Takeaway Points: Chivas USA
In nothing short of a must-win game, the Crew prevailed in beating Chivas USA Wednesday night behind Justin Meram's winner in the 89th minute. Here are a few takeaways from the morning after:
1. HAMMER CLEAN SHEET
While the Crew struggled to find the back of the net last night, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum returned from a scary collision with the goal post on Saturday night to make several key saves to keep Chivas USA scoreless.
Gruenebaum and the back line in front of him combined for the Black & Gold's first shutout since July 21. Chad Marshall's interception at midfield spurred the sequence that lead to Justin Meram's winner in the 89th minute.
"It's a team effort top-to-bottom," Gruenebaum said after the win. "The communication was really good tonight, guys were playing for each other and winning individual battles. It was something we have to keep going to stay in the [MLS Cup Playoffs] race."
2. MERAM MAGIC
While Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín gave the Chivas USA defense all it could handle for most of the second half, it was Meram who finally put the Crew ahead 1-0 in the final moments on Wednesday to finish off the one-two punch of Higuaín and Arrieta. Meram's winner came on a rebound from Dan Kennedy's save of Arrieta's header from an Higauín cross.
"It was a good ball in," Chivas USA defender Danny Califf recalled the sequence of events. "We were kind of all pulled up to the 18 and the it slipped in and got the ball across. Dan [Kennedy] made a really good first save. [Meram] struck it really well when it came out. It’s just one of those plays, and it was a good play by the Crew."
It was Meram's first goal since May 23 and his fourth this season.
3. ONTO THE NEXT ONE
Like most of the past month, the Crew faces a quick turnaround as the team heads to Chicago to face a surging Fire side. Sitting a point ahead D.C. United in the fifth and final playoff spot with five matches left to go, Robert Warzycha's squad knows there is a lot of work left to be done.
Heading into to Wednesday's match, the Crew felt anything short of three points would be a disappointment. The victory over Chivas USA will surely set the tone for Saturday's clash in Chicago.
"There were six games left [heading into tonight's match]," Warzycha said after the match. "Obviously we knew before the game that we had to win to get into the Playoffs. Chivas was a very important [game] and in this League anyone can win against anybody."
"We needed that tonight," Meram added. "Especially at home in front of a great crowd on a great night. We would have been disappointed with a tie, so we're very happy with the result and we'll need to keep going and build on this in Chicago."