Running Diary: Crew at Chivas USA
It feels like ages since the team last took the field last Saturday to knock off Real Salt Lake. Now they head West to face Chivas USA in an attempt to keep their six-game undefeated streak alive.
Here's a running diary of my thoughts as scrawled in a notebook while watching the match at King Avenue 5 (some embellishments added)...
The Crew's starting lineup: The defense is holding fast with Will Hesmer in goal and Frankie Hejduk, Marcos Gonzalez, Chad Marshall and Rusty Pierce on the back line. It's tough to tell exactly who is a midfielder and who is a forward, but the lineup is rounded out by Danny O'Rourke, Stefani Miglioranzi (aka Migs), Andy Herron, Eddie Gaven, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (aka Guille) and Alejandro Moreno. Interesting that Gaven got the nod over Ned Grabavoy, as did Herron over Jacob Thomas.
Chivas' starters: Brad Guzan, Lawson Vaughn, Claudio Suarez, Shavar Thomas, Orlando Perez, Francisco Mendoza, Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Jonathan Bornstein, Maykel Galindo, Ante Razov. A lot of heroes (Bornstein, Galindo, Guzan) and villians (Marsch, Razov) in that lineup.
1st minute: From the sound of the Crew fans surrounding me, Hesmer just did something crazy and/or stupid, but I was still finding my seat when it happened. Anyway, we're off!
3rd: Wow, HD. I haven't had the privilege of watching many sporting events in high definition, but I'm shocked at how well it lives up to the hype. If I could hear stadium sounds instead of bar sounds, I would almost feel like I was in the Home Depot Center.
5th: Amazing slide tackle by Migs leads to a great offensive buildup by the Crew. Gaven, however, returns to his old ways and strikes with little to no control.
6th: Another killer tackle, this time from Chad Marshall, stops a Chivas breakaway. On the ensuing Chivas attack, Razov lifts a weak rainbow into Hesmer's arms.
8th: Some goofy footwork from Rusty Pierce, but the Crew holds on to the ball. As I watch the team attack, a thought comes to mind: The Crew isn't just getting results, it's playing at a higher level than it used to. The Columbus players seem stronger, faster and more creative than they have in years.
12th: Migs can't quite get on the end of Guille's sweet through ball.
16th: Wow, what a move from Guille! He nutmegs Mendoza, then springs Moreno, who is just barely onside. Guzan intercepts the pass before the Crew forward can get to it.
17th: Chivas' Galindo lets forth a flying volley that looks pretty but isn't really that dangerous.
19th: Herron has his pass intercepted. He hasn't been as involved tonight as he has been in other matches lately. Can't tell yet if that's his or his teammates' fault. Meanwhile, Marshall stands up Galindo once...
20th: ...but not twice. A few quick passes in the box lead to Galindo streaking toward the left post. His cross slips past a couple sliding Crew defenders and grazes Razov on the way into the net. 1-0 Chivas. As play resumes, Herron flubs a great scoring chance then loses the ball on the dribble. Maybe we can conclude that it's his fault he's looking terrible tonight?
23rd: Migs evens the match! I was just thinking how nice it is to have Guille taking corner kicks for the Crew, and lo and behold he tallies his seventh assist with a glorious cross that Miglioranzi heads off the bottom of the crossbar and in. 1-1 ballgame.
25th: Hesmer comes through with a big punchout. He seems destined for a busy night; Chivas is running through the Crew D with ease.
26th: HUGE Hesmer save! Marsch's header was on course for the bottom left corner until the fuzzy-haired keeper batted it away.
30th: Few things delight me more than the Chad Marshall renaissance.
34th: Rusty Pierce's offensive forays puzzle me.
35th: Lucky Crew! Galiundo streaks between Pierce and Gonzo but shoots juuuuust left. Interesting fact about Galindo: He's a Cuban native who claimed political asylum in the U.S. after playing for the Cuban national team here two years ago.
41st: A classic Moreno moment. The hard-nosed forward dribbles down the right flank and draws a foul, winning a dangerous free kick. Nothing comes of it, though.
42nd: Ante Razov is a mere five goals away from becoming MLS' all-time goal-scoring leader. It's a shame only one of them came in a Crew uniform.
46th: As we resume, Moreno hurries down the left side to win a Crew corner kick.
54th: Not much to mention so far, other than continued disappointing play from Herron. I've been chatting with a friendly bloke named Jim whose nationality I forgot to inquire about. (I'm not so good at judging accents from the British isles.)
57th: That doesn't look like 10 yards to me...
61st: Ned Grabavoy is on for Herron. Maybe Andy just does better as a super sub? Then again, he tore it up in the first 20 minutes earlier this season, so perhaps he's just frustratingly inconsistent.
66th: Gaven seems to be back to his off-the-mark ways. Walt Wheeler, sitting nearby, correctly advises young Eddie to slow down and take a split second to think before he shoots.
67th: Gonzalez goes down? Nooooooooo!!!
68th: Ezra Hendrickson on for Gonzo. May the Lord be with our departed hero.
69th: Oh #$%&. (2-1 Chivas. Own goal.)
71st: The beer is catching up with me. Switching completely into fan mode now...
73rd: Great cross from Hejduk into Guille, but the header is straight at Guzan.
74th-79th: A lot of sitting pensively or yelling at the TV. Nothing of note happens. (Note: This is Joe Sports Fan's impression of entire soccer matches, but I tell ya, he's missing out!)
80th: Killer Gaven header! Saved! Bah!
81st: It's high time for Kei time!
84th: WTF Kei?!?!?
86th: Frankie! Over the top!
89th: (Here I actually wrote "Frankie cross nabbed by Hejduk." I'm fairly certain Hejduk did not nab his own cross. Perhaps Chivas goalie Brad Guzan did.)
91st: Three minutes of stoppage...
93rd: One last attack... or not.
Final. Crew lose. It had to happen some time, right?