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6-Thought Box: Real change or false positives?

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Gregg Berhalter spoke of accountability and change after last weeks 5-2 loss to Orlando SC. The result was a rare 2-1 road win against the Colorado Rapids Saturday night. In this weeks 6-Thought box answer some of the major questions asked by crew fans

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Berhalter spoke of accountability and change after last weeks 5-2 loss to Orlando SC. The result was a rare 2-1 road win against the Colorado Rapids Saturday night. In this weeks 6 thought box answer some of the major questions asked by crew fans

Fools (Black &) Gold

The crew SC played a very defensive Colorado team Saturday night. The rapids set up in a 4-5-1 and showed little desire to create in open play Likely because they did not want to be caught flat footed against Kamara and Ethan Finlay. So while the defense looked better (at times) Saturday night this may actually be a false positive. Once Colorado employed the high press, Columbus center backs looked rattled and unable to deal with it. Colorado was still able to get behind Tyson Wahl and Michael Parkhurst but a combination of poor attacking and Steve Clark standing on his head covered for mistakes. If Colorado had attacking players at the caliber of Toronto FC, NYCFC, or or Orlando SC (all teams that Columbus could see in knockout games) I'm not convinced the defense would have held up as well. This leads me to believe that the problems that plagued the defense all season have not been fixed despite the solid performance.

Black hole on the left wing

Berhalter elected to play Kristin Steindorsson over Meram Saturday night. This may have been due to fatigue or a regularly scheduled game off, but it's more likely this was a performance based decision. Meram has not performed up to the standard he set last season thus far. With so much competition at the left wing spot it's understandable Berhalter wanted to run another player out to see what kind of production he can get. Well, Steindorsson performed about as well as Meram last night, that is to say, offered next to nothing on the field. Consider the context of the left wing troubles. Teams must focus on Kamara and Finlay based on their form. Higuain also draws considerable attention. This means the left winger should find himself if a plethora of favorable one on one or wide open situations. In fact, the wingers have been in these situations and have nothing to show for it. Against Colorado Meram had a wide open shot at the top of the 18 and he couldn't even put it on frame. Berhalter has wealth of options here and I believe by the time the playoffs come around Berhalter will figure this out. Once the right player fills in the offense will be even more dangerous.

Accounta-what-ity?

Berhalter talked a lot last week about accountability for his players after the most disappointed he'd ever been in his team. Many fans reasonably expected to see changes in the starting line up to reflect the poor performance of the defenders. What came of all this talk of accountability? Nothing. Well, nothing we could see anyway. Wahl and Parkhurst still started despite a trend of poor performances.

Perhaps Berhalter held the players accountable in practice by making them run laps, public team shaming, or hiding their car keys. But the way to send a message to players is by making them ride the pine for a while. As long a a player knows his staring spot, and paycheck, are secure one has to wonder how motivated he will be to improve. By dropping him from the starting line up a sense of uncertainty can set in re-motivating the player.

My fear is that Berhalter is all talk and is unwilling to make tough decisions to give his team a spark. Whatever the way Berhalter chose to hold his club accountable, I don't believe it worked.  The defense was still shaky and was only saved by an anemic Colorado offense and an exceptional Steve Clark.

Needing a Support system

I will leave this open to discussion, as soccer is a fluid game and sometimes it can be difficult to discern a game plan. I, however, did not see a discernible change in system in Saturday's game. This is. It surprising as Berhalter said he didn't believe he needed to change anything. But what changed? The starting line up was nearly the same, the system was the same, the game plan was still naive from a defensive perspective, and the same batch of subs were used.

It's disappointing as a fan to hear the right words, but not see a tangible change on the field. Saturday's game did not give me confidence that Berhalter and his men are able to make the necessary adjustments when the Crew SC face a legitimate offense.

But..

Let's not get greedy

A win on the road is a rarity this season. Columbus is flirting with the wrong side of history by being the first team in Crew SC history to win less than 4 games on the road in a season. They picked up win number two last night even if it was in an unconvincing fashion. In a tight eastern conference ease points are points. They played good enough to win which is something that can't be said often away from home this season.

Pray for health


After 24 games only 5 Crew SC players have scored goals. If any of these players go down the way Jiminez did Saturday night the season could take a disastrous turn. Crew SC are a boarder line eastern conference champion caliber team with all 5 goal scorers healthy. If Kamara, Finlay, or Higuian miss extended time this team looses its teeth. Berhalter took steps in the transfer window to bolster the offense and the addition of Cedrick should also help add depth, but the team is so depended on the three headed monster for goals I wonder how any other pieces would fill in.