Running Diary: Real Salt Lake vs. Crew

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Pregame: Sideline reporter Katie Witham reminds us that crew midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Danny O’Rourke played together at Indiana. This could explain why both fared so well on opening day. Your ONN announcers: Crew legend Dwight Burgess and “12-year MLS broadcast veteran” Bill McDermott, who must long for Columbus to bring back Dante Washington for the umpteenth time so he can pronounce the forward’s name “Warshington.”

Your Crew starting lineup: Jason Garey, Joseph Ngwenya, Eddie Gaven, Andy Herron, Ned Grabavoy, Danny O’Rourke, Rusty Pierce, Ezra Hendrickson, Marcos Gonzalez, Frankie Hejduk, Andy Gruenebaum.

RSL starters: Jeff Cunningham, Freddy Adu, Chris Klein, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jason Kreis, Carey Talley, (Whatchu talkin’ ’bout) Willis Forko, Eddie Pope, Daniel Torres, Jack Stewart, Nick Rimando. 1st minute: Football lines on the field. In April? This incenses me. Oh yes, we can thank the University of Utah spring football game. I despise that tradition, and not just because it’s messing up my soccer experience right now. Also, Rice-Eccles Stadium is like Spartan Stadium in San Jose in that you can’t see the near sideline on TV. This irks me to no end. Never before have I been so on board for soccer-specific stadiums.

3rd: McDermott talks about Gruenebaum’s great decision-making skills when it comes to venturing off his line. He must have missed Gruenebaum’s fantastic voyage last week.

10th: Garey gets a great ball deep in the box, but he squanders it, and he’s offside.

11th: Garey offside again. Comically offside.

13th: Garey gets another killer ball from Grabavoy with only Rimando to beat, but his club foot (and, OK, maybe the artificial surface) sends his first touch way wide. The ensuing shot is blocked out for a corner.

15th: You’ve gotta give Garey credit for making the right runs and creating dangerous situations, but dude has got to finish. Based on this season so far, he doesn’t seem like the McBride-of-the-future I hoped he might be. Even Jason-Farrell-of-the-future would be pretty sweet right now.

17th: Highlights package just reminded me Adu is on the field. No such highlights so far today—he’s the invisible man-child.

20th: Cunningham and Adu combine, but Adu is blocked. I miss Cunningham so much.

23rd: Gaven strips Kreis and sends a cross to Garey, but it’s a bit wild. Garey’s shot rolls right. I hope he proves me wrong and converts one of these tonight.

26th: Gruenebaum really looks like Tim Howard.

27th: Hejduk is offside on a ridiculous call.

28th: Hejduk receives a pass down the right flank, but his cross is far too strong. Good to see him up in the offensive third more this match, though.

30th: Crew free kick from the left. Grabavoy sends in a sweet cross that “somehow missed the yellow shirts,” says Burgess. It ain’t no surprise.

34th: Ngwenya, back on defense, mishandles a long cross, recovers, then dribbles out of bounds. They’re having trouble with the artificial turf.

35th: Rusty Pierce stops Klein in the box with a tremendous tackle. The home fans want a PK, but replay confirms Pierce

36th: Impressive fancy footwork from Ngwenya in midfield sets up a Crew attack. The resulting corner goes for naught as Gonzalez heads over the top.

38th: Cunningham gives his all to save an errant long-ball, then gets swept away by his momentum, leaving the ball neatly packaged for the Crew defense. Still, what speed. What effort. My Cunningham crush continues.

40th: Nice work by Herron getting past his defender on the left flank, but his cross is no threat.

41st: Grabavoy sends another killer through ball, but thanks to the turf, Ngwenya just misses it. Even if that flub was excusable, Grabavoy must be frustrated to see so much of his great work wasted. It’s hard out there for a pimp.

45th: Gruenebaum scoops up a Real long ball. He hasn’t had anything to do this half. The Crew are dominating the flow, but again they have nothing to show for it.

45th: More hotness from Herron on the left. He passes to Gaven, whose low shot looks promising, but it’s deflected into Rimando’s arms.

46th: Cunningham breaks through and gets off a shot, but Gruenebaum falls on it. The first half expires.

