How to Win Games and Alienate Fans
By Casey Ward
1. Consign anyone capable of retaining the ball to the bench.
While Gino Padula, Brian Carroll and Adam Moffatt were busy assisting the Chivas USA offense with sluggish movements on and off the ball, careless passes and awkward touches, Jed Zayner, Emmanuel Ekpo, and Emilio Renteria watched from the sideline. Though my wish to see all of these players on the pitch at the same time is fanciful, it does not seem too much to ask for one to make the starting eleven. Of the three, only Ekpo saw playing time and then only in the dying moments of the game. It should be noted that Ekpo never lost possession during his ten minutes on the field and earned the free-kick that led to the penalty.
2. Allow the opposition to dictate everything about the game.
Although the Golden Boy owns a share of the Houston Dynamo, Oscar De La Hoya has more in common with Chivas USA; both lose
Photo from fOTOGLIF
beautifully. Although the road loss will sting the Goats, they should feel heartened that their stubbornly horizontal game, which keeps the ball on the sod, was easy on the eyes. Sacha Kljestan, a player I have been scrutinizing since his international hat-trick, has been in fine form the past month. He orchestrates his team’s offense with slick one-touch passing and inspiring vision. Last Saturday’s game proved why he has again been called into camp.
3. Practice penalty kicks at the expense of link-up play.
Only eight goals in six games, two of which were converted penalty kicks, have less to do with inaccurate strikers than wasteful midfield play. Because the ball rarely comes to the feet of Crew central midfielders, Steven Lenhart is tasked with chesting or heading down long balls from the back, an unenviable task especially when defenses have been shown video of the approach.
4. Employ two goalkeepers.
Gino Padula, who endured one of his worst nights in a Crew jersey, still managed two goal-line clearances, saving the team from embarrassment. In the 58th minute, Padula swept away a Jonathan Bornstein shot with his right foot, then headed a Blair Gavin effort away moments later.
5. Pray for mental blunders and an observant referee.
Had the referee not seen Justin Braun’s bear-hug of Chad Marshall in the penalty box in the 90th minute, would the Crew players and coaches still be impressed with themselves? Had he not called for a penalty when most referees would have dismissed Crew players’ pleas, would they still be so unapologetic about their 2010 performances? Had Schelotto not converted the penalty kick, how many more seats would be empty at the next match?
Casey Ward is an unabashed fan of Major League Soccer. He has a BA from Michigan State University and an MFA from Ohio State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org