Last night was the first Crew game that I got to watch in 6 weeks. It was against the most disgusting cheating, hacking, and diving franchise in all of MLS's history. We lost 5-1. 5 fuckin 1. So much for the three game unbeaten streak. And though we lost 5-1, I can still take comfort in the fact that DC Coach Peter Nowak is a closet racist. Actually I guess there really is nothing comforting in that. Just the hopes that one day, hopefully good will prevail over evil. One day. Like the next time Columbus plays those assholes.
The Crew has huge problems right now. They have 4 goalkeepers injured. 4. Most MLS teams don't carry more than 3, but the Crew? They have 4 on the injury list. Fantastic. Somehow through all that they went into halftime last night tied 1-1 and were actually playing decent soccer. They gave up a PK early after Eskandarian flailed around in the box like a fish out of water. And then Jamie Moreno scored his 100th MLS goal. Aproximately 99.9 of those have come from the penalty spot. Way to pad the stat sheet Jamie. Soon after though Columbus scored a much more beautiful goal through new aquisition Joseph Ngwenya off a lovely ball from Sebastian Rozental who seemed to be the only player who played the full 90 with passion for Columbus.
In the second half the wheels came off for stand in keeper Dan Popik and the whole team. It's not entirely Popik's fault, but he can't be absolved of blame either. To absolve a keeper of blame after letting in 5 goals, just to make a point about the rest of the team is also missing the point that yes, we actually do need a keeper back there.
The bottom line is this. By midway through the second half Popik didn't believe in his defense. With good reason. They didn't really give him much to believe in. And the defense sure as hell didn't believe in Popik either. And they just quit. And it's embarassing, and it says a lot about the character of some guys on the team.
Like it or not if we bench Ezra and Lietch, we still got a enormous problem between the pipes. We need to somehow find a goalkeeper that wants to be here, that is hungry and that has something to prove. We need to find one that is able to inspire a defense, and also one that the defense believes in as well. Down 4-1 they turned around and saw a guy that didn't belong there. He doesn't. Period. And neither his performance or that of the defense cancels eachother out. We need a keeper who can put on a Crew jersey and know that it means something. We need a keeper who knows that he is more than just a stopgap, for his sake and for the sake of the whole team.
Before last night, the most saves Popik had in the past two years was double coupon day at Walmart. You can't win in MLS with that. It's not 1996 anymore.
The Crew is a good enough team to play with the best in this league. They showed that in the first half, and they showed it over the past month. But until they address the glaring whole in goal, it's just not gonna happen.
(thanks to the fine frustrated Crew fans at BigSoccer for the images.)