Crew View: Good things a third of the way through
COLUMBUS -- With Columbus’ 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes last Wednesday, the Crew reached the one-third mark in their schedule, a perfect point in the season to compare where the team stood at this juncture last year.
Right off the bat there are a few similarities: The Earthquakes were the same opponent for Game 10 each season, matches in which Eddie Gaven scored the Crew’s first goal both times and games in which Guillermo Barros Schelotto was a factor in the second tally.
The only differences between the two games are the outcomes and the way in which Schelotto contributed. In 2009, the Crew won 2-1 at home as Schelotto scored the winner; on Wednesday, the Argentine midfielder took the corner kick that was headed home by Chad Marshall for the temporary lead.
“We had a couple of great chances early in the game,” Gaven said about Wednesday’s match. “That’s something that might come back to hurt us. Fortunately, it didn’t. If we would have been a little bit sharper we might have gone up two, three-zero and the game might have been over at that point.”
Luckily for the Crew, their position on the table last year as compared to this year are remarkably different. So far in 2010, Columbus are atop the Eastern Conference with a 6-1-3 record and 21 points. In contrast, the victory over San Jose last season improved the Crew to 2-2-6 (12 points) and moved it into fifth and the squad wouldn’t ascend to first place until July 25.
“I think the big thing is we’re starting to play better,” midfielder Robbie Rogers said. “We haven’t got the results we wanted or thought we deserved the last two games, but we’re on the right track and the results will come.”
Some other comparisons through 10 games: A year ago the Crew had scored 14 goals and allowed 16 without recording a shutout; this year it is 16-10 in goals with four clean sheets. The home record in 2009 was 2-0-3 (9-7 in goals) and the road mark was 0-2-3 (5-9); so far the Crew are 4-1 at home (7-4) and 2-0-3 in away matches (9-6). Finally, Schelotto had six goals in the first 10 games in 2009 to lead the club and is on top now with four.
The Crew has made a living off corner kicks the past three seasons --including the Schelotto-Marshall combination that delivered the decisive goal against New York in the 2008 MLS Cup--, so there was no panic after failing on all 15 tries last Saturday vs. Los Angeles.
Rogers said there was wasn’t extra emphasis on set pieces during Tuesday’s light workout, yet Schelotto and Marshall were able to click once more against the Earthquakes.
“We have the same guys we’ve had the past few years, so it’s pretty routine for us,” Rogers said. “We have so many guys that are great in the air. Guille puts it in the right spot and guys are either there or fight for position to get to it.”
After going scoreless off corners in the first six games, Andy Iro, Emilio Renteria and Marshall have tallied in the past four.
For the second time in less than a month, Rogers received an elbow to the head when San Jose defender Bobby Burling nailed him as they went for a ball on the ground in the 43rd minute.
At least Burling was given a yellow card on that play. Chivas USA’s Michael Lahoud opened a cut above Rogers’ eye on May 15, but wasn’t even called for a foul.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Crew’s match at Colorado on Saturday is the last until they face D.C. United on June 26.
A NUMBER OF THINGS
- Marshall became the eighth Crew to score this year.
- Gaven is second on the team with three goals.
- Schelotto broke a tie with Gaven and injured Frankie Hejduk with his third assist.
- The Crew dropped to 5-0-1 when scoring first and is 3-0-2 when tied at the half.
- The Crew have not worn their black uniforms this season. Since the start of 2008, they are 1-2-3 (1-0 home) when they play in their black kits.