By John Blakely
149. That’s how many days it had been since supporters of the Black and Gold were able to yell, cheer, and generally go bonkers for their Columbus Crew.
Theoretically that would have changed yesterday, as the Crew hosted the NY Red Bulls in their home opener. The crew that took the field for the Crew wasn’t your Mother’s Crew, in fact only 5 of 11 starters were on the pitch 149 days ago when last Crew Stadium hosted meaningful play.
Unfortunately it was out with old, in with cold… As in cold weather (game time temp was below freezing) and cold play (not the band fronted by Chris Martin (Husband of Gwyneth Paltrow, Son-In-Law to Blythe Danner), but rather putrid soccer).
Columbus came into the game as the favorites because five Red Bulls’ starters stayed back in the tri-state area to help America earn a surprising draw against Argentina (and another two (including Thierry Henry) were sidelined due to injury), conversely the Crew had 3 players in the line-up that were passed over for that friendly. Unfortunately it was obvious why the home team didn’t have any players called up; lack of heart.
The Crew controlled the game from the outset, they constantly had the Red Bulls playing defense and had prime scoring opportunities at the 39′ and 76′. The new look team failed to convert on those opportunities and failed to win over most of the crowd, who grew tired of missed opportunities and longed for former Crew legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
The Red Bulls young goal keeper Alex Horwath, who was signed the day before and was making his first start , deserves some credit for playing aggressively and challenging Crew attackers. It was a challenge that no one seemed willing or able to meet, a tendency that could make this a long and painful season for Crew supporters.
Columbus will face another stiff challenge in it’s next game, when it hosts defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas on April Fool’s day. If the Crew play with the same malaise and complacency that they did yesterday the fools will be anyone who thinks this season will end with a playoff run.
Solange Knowles, younger sister of Beyonce, and Lil’ Wayne were not spotted canoodling in a VIP box at the game.
New Look Crew at Home
Undermanned Red Bulls Save Draw
The Score, Nil to Nil