Views From Field Level (Crew vs Impact Edition)

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©2012 Sam Fahmi/MassiveReport

Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh. Do you smell that? THAT is the smell of Crew season starting. The smell of brats, burgers, hot dogs, chili, wings, brownies, cupcakes, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, "Magic Pepsi", Whiskey, smoke bombs, flares and, NEW in 2012, Barbasol Aloe.

So, the "Crewsmas" related parties are now over. The first home game is under our collective belts and we finally get to see the fruits of off season Front Office moves live and in color. The excitement in the air before the game was THICK. Suits from the Crew Front Office, team ownership, Hunt Sports Group and even Barbasol were out and about at various supporter group tailgates. Crew general manager Mark McCullers was enjoying a bowl of tailgate chili at the Crew Union tailgate while talking with supporter about the new season. Games of Corn Hole and Beer Pong were about, but you could still tell that the excitement was not complete. In the back of everyone's mind sat the last time we saw the team play. Not a pretty memory. Yeah, it was the first game of the season and it was in a place where the team historically underperformed. CAUTION. You can even call it cautious optimism evident in our confidence poll that was down to 41% just 24 hours before game time.

So, how did the Crew look verses the expansion Montreal Impact? Well, You can read the game recap by our very own Aaron Katzeman to catch you up. Here are my thoughts.

  • How does the ideal 4-4-2 look in game action? See image belowIMG_6220
  • As Eddie Gaven bolts and shakes the defenders down the right sideline, he sends the ball back towards TWO dangerous forwards and a lethal midfielder just waiting at the edge of the 6 yard box. Should Robert Warzycha continue to play the 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, expect to see a lot of action in the opposition box.
  • Two new major signings in the off-season? Both Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas got on the score sheet in front of the home crowd. Both players looked fairly comfortable and meshing well with the rest of the team.
  • Vargas could have had a couple of more goals had it not been for some acrobatic saves by Impact goalie Donovan Ricketts. I really REALLY like Vargas' approach of playing the back post. For years, the Crew have played set pieces that would go to the back post only to go for nothing because there was no one there. Vargas also has the speed and body to be able to hold the ball a little, redistribute to the wingers and reposition.
  • Emilio Renteria was physical and provided a headache for the Montreal defense. Impact players resorted to a lot of hard tackling to keep him from making plays. The communication between him, Vargas and Mirosevic is not 100% there yet, but you can definitely see the progress. Mirosevic, Vargas and Renteria could be the most lethal trio in Major League Soccer this year.
  • Kirk Urso is getting better. His confidence level is going up and he is starting to take shots from outside the box. I am high on Urso and I think he will continue to get better the more he is paired up with the experience of Mirosevic in front of him and Chad Marshall and Danny O'Rourke behind him.
  • Andy Gruenebaum was a BEAST between the pipes. Acrobatic saves, good distribution, no rebounds and good decisions on set pieces. Gruenebaum proves time and time again that the Crew has TWO starting caliber goalies.
  • Shaun Francis had a fantastic pinpoint cross for the assist on Vargas's goal, that reminded many fans of his old self. For the first time, between the scrimmages and the home opener, I could see actual significant progress in his game. He is not 100% yet in my opinion, but I think the signing of Nemanja Vukovic may have added a bit of fire to his position.
  • LOTS OF SHOTS FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX.
  • The Crew's home opener was every bit as exciting as the 18,000ish in attendance had hoped it would be. Yes, there still remains some doubt about this team (there always is really), but the truth of the matter remains that there was PROGRESS. I respect Warzycha for realizing the his beloved 4-5-1 was NOT going to work with these players. Not because the players are not good, but because that is not a system that they have been successful in. The next two weeks are going to be crucial as the Crew take on TFC in Toronto (0-2) , then return home to take on Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls (currently 1-2) at Crew Stadium the following week.

Could the Crew possibly pick up all six points from those two games? If not, how may points would satisfy your fan heart? Do you think that Olman Vargas looks like a taller David Beckham?

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