Monday, August 3, 2009

This Was A Game Of Inches

The Crew defense dammed up the Rapids offense and the difference in the game was a couple of inches between the two keepers. Late in the first half Cory Gibbs committed an unnecessary (and admittedly, somewhat ticky-tack from what we could see on TV) foul near the top of the box. Chad Marshall lined up the free kick and put it on net. Matt Pickens dove and got to the ball, but allowed it to slip by him and inside the far post for a goal. A few minutes later the Rapids put a cross into the box and Omar Cummings got his head on it and pushed it to the near post, but Crew keeper Will Hesmer dove and managed to stop the ball a couple of inches before it completely crossed the line. Those inches, both on the Pickens miss and the Hesmer save, were the difference in a 1-0 loss for the Rapids.

I've been playing a good deal of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 for the Wii the last few months and one of the common phrases from Scott Van Pelt after a good shot is (in a weak Irish accent) "Useful..Ussefuul shot that...Useful". All I could think of watching his game was "Useless...Usselless soccer that...Useless". While the Rapids controlled most of this game, they did it by passing the ball in the back and middle 2/3rds of the fields then launching it forward and hoping Colin Clark or Omar Cummings could run it down, usually unsuccessfully. The rest of the game was the Crew occasionally making forays into the offensive third, just to be shut down. I think Pickens only had to make one other save, besides the one he missed. The only otter notable event was Ihemelu picking up two yellows and thus a red late in the game.

My key to the game was the defensive battles. I said this back line usually makes one blunder a game, and sure enough they did. Meanwhile since nobody but Cummings stepped up on offense the Crew defense just shut him down and were able to win the game.

Other Observations:
  • The Crew just wrote the book on how to beat the Rapids until another offensive threat other than Cummings emerges. Sit on Omar, shut him down, wait for the inevitable mistake from the Rapids defense, take the 1-0 win.
  • We started Nick LaBrocca on the right with Ugo Ihemelu behind him and the best offense we got out of the right side was Cummings swinging out wide to cross balls in. It would have been nice if we could have had an offensive threat on the right to set Cummings up. you know, like Terry Cooke?
  • Pat Noonan, Mehdi Ballouchy, did you realize this was an actually game and not a scrimmage? Because you sure didn't look like you felt any urgency to create a goal.
  • Colin Clark looked out of sync after his month off. Not a surprise, but still a bit disappointing.
  • When Baudet is healthy I'd like to see a back line of Kimura - Baudet - Palguta - Harvey. It seems like Ihemelu and Gibbs are making at least one stupid mistake a game just from inattention or not caring. While the other 4 may make a mistake, they'll do it while trying hard and contributing to trying to win.
  • Cummings spent the first half trying to set up a goal, then at halftime obviously realized that his offensive partners had about a snowball's chance in hell of scoring. So in the second half he tried to do it all himself. It let to him losing the ball when he could have passed it, but after the first half I find it hard to blame him.
  • It was good to see Diz and Smith get some time, but they need to become 90 minute players quickly, particularly Smith.
Player of the Game: Omar Cummings. At least he tried to generate some offensive, even if int he process he was a bit too selfish. It was more than anyone else did.

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