Categorized | Match Reports

The Crew drown in the Rapids

Posted on 03 July 2010 by jzidar

The Crew went into Commerce City, Colorado hoping to put a positive footnote on what was turning out to be their worst week of play in 2010. Unfortunately for the black and gold the nightmare wasn’t over yet…

Columbus

—————Hesmer—————-

-Brunner–Marshall–Iro–Padula-

—————–Carroll—————-

—Gaven——Moffat—–Rogers—

——–Lenhart—-Schelotto——–

Bench: Gruenebaum, Zayner(Brunner 53′), Francis, Ekpo(Moffat 80′), Renteria(Padula 86′), Oughton, Garey

Colorado

——————Pickens—————–

—Wynne—Baudet—Moor—Earls—

-Larentowicz–Ballouchy–Mastroeni-

—–Cummings—-Casey—-Clark——

Bench: Joyce, Palguta(Baudet 76′), Smith(Ballouchy 75′), Thompson(Casey 65′), LaBauex, Amarikwa, Lopez

Head coach Robert Warzycha returned to Columbus ahead of the team to attend his daughters graduation and so it fell to Technical Director Brian Bliss and Assistant coaches Mike Lapper, Ricardo Iribarren and Vadim Kirillov to lead the Crew against the Rapids.  The Crew coaching staff chose not to stick with the starting lineup that had battled San Jose to a 2-2 draw just three days earlier.  Columbus hasn’t been able to maintain a true ‘starting 11’ so far in 2010 due to injuries, suspensions and national team callups but the men that took the field Saturday night were as close as the Crew have gotten to their first choice lineup lately.

Moffat returned to the center of the park despite being a weak link in the midfield for a majority of the games lately. Previously, Gaven had posted up in the center with Carroll against San Jose with Renteria taking his place on the right side. While the return of Moffat to the lineup wasn’t necessarily a positive move, especially considering the fact that the tandem of Rogers, Gaven and Renteria had worked quite well against the Earthquakes, the omission of Jed Zayner from the back line allowed the fans a momentarily sigh of relief.

Zayner had seen large increase in playtime during the 2009 season and proved himself to be a capable replacement as a outside back should Hejduk or Padula pick up a knock.  As 2009 wore on and Hejduk’s form continued to drop, especially in the 2009 playoff series against Real Salt Lake.  preseason of 2010 had some fans discussing the possibility of taking away the starting right back position from the much beloved Columbus captain, Hejduk, and handing the position to Zayner.  If the coaching staff was aware of the fans concerns they didn’t listen and so far in 2010 Hejduk has maintained his position at right back and proven that the end of ’09 was merely a short slump.  A week before what was undoubtedly one of the most important matches of the Crew’s 2010 season, the ‘Battle of the Best’, Hejduk picked up a hamstring injury. Danny O’Rourke had also picked up an injury and so Zayner went on to start against LA and again four days later against San Jose.  Despite his best efforts Zayner ultimately lead to the downfall of the Crew in both matches. In the LA match Zayner left his man, Michael Stephens, unmarked inside the box on a Galaxy counter attack and Stephens put his team ahead with free volley from 12 yards out.  LA bunkered for the remainder of the game before getting another quick breakaway goal to defeat the Crew 2-0.  Four days later at San Jose Zayner got the start yet again and like before he had made a slight defensive mistake that turned three points into one. The Crew led the Earthquakes 2-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the match when Zayner unnecessarily fouled Bobby Convey along the left side, deep in the Crew end of the field.  Convey served in a perfect ball which was knocked in by Chris Wondolowski.  The game ended 2-2 and the Crew left San Jose wondering what went wrong. After all that it wasn’t surprising to find Columbus’ starting lineup for the Colorado match lacking Zayner’s name.

Both teams came out and played lazy soccer right from the start. Neither team seemed to really care about the match and it didn’t get any better as the game wore on.  As the teams came out of the locker rooms it was apparent that their attitudes hadn’t changed and the game was headed for a 0-0 draw.

In the 53rd minute Eric Brunner was subbed off due to what was described as ‘hip tightness’ and Zayner came on in his place.

In the 74th minute Columbus had what was their best chance all game when Gaven intercepted a terrible pass by Mastroeni around midfield. Gaven raced toward goal and at upon reaching the top of the box he sent the ball along the ground between to defenders to Lenhart. Lenhart had the presence of mind to heel pass the ball to Schelotto who was racing into the box and was wide open. It looked as if a goal was imminent and then to the surprise of everyone Schelotto sent the ball careening into the stands. The Argentine was 12 yards out with no defender in sight and powered the ball over the crossbar.

A minute later the Rapids dismantled the Columbus defense with some deft passing only to have Cummings’ shot be denied by the post. 30 seconds after that at midfield Lenhart fouled Mastroeni and then proceeded to poke the ball into Mastroeni while he was still kneeling on the ground. Mastroeni then lunged at Lenhart and it appeared as if he tried to bunch him in the groin. The referee issued a yellow to Lenhart and a red to the Colorado captain. Mastroeni spent the next minute berating the referee before finally allowing himself to be led off the field.

Despite being a man up the Crew didn’t amp up their attack and utilize their man advantage. With both teams playing as if sedated the game seemed destined to end 0-0 but then in the 85th minute the Zayner curse struck again…  Colorado earned a free kick towards midfield.  As Jaime Smith prepared to launch the ball into the box players took up their marks and jockeyed for position. Smith sent the ball towards the back post.  Drew Moor caught Zayner ball watching as he dove into the air and placed the ball between Hesmer and the post to put Colorado up 1-0.

The Rapids would make the lone goal stand up over the final minutes of the match and the Crew would return home from their two game road trip with only one of six possible points.  In the span of eight days Columbus went from being undefeated to having two losses tacked onto their record. The World Cup break couldn’t have arrived at more appropriate time.

(It needs to be said that in no way is Jed Zayner a terrible player. He is being groomed to replace not just any right back, but team captain and US international, Frankie Hejduk. Those are big shoes to fill but Zayner has the football skills and charisma to take on the task. He has proven numerous times that he has the skills necessary to compete at the MLS level and above. He was part of the historic 1-0 victory at the Monster’s Cave in Costa Rica against Saprissa during the ’09/’10 CONCACAF Champions League. He never shuns an opportunity to interact with the Nordecke and pump up the fan base. He does fabulous work with his charity, Filleo (Join, Donate, Volunteer).  Padula and Hejduk are in their mid 30s and only have so many more games left in them.  Zayner, along with the likes of Danny O’Rourke, Andy Iro and Eric Brunner, is the future of the Columbus back line.  Zayner is merely experiencing a run of bad form and unlucky breaks, just like all players experience during their career. He will rebound and when he does expect him to be playing at a level even higher than before.)

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here