Halftime: Mega fast-forward. Technology rules!

46th: Real cross forces Gruenebaum to punch out. Cunningham’s ensuing longball challenges the keeper, but he covers it. I don’t want to jinx him, but the guy has played 135 minutes of shutout ball so far this season.

49th: Crew has been resorting to long-balls so far this half. They need to get back to holding the ball and running the offense through Grabavoy. Back to the action: Hejduk breaks up some Cunningham brilliance with an illegal slide tackle, but he gets away with it.

50th: They just poured salt and a little arsenic in the wound with a trivia question about “Which Real starter scored 62 goals as a member of the Crew?” ONN is a cruel benefactor.

52nd: Cunningham outruns Ezra and gets behind him for a sure goal, but Gruenebaum saves the day. I like this kid. I think I will call him Dandy Andy until he crosses me.

54th: Jason Garey causes me to make a fart sound with my mouth.

55th: So does Ngwenya! Dad chimes in: “Ngwenya is so inconsistent. I just think somebody who’s wearing the No. 10 shirt should be able to trap and control the ball, you know?” I do, Dad. I do.

58th: Scary long bomb turf-burner from RSL’s Ballouchy. It breaks just barely wide left.

60th: Crew attack is disjointed as Juliet’s shoulder on Lost this week. Also: Ballouchy draws a dangerous free kick just outside the box.

61st: Adu’s free kick curls over the

62nd: The Crew smartly replaces Garey with Kei Kamara. Let’s see him connect!

63rd: Gallouchy has been a terror of late for RSL. I like his white-boy ’fro.

64th: Kamara scoops up a Dandy Andy punchout and gets a sweet ball ahead to Ngwenya. Rimando comes off his line and just barely deflects it away. No Crew player is following up the run, so the empty net goes hungry.

65th: Another RSL free kick, this time thanks to Adu heroics. This is the polar opposite from the first half. Crew needs to settle down.

66th: In a sideline chat, Sigi explains Garey was subtracted because he wasn’t holding the ball up front.

68th: Another super-close RSL free kick. Kreis threads his shot through the wall, but Dandy Andy handles it. On his outlet pass, the Crew builds a sick attack, with a blast from Gaven and a nice, low cross from Hejduk, but Rimando comes to the rescue.

69th: Former Crew defender Torres picks up a yellow card for a dangerous play on Herron during the previous sequence, yet the Crew gets no PK or even an indirect free kick.

72nd: Adu’s one-footedness kills him. You think the kid would be able to shoot from his right by now.

73rd: Duncan Oughton in for Gaven, which will hopefully settle down the midfield. Long ball leads to Herron cross and a hold-your-breath Kamara/Rimando collision. No goal though.

74th: O’Rourke picks up a deserved yellow for persistent infringement.

77th: Nice work from O’Rourke, stealing the ball, dribbling out of trouble and getting off an outlet pass.

78th: You think the Crew could get a high-profile forward for Chad Marshall? The defense seems to be doing OK without him.

79th: Robbie Rogers enters for Ngwenya—the Crew’s final sub. Has RSL made any? I don’t think so. Puzzling.

80th: Kamara drives deep into the box and lets off a pinpoint low cross, which Rimando deals with.

81st: Crew wins a rare corner kick, but it’s futile.

87th: Defensive flub by the Crew allows Cunningham to break down the sideline, but his cross is outright wasteful. This is when you should point out that he hasn’t produced a goal either. And then I remind you that he netted two last time out. He’s the only guy on the pitch right now who’s scored this year.

89th: Crew free kick from way outside. Grabavoy’s service goes wanting. Burgess on the ensuing throw-in: “That’s just not a smart play.”

90th: Still no subs for RSL. Poor coaching?

91st: Grabavoy outlet to Hejduk on the flank. Killer cross, but Kamara’s header goes astray thanks to good positioning from Rimando. That was gasp-worthy. But it didn’t end in a goal. Still, Kamara has proved he needs to be starting.

92nd: Yellow card for Herron. As soon as play resumes, the final whistle sounds. Another 0-0 result.

Your 2007 Columbus Crew: What a tease!