deny the goal opportunity.

The first clear opportunity for the Crew came in the 21st when Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams was called for a handball outside the box to give the Crew a free kick from a favorable position. Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld found himself on the receiving end of the kick and took his chance but the shot was blocked by a Union defender.

In the 34th Olman Vargas crossed a ball in the box but both Schoenfeld and Ethan Finlay were unable to connect with the ball. The play that would change the course of the game came in the 37th minute when Philadelphia midfielder Freddy Adu sent a cross into the box and the ball found the arm of Crew defender Eric Gehrig, prompting Kennedy to point to the penalty spot. Gomez took the shot easily slotting the ball to the left of Gruenebaum for the 1-0 Philadelphia lead.

Gruenebaum was called upon again in the 52nd minute as he saved a point blank shot from Union defender Keon Daniel. The Black & Gold’s best scoring chance came when Vargas found himself alone in front of the net, in the 54th minute, but Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath came flying off his line to make the save.

The Crew had another chance four minutes later with a Shaun Francis cross looking for Schoenfeld but MacMath was quick to clear the ball. The Crew continued to look for the equalizer as the match wore on but was unable to capitalize on its chances fixing the result at 1-0.

Henry and Cooper Push Red Bulls Past Crew

Photo Credit: Derrick Smith/ISNSoccer.comColumbus, OH - April 7, 2012 - Thierry Henry paced the New York Red Bulls with two goals and an assist, while teammate Kenny Cooper added a brace of his own as the visitors took it to the Crew by a 4-1 margin.

Cooper scored early in just the 3rd minute, slotting one to the left of Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum after being loosely defended by his marker. Cooper would strike again in the 13th minute, floating a header between the Crew center backs to the left of Gruenebaum. The quick strikes by New York put Columbus on their heels, forcing them to focus on containment rather than pushing forward.

New York's pressure continued with a Henry goal in the 40th. Henry approached from the left wing, moved diagonally toward goal before slidefooting it into the right corner of the goal. Truly a trademark move by an iconic striker, reminiscient of his days at Arsenal.

The Crew attack was nearly nonexistent in the first 45 minutes as the Red Bulls dominated possession (60% to 40%) and opportunities (9 shots to 5 shots). The Crew struggled to cope with New York's play on the wings, especially speedster Dane Richards, who helped set up service for the Red Bull strikers.

The second half was a particularly different story. Some might say that New York took their foot off the gas, while optimistic Crew fans might say that Columbus stepped up thanks to the energy of second half subs Ethan Finlay and Dilly Duka. Whatever the case, the Crew had more opportunities and were much more dangerous as the game progressed. Columbus had plenty of chances, but converting on those chances was a bit problematic. Duka, Finlay, and Renteria all had legimate shots at a goal, but something kept each from scoring as the ball wouldn't bounce the Crew's way under any circumstance. A Chad Marshall header would put the Crew on the board at 3-1 in the 89th, but Henry answered with his second of the night just a minute later.

The 4-1 result was disappointing for Crew players, fans, and of course head coach Robert Warzycha.

"I think we played against a very good team," Warzycha stated in the postgame press conference. "We didn''t do much to score goals."

The Crew hit road to face the Philadelphia Union on April 14, while the Red Bulls head home to face the San Jose Earthquakes on the same date.

Match Photos from Pam Moody and Derrick Smith

Red Bulls vs. Crew Analysis

Saturday’s game was definitely a game of two halves with regards to the Columbus Crew’s performance. It became apparent from the first minute of the game that too much respect was being paid to Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper with regards to the time and space that they were being given. Within three minutes the Crew found themselves being punished for this when Henry was given time to clip a ball into Cooper who had all the time in the world to chest, turn and fire in the bottom corner from the edge of the 18 yard box. This was a huge tactical breakdown from the Crew as by employing simple basics that players learn at a young age of firstly closing Henry down and not allowing him to play forwards and then getting ‘touch-tight’ to Cooper and not allowing him to turn this goal could have been stopped.

Throughout the entire first half the amount space given to the Red Bulls was a constant problem in the defensive aspect of the game and allowed numerous chances to be created through their patient possessing and willingness to work off the ball and create space in behind the Crew fullbacks. When Columbus were in possession in the first half, the lack of width created meant the possession was too often easily given away either through being easily closed down or by just knocking long balls forward that were easily defended. In the second half Columbus came more and more into the game. This was partly down to New York sitting back and relaxing a little, but also down the change in the strategy of the Crew.

Kirk Urso came more into the game and the introduction of Ethan Finlay was huge. These players took more control of the ball and allowed the Crew to create width and penetrate the NYRB defense either down each wing or with through balls created due to the space in behind that appear due to the full backbeing stretched wide to mark. Overall in the second half the way in which Columbus play was very creative and opportunities were abundant with the Crew having at least four genuine goal scoring opportunities. However, it became evident again that poor marking and the ease at which the visitors could penetrate in behind the Columbus fullbacks was still there with the fourth goal in the final minutes to once again make the game safe after Chad Marshall’s goal.

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