If you're looking to feel good about things, you might have come to the wrong place. And you might be a fan of the wrong team right now.
Columbus Crew SC hosted the Montreal Impact on Saturday, and what looked like a positive performance, three points and a renewed goal-scoring vigor two-thirds of the way through the game, ended up being a 4-4 draw. In other words, the Black & Gold let a three-goal, second-half lead at home get away.
If you came someplace to commiserate, however, come on in. Here are some of my thoughts, most of which are negative.
Can there be any other emotion right now?
A week ago I wrote about what I thought was one of the most disappointing, frustrating Crew SC performances in some time. Then, a week later, the team goes and does it again ... in a game that should have been nothing but good vibes.
There are a lot of things that could be picked apart in this game — a few good, many bad — but at the end of the game I wrote one word at the end of my notes in all capital letters, bigger than the rest. AWFUL.
Remember that bit about urgency?
Last week I wrote that I thought the team lacked any urgency or intensity. It came out with more of it today. It got an early goal, it bounced back after losing the lead and it had some moments of crisp ball movement
The best example was Federico Higuain's first goal. It came off a 14-pass sequence that started with Steve Clark and in which every Crew player touched the ball other than Kei Kamara. It started on the right, moved to the left and then flipped back to the right on a nice central interchange and Wil Trapp switch. Every pass had purpose. Then Pipa reads the play, and rather than floating into space higher in the box, makes a hard run to the near post and is perfectly positioned to capitalize on some good fortune.
The end result is here, even if this clip doesn't show what made the goal great:
I include that so that I can write something positive.
However, that positive intensity gave way to a completely unacceptable malaise midway through the second half and, ultimately, two points dropped.
You can not have a three-goal lead in the second half at home and come away with anything less than three points. Columbus did not remain mentally sharp, and it paid for it.
One more decent thing
Cory Ashe made his Black & Gold debut on Saturday, and it was solid. He was responsible, worked hard both ways and was involved in two of the goals (one directly and one less directly in the long buildup). That said, he wasn't as involved throughout the game as one would like, but I would chalk that up to his first game action with the team (and remember he hasn't been healthy, which has limited time in practice as well).
There's a good chance Waylon Francis misses time for Copa America. This team is going to need Ashe to play well, so it was important to get him integrated. Of all the players on the field at the feet of which you can lay blame for this one, Ashe is way down the list.
A late set-piece goal following a substitution. Sound familiar?
Positioning is questionable, there's no communication and there's no reaction. Magnetism in action — three players are covering Didier Drogba. One (Justin Meram) reads the throw terribly and jumps way before the ball gets there; one (Francis) does nothing but stand on his back; one (Tyson Wahl) steps forward when there are already two defenders sandwiching Drogba and makes a half-hearted leap. That's instead of being deeper to help clean up the mess that follows, with Dominic Oduro playing 1 v nobody as he stands in a gap a million miles wide. Kamara, meanwhile, is the near post guy, doesn't read the attacking movement early in the play and ends up just filling space.
I said in my pregame piece that set pieces would matter, and they did.
Call it a discussion or call it an argument, it's been a hot topic — who should be taking the penalty kick?
After Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara got into a debate, we'll say, over who should get to take the PK, many said it was a sign of deep-seated issues for the team. My initial reaction was, "Meh. It seemed to be a one-off thing, and you see it happen from time to time." Pipa is a talented guy with an ego who has long taken penalty kicks for Columbus (even if there have been stretches where he seemed to struggle with it). Kei, meanwhile, was sitting on his first career hat trick. It's easy to see why both would want to take it, and in the heat of battle, a brief tug of war ensues.
I wasn't that worried until I read the postgame comments from Kamara. To me, his response speaks more to locker room strife than an argument over who takes the kick. It was painful to read them.
I'm sure Kamara was frustrated by the final result, and as a journalist I appreciate his candor, but it's worrisome that he was caught up in that moment — lest we forget that Higuain did, indeed, score the kick, which counts the same no matter who takes it — rather than various other moments that cost CCSC the game.
If this team is rolling along, this moment is never talked about again. Instead, things bubble to the surface. Two different personalities who want to be recognized for their major influence on the team all of a sudden can't conceal that because there's nothing else positive to hang their hats on right now.
And speaking of selfish... How about what Kei does in the 90th minute, when instead of pushing the ball to the right for a shot from an open Ethan Finlay, he tries to get a shot off around a pair of defenders. Here's a striker thinking "We're winning, I want my hat trick." The shot didn't get through, and three minutes later Crew SC wasn't winning anymore.
An additional note: from a fan's perspective, it's a really bad look to be moaning about missing out on last year's Golden Boot. This is a new season. Those kinds of awards are nice, but have limited value to fans, who were simply happy having Kei score in boatloads to help his team win. Hearing sour grapes about how not taking PKs probably cost you the Golden Boot is not endearing at all for a guy who has been almost 100 percent endearing in his career.
The honeymoon is over
For further discussion...
This is six thoughts, so I couldn't talk about how the Black & Gold should have had five or six goals, but missed good opportunities early in the game; I can't talk about how chances were created (and even capitalized) on the counter, and how that should become a more regular part of the team's play; I can't talk about how critical it was to control possession in the first half to limit Montreal's chances, and how, for a second week in a row, that possession tilted to an even playing field in the second and, hence, more opportunities for a talented opposition's attack; I can't talk about Tony Tchani being completely dropped from the game-day 18, something that got overshadowed, I believe, with the PK controversy.
So feel free to discuss all that in the comments section below.