I have to admit, I stared at the screen for 15 minutes and maybe had a drink before I convinced myself to finally sit down and write up a recap of the Chicago Fire v. Columbus Crew game tonight. If you weren’t aware, the Fire v. Crew Midwest rivalry is one of the oldest of the league, and it can get pretty heated at times.
My Columbus Crew were on a six-game unbeaten streak and as the boys headed up north, I for one was hoping they could keep that alive against the Fire. But Chicago have been on a streak of their own. After whooping the New York Red Bulls 3-1 last Sunday, it was easy to tell right from the kick off that Chicago were feeling a bit lucky.
Their play was quick and with striker Marco Pappa up front, they put the pressure on and were rewarded with a goal in the second minute! This was not how we wanted to start off this match! Being a goal up not only asserted Chicago’s dominance early, but upped their confidence.
With the Crew’s midfield absolutely no where to be found and the offense of the Fire continuing to test the back line, it was no real surprise when Dominic Oduro put Chicago’s second goal in the back of the net at the 26th minute. I was in absolute despair. It was a little over half way through the first half and we were down by two?!
The scariest bit of this was our play. It was flat with no urgency. The Crew weren’t winning the ball and even worse, they were spending more time in their half than pushing against the Fire.
Salvation came in the form of a studs-up tackle from Gonzalo Segares against the Crew’s Kevan George, which resulted in a straight red card. Now with a man up, I figured it was certain the Crew would step up and come back to at least tie. That wasn’t too much to ask for, right? After all, the red card occurred in the 29th minute, so there was plenty of time.
Having a man up helped in the 36th minute when Tony Tchani was able to slot a nice little goal right to the center of the goal. This was a good sign; at least 10 minutes left in the half, a man up and within one goal of tying, chances were looking a little brighter for the Columbus Crew.
But it wasn’t meant to be. I really couldn’t tell there was anything different in the second half, other than the Crew getting a bit more possession. But there was no way the Crew were going to pull level with only one player – Emilio Renteria - getting chances on goal. Yeah, Eddie Gaven had more of a presence in front of goal and Josh Williams even had a header toward goal that Fire keeper Sean Johnson had to step up and save, but that was about it.
The urgency that I would have liked to see after the Fire’s first goal way at the beginning of the game finally showed up in the Crew squad around the 80th minute. The Crew offense started to pressure more and the Fire were made to scramble against counter attacks. But Columbus couldn’t finish.
Even with a man down, the Chicago Fire made their chances count and they did it early. This was their bit of revenge too, as the Crew beat them in Columbus with the same score, 2-1.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t disappointed in the result. The Columbus Crew were given an opportunity to get themselves back in the game and it was a little wasted. But this is a young team and not entirely use to each other this season. There have been several changes to the Crew over the past couple seasons and it’s pretty safe to say that we’re still going through a bout of growing pains.
There are going to be lots of things this team gets right and lots still they will get wrong. Getting beat by their northern rivals – who I will admit are getting into a nice rhythm – is just a stepping stone in learning what works and what doesn’t. The Crew have plenty of talent and work ethic to bust their butts into getting in a nice rhythm of their own.