Week one is in the books. I want to put analysis aside for a second as there will be plenty of time for that. The Columbus Crew SC look fantastic in their black uniforms. The badge is perfect, the subtle checkerboard is perfect, the yellow Barbasol is perfect, and even those stubborn 3 stripes look a stunning yellow against the deep black. The white numbers are easy to see on TV. I can not get enough of those uniforms. Ok. Time to get to the hard hitting analysis you've come to expect from the 6 thought box.
1. There is no need to panic, but...
Sometimes it's just not your night. Tyler Deric was a brick wall, and the crossbar didn't do Federico Higuain any favors either. In the second half they showed an ability to create quality chances. Any other night Columbus Crew SC likely score 2 or 3 goals. If they continue to attack they way they did this game they will find themselves in the win column more often than not.
That being said, there are potential causes for concern. The defense showed a perpetuance for giving the ball away needlessly, and an inability to cover for their mistakes. Gregg Berhalter needs to ensure this does not develop into the same trend from 2014. To top things off The finishing was still substandard. Again. Deric made a few tremendous saves, but some balls were kicked right at him as well.
A defense that give up unnecessary chances and an offense that can't convert could be cause for concern.
2. I loved Gregg Berhalter's post game comments.
The phrase "sophomore slump" is a cliché because it happens regularly. One only need to look at Roberto Martinez taking Everton to a 5th place finish in the English Premier League last year followed up by possible relegation in his second season. With all he excitement for Berhalter's second campaign I couldn't help but wonder if complacency would begin to set in with the coaching staff and players.
The post game comments rid me of all worry. Berhalter complimented Deric and called his team "unlucky" stating they "did everything but score a goal". All of those things are true, but if his comments stop there it could leave his team shrugging their shoulders and not seeking to improve. But Berhalter continued to say "there is still no excuse to lose that game." This tell me that Berhatler will take his boys to task on every little mistake, pushing them to get better even though that played well. Complacency certainly will not be an issue this year. If anything, Berhalter appears even more driving to succeed.
3. Kristinn Steindorsson didn't do enough to take Justin Meram's starting spot.
The most compelling story line of the preseason was who will start on the left wing: Steindorsson or Meram? Steindorsson had an inconsistent but impressive camp and had the advantage of Meram's red card against New England last year to show what he could do against meaningful MLS competition.
The answer? Not enough. A 73% pass completion percentage and 1 shot on target isn't quite enough to supplant a fan favorite and above average finisher Justin Meram. It's not only those statistics either. He failed to influence the game much in the first half and was subbed off in the 80th minute when Berhalter was in despite need of a goal.
Meram will add a different dimension to the offense next week against Toronto FC. He requires a different kind of service to make an impact that Steindorsson. Meram can score from outside the 18 yard box, stretching the defense leaving more room for Kei Kamara to make an impact. His finishing ability will be welcomed back in the side as well.
Steindorsson will be a crucial piece to the 2015 team but probably not as a starter.
4. Great goalkeeping can win points.
Crew SC fans can take this silver lining from Saturday's game: a great goal keeping performance can cover up flaws. The Crew SC outperformed the Dyamo in almost every facet of the game but still came away with a loss because of the brick wall they were shooting against. Steve Clark is capable of the kind of game Deric had Saturday. The Black & Gold defense will continue to give the ball away in dangerous spots but Clark is good enough to cover up those mistakes.
The Crew SC are unlikely to run into many more performances like they faced last night, and with the stronger keeper they should win more games of this nature than they lose.
5. Kei Kamara is what we thought he was
Early in the game Kamara demonstrated that fears about his temper on the field were warranted. He was visibly frustrated with his performance as well as the way defenders were handling him. He also was as expected when he had service. He was good in he air, his header in the first half should have been a goal. When he had chances with his feet they were inconsistent. He probably should have had a few more shots on frame, but Crew SC fans who have watched Kamara know he can be hit or miss. I saw nothing in this performance to concern me that Kamara will be a flop, or that he will score more than 10-15 goals.
6. Hernan Grana was everywhere.
Grana lived up to expectations in his Crew SC debut. He showed an ability to defend his right flank while also pushing forward. What stood out, however was that he spent time all over the field. He played like a box to box defensive midfielder spending time inside the Dynamos 18 yard box as well as creating opportunities in the middle of the field. We're beggining to see why Berhalter targeted him. He has an intuition about where to be at the right time, and when to attack or defend.
What did you notice Crew SC fans? Did I miss anything? Am I way off base? Comment below or message me on twitter to let me hear it.