Take the following with a grain of salt. The Chicago Fire are not a very good team right now and often false positives come when a struggling, talented team, Columbus Crew SC, faces a struggling, less-talented team. I am not in the business of making measured well calculated takes though, so here are my hot (and slightly optimistic) takes.
More defensive fullbacks made the offense actually looked more creative
Massive Report's own Emperor Patrick Guldan has been critical of Berhalter's "plan B" offense. The offensive game plan seems to be "Cross to Kei Kamara" and if that doesn't work Berhalter adjusts to "Cross it to Kamara Again." And when all else fails, Crew SC fan see the team adjust to "Cross it to Kamara, also, here's Aaron Schoenfeld." Last night, however, with the Fullbacks ordered to take their defensive assignments more seriously, the four attacking players were forced to go to "plan D".
This plan apparently was "take advantage of the space between defenders, go wide if necessary to take focus off Kamara and Federico Higuian, and keep possession until you can get a shot off." This worked extremely well. We see this in sports and life. When a crutch is taken away, adjustments are needed to compensate and many times a better option is found inadvertently by necessity. Ball movement was great last night and the Fire were unable to lock in on any one offensive player or strategy.
Will Trapp is the real first half MVP
Sometimes it is easier to measure a players worth by his absence rather than his presence. This has certainly been the case for Wil Trapp this year. He linked the defense and attacking players better than I've seen all season. He slid effortlessly into his defensive responsibilities, covered for Michael Parkhurst and Tyson Wahl when needed, and even contributed in the attacking third.
The team even looks more confident with him on the field. Wil Trapp is the comfort blanket for the midfield. Tony Tchani played one of his best and most creative games of the season with the confidence that Trapp was behind him to cover for any errors. Many have said that Trapp coming back into the team wouldn't fix the major issues since he isn't a defender, but with No. 20 on the field, he is able to cover defensive errors as well as provide offensive creativity. Trapp is the support that holds the structure together, just as the nails in a house aren't seen but vital to the structure as a whole.
Eric Gehrig was a major loss for Crew SC
My take on this isn't really all that hot. Many fans said at the time that losing Gehrig as a utility player would hurt the team and the coaching staff didn't want to see him go. In two games against the Chicago (yes I know the stadium is in Bridgeview, and the Tampa Bay Rays really play in St. Petersburg, who gives a rip) Fire, Gehrig has made me wish head coach Gregg Berhalter protected him in the supplemental draft. He is what this team needs in every aspect. He works hard, shows passion, inexpensive, defensively capable and is easy to see on an standard definition video feed. Columbus would be better off having him this year as a right back fill in or possible defensive midfield stand in during Trapp's absence.
Chad Barson deserves an extended look at right back
It is a long held tradition that fans of struggling teams overreact to a strong performance of a beloved back up. Even when said back up has not shown "starting" ability in practice or in limited chances. Let me be the next to carry that torch for Chad Barson.
Barson has not gotten much of a chance this season at the right back spot because he does not offer as much on the offensive side of the ball as Chris Klute or Hector Jimenez. He is strong defensively however and that is much more what this team needs right now. He held the line with the center backs well and stifled chances throughout the game last night. While he didn't contribute much to the offense, he picked his spots to go forward well and didn't sacrifice much of his defensive responsibilities to do so. Crew SC's offense is strong without fullbacks pressing forward, they don't need Barson to bomb up the field at every chance. They do, however, need help on the defensive side of the ball and Barson offers that.
Columbus still needs a piece before the window closes.
By now it seems the Brazillian wonder kid, Zeca, has found his way out of the deal that would have sent him to the Black & Gold this summer. This has left fans wondering who will be the next potential signing to fill the spot. I believe, however, if Crew SC are going to make a move for a defender it should be at the center back position rather than right back. Columbus are thin there. We have seen that Wahl can play well on a spot start, but isn't capable of taking starting minutes from Pogatetz or Parkhurst. For Berhalter to get the most of of his center backs, he needs to bring in a player who can realistically challenge for starting minutes.
For as much as they emphasize crossed, Crew SC should be better at corners
The Black & Gold haven't been dangerous off corner kicks this year, yet to score on one. Forget scoring, have they even put the ball in a dangerous position off a corner kick in the last 10 games?
Columbus makes its living off crosses and corner kicks are little more than a long cross. Crew SC set pieces as a whole in the attacking third have not been very good this year. The style of this team generates a large number of set pieces and corner kicks and it seems to me like they should be better at them. This is the kind of thing that, for a small market team, can mean the difference between playoff victory and going home early. I am not the coach of this team so I don't know what goes on in practice, but I would like to see more of a threat coming from corner kicks in the future.