Game 7: Columbus Crew v. Chicago Fire: Notes and Grades

USA TODAY Sports

The Crew looked worst than second best on the night if that's possible.

For the benefit of everyone's eyes, I've spared the red pen font. It would have gotten quite a workout during a game where the Crew just didn't look good enough.

  • The Crew performance on Sunday can't be laid at the defense. The back line could have done a better job at clearances, but there was no continuity from moving from defense to offense.
  • The Crew's attacking impetus comes from the fullbacks pushing up, often with the ball. With Josh Williams and Tyson Wahl not getting the ball forward, the Crew offense looked dormant.
  • Not only do Williams and Wahl often bring the ball up, they also provide the width on the team. With both struggling mightily, Columbus essentially played very narrow.
  • Danny O'Rourke and Agustin Viana don't supply enough attacking pressure to relieve the pressure on those outside backs. The defense can push wide knowing that the midfield isn't built to push the ball forward.
  • To counter the lack of élan in the Crew's double pivot, Federico Higuain drops deep. He gets a lot of touches, but often they are far away from goal and he's usually being hemmed in by two defenders.
  • Ultimately, the quick Fire pressure neutralized Higuain and Speas. Speas wilted as he was pinned back and Higuain often tried to make something happen on his own.

Gruenebaum (8): Kept the Crew in the game as he stoutly saved several sure goals. He was helpless to stop the decider.
Williams (3): Didn't provide much going forward and was often struggling to keep track of Lindpere.
Marshall (5): Played solidly under constant pressure
Glauber (4): Didn't get to too many balls and wasn't as big of an influence on the back line as he needed to be.
Wahl (3): Nyarko's speed burned the Crew left back throughout the game and he wasn't a threat on offense.
O'Rourke (5): Dependable in forcing the Fire wide and trying to reduce the direct threat, but needed to play the ball forward in hopes of jumpstarting the offense.
Viana (5): Much like O'Rourke, he needed to look to play forward a bit more often, but tried to keep hold of the ball rather than creating instant turnovers.
Gaven (4): Not influential enough on the right to attract attention from Higuain. He had no crosses from the right and he had no shots.
Higuain (4): Always trying to pick the ball up early, the Fire closed down on him quickly. His passing was notably off too.
Speas (4): He's looked to make too many one on one plays and he's isolating himself on the field. He's not seeing the passing options that would help get him out of trouble.
Oduro (4): Starved for support and rarely saw the ball.
Arrieta (4): Much like Oduro, Arrieta hardly saw enough of the ball to make an impact.
Finlay (4): Wasn't an improvement of the overwhelmed Speas.
George (3): Worst performance of his young career as the Fire pressure rattled him. He also was slow to track on the Larentowicz goal.
Coaching (4): It was apparent that the team came out poorly in the second half, but his subs were like for like. He didn't provide a steadying presence in the middle of the field to take pressure off of Higuain. The entirety of the result isn't his fault, but he didn't change the shape of the team when it was obviously needed.

Note on Grades: I have set 5 as an average performance. The player had both good and bad events on the field. Under 5 is a disappointing performance. Above 5 is a notable performance.

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