In the Eastern Conference semifinal Saturday night in Orlando, the Crew lived up to their original logo and slogan. They brought their hard hats and were most certainly the hardest working team in America in gutting out an extra time win over a team who had not lost at home since April.
A Dirty Goal
I’ve heard many refer to Christian Ramirez’s goal in extra time as ugly. I’m going to steal a hockey term and say it was a dirty goal. When there is a scramble around the crease in hockey and guys are crashing the net and trying to put the puck in any way they can, that’s a dirty goal. This is what Ramirez’s goal brought to mind. After Aidan Morris won a challenge for the ball, he sent a cross directly in front of the Orlando goal. In typical Ramirez fashion he crashed the net, got his right foot on the ball, and gave the Crew a lead in the 93rd minute.
After Ramirez put the Crew in front, there was still a lot of work to be done. With Orlando pressing forward, they created one prime scoring chance after another…and Patrick Schulte made one spectacular save after another. The last came on a diving header attempt just inside the six-yard-box when it looked like Orlando was certain to tie the match. Schulte reacted perfectly, shot out his right foot, and preserved the Crew’s tenuous lead. I’m going to steal another hockey term and say Schulte stood on his head in extra time.
A Different Sub Plot
When these two teams met back in September, Yehven Cheberko and Kevin Molino were two substitutes who were a big reason why Orlando was able to make a comeback from a two-goal deficit and get a late-game win. In a word, they were awful. Things were much different Saturday night when Wilfried Nancy inserted them at the end of the first extra time session. Cheberko easily handled any potential threats and Molino got involved in the offense, stayed out of trouble, and did not commit any stupid fouls. The much-maligned Molino even got the assist on Cucho’s game-clinching goal.
A Few Random Things
While we marvel at Schulte’s saves in extra time, let’s not forget the play made by Steven Moreira early in the game when he hustled back and snuffed out a near breakaway with a perfectly timed tackle. It took a perfect challenge in order to avoid creating a penalty kick for Orlando and a red card for himself.
Although his bad giveaway led to Schulte making the first of his spectacular saves in extra time, I thought Rudy Camacho was outstanding. He controlled the middle of the back end and cleared away numerous attempts.
Was this Diego Rossi’s best game since joining the club? He had five shots (two on target) and continually created chances for others. Hