Like I’m sure many other Crew fans are doing, I’m still reeling from the way things played out Saturday night, so let’s get right to it. Here are 5 things about the draw with Atlanta United.
I can think of just one word to describe this draw: frustration. The Crew did everything needed to get their second consecutive road win. Although possession was fairly even, the Crew controlled the game. They had more and better scoring chances and outshot The Five Stripes 22-10. They kept them back on their heels and forced twelve corner kicks. On defense, the Crew limited the amount and quality of opportunities by one of the league’s most dangerous scoring duos-Thiago Almada and Georgios Giakoumakis. They kept in check the league’s second-highest goal-scoring team. Even Yevhen Cheberko, who has struggled since joining the club and was awful in his last appearance against Orlando, started the game and turned in a solid performance. The Crew did everything needed to get a win…until the very waning moments of stoppage time. It all unraveled when a stupid, needless foul was committed that led to a yet another poorly defended set piece. Frustration. Mind-numbing frustration.
Another set piece snafu
Everything seemed well-organized and under control. When you looked in front of the Crew goal, each Atlanta player appeared to be covered in anticipation of their free kick late in stoppage time. Once the ball was put into the air, that all changed. An unmarked Miles Robinson rose above everyone and deposited Thiago Almada’s perfect pass into the net to give Atlanta a tie they did not deserve. Speaking after the game, Julian Gressel said Robinson was wide open due to a miscommunication between himself and Aidan Morris. Two of the last three goals given up by the Crew have come on set pieces.
Woes on O continue
It isn’t the attack itself. The numbers show the Crew is creating plenty of opportunities to score. Shot totals of 22, 14, and 23 in their last three games are proof. They aren’t just firing away from wherever on the field, they are getting quality chances, but have been victimized by some quality goalkeeping and the ball not bouncing their way at times-call it soccer luck. It was more of the same Saturday night when Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan was forced to make five very good saves. The only thing the Crew can do is keep attacking and firing away.
Let me be very blunt. I don’t want to see Kevin Molino on the field again this season. His foul late in stoppage time against Orlando led to a set piece that became the winning goal for the Lions. Saturday night, once again very late in stoppage time, he committed a needless foul against a player who was moving away from the goal. We all know what happened on the ensuing free kick. Although it is obvious he can’t be trusted in late-game situations, head coach Wilfried Nancy said he still has confidence in Molino. Judging from what I saw on social media, I can tell you Crew fans do not.
Shining between the posts
I thought Patrick Schulte continued the outstanding play that began against New England. Once again, he was confident, decisive, and aggressive. Diving on a dangerous loose ball, effectively organizing set pieces, taking control of the back end of an improved Crew defense. He’s showing off an ever-growing, well-rounded game. His most impressive sequence of the night against Atlanta was when he came out to punch a ball away and then almost immediately had to make a save on a shot that came through traffic. Schulte is giving the kind of performance needed for the Crew to make a deep playoff run.
The draw means the fourth-place Crew will finish no better than third, but no worse than fifth in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, it also means they still do not control their own fate for gaining home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. New England sits just two points behind them and has two games yet to play, while the Crew has just one.