Crew Get Goals From Unlikely Scorers
As is becoming the norm for them, the Crew got off to a bit of a sluggish start, with few chances early in the game. Eddie Gaven had a couple of good looks, but failed to make Dallas keeper Dario Sala work much on either. In the 35th minute, ex-Crew forward and recent Dallas acquisition Jeff Cunningham finally notched his 100th career goal after being denied a few times by great efforts from Crew keeper Will Hesmer.
Cunningham’s goal failed to energize the Crew, but Sigi Schmidt’s halftime talk must have done the trick, as Noonan (and later Rogers in his place), Barros Schelotto, Moreno, and Evans combined to create a few chances before defensive midfielder Brian Carroll scored his first goal of the season off of a Guillermo Barros Schelotto pass. 3 minutes later, Evans gave the Crew a lead that they would not relinquish off a flick from Barros Schelotto’s cross into the box.
The season-high announced attendance (tickets sold, not tickets taken) of 17,647 was a great cap on the evening, and the Nordecke seemed much more persistent than usual.
GK Will Hesmer- Confident and steady. Came off his line well, was sure-handed, made few mistakes and his kicking was good, even great at times. Aside from a few Cunningham threats, Dallas didn’t give him much serious work to do, but he still played very well. (8)
LB Gino Padula- Looked rusty after being out for a few months. Got burned on the wing a few times (probably due to his lack of game fitness), didn’t look very sure in the tackle, and didn’t contribute much on offense. Still, he was aggressive and usually well-positioned, and his passing and offensive confidence really improved in the second half. (6)
CB Danny O’Rourke- Was presumably in the spot to keep tabs on the speedy Jeff Cunningham, but if the amount of chances Cunningham had are any indication, he didn’t do a very good job. O’Rourke made a few key stops, but he also seemed too timid at times and got burned by Cunningham more than once. (6)
CB Chad Marshall- The usually solid Marshall got outworked on Dallas’ lone goal, but he was a rock the rest of the game, coming up with several key tackles, and playing aggressively. It would be nice if he had a little more pace, as a few offensive surges ended when he couldn’t track down short Dallas clears. He’s still Columbus’ best defender, and he had another solid outing highlighted by his ability to keep MLS All-Star Kenny Cooper in check. (7)
RB Frankie Hejduk- Hejduk’s always a bit of an enigma on the wing, but he had a decent game. He came up with a few good tackles, but he also looked foolish on some ill-advised and inaccurate sliding attempts. Frankie may be starting to show his age a little, as he’s been increasingly less involved on offense, and less able to cover his defensive position after his runs forward. Other teams can usually exploit his tendency to want to play offensively, but Dallas went more towards the left side of the field. (6)
DM Brian Carroll- The Crew’s unsung hero put in yet another good performance. Mostly stayed invisible (always a good sign for a defensive midfielder), made stops when he had to, and also got a little more involved in the offense than usual, eventually notching his first goal of the season (and only the third of his career in 141 games) with a nice half-volley near the top of the box. (7)
M Pat Noonan- Noonan had a pretty inauspicious start to his Crew career. He’s admitted that he isn’t really game fit yet, and it definitely showed in his relative timidity off the ball, and a few 1-on-1 challenges where he clearly looked like someone that’s used to having a little more burst. Still, he showed flashes and looked very capable with the ball on his feet (probably better than Rogers and Ekpo and certainly better than Gaven). (6)
M Eddie Gaven- Gaven continues to struggle to make much of an impact on the Crew’s offense. He gets muscled off the ball pretty easily, doesn’t have much of a knack for through balls, and isn’t good enough on the ball to take defenders on 1-on-1. For as shaky as he looked on offense, Gaven’s defense is even worse. He rarely tracks back, and his tackle attempts usually look more like football tackles than soccer tackles. He had a mostly quiet game, but also botched a few good chances early on that would have given the Crew much needed early game momentum and didn’t really do anything to redeem himself. (5)
M Brad Evans- Evans, like always seemed to drift in and out of the game. However, less typical for him was the amount of offense that he produced for Columbus. Brad led the Crew in shots for the game and finished off a great Guillermo Barros Schelotto cross for his third goal of the season, which would also be the game-winner. Aside from his goal and a few errant shots, Evans did little that was worth mentioning, but he came through when it mattered. (7)
F Guillermo Barros Schelotto- Guillermo made more mistakes on the ball than I’m used to seeing from him, but more than made up for it setting up both of Columbus’ goals. His vision and passing ability is amazing, even if his 1-on-1 dribbling leaves a little to be desired. Barros Schelotto’s free kicks were a mixed bag today, but none ended up threatening Sala at all. He was also hit and miss from the corner flag, but created a few genuine chances from there. Because of his two assists, Guillermo has to be my Man of the Match. (8)
F Alejandro Moreno- The hard-working Moreno did what he does best: use nothing but grit, determination, and a whole lot of awkward running to get on the end of long balls. Moreno has a great sense of how the ball moves in the air and is very capable as a target man for someone who lacks the ideal size for the job. Although he failed to add to his team-leading 7 goals, Moreno got his 4th assist of the year on Carroll’s goal, and provided plenty of opportunities for the Crew’s offense. (7)
Sub M Robbie Rogers- Rogers was clearly jet-lagged and fatigued from his time in Beijing, but his presence still may have sparked Columbus’ comeback. Although he didn’t get on the ball much and did his usual half-hearted job of defending, Robbie still won a few corners and battled in the box. (6)
Subs D Jed Zayner and M Stefani Miglioranzi- As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a defensive sub and your team doesn’t concede any goals after you go on the field, you’ve done your job. (7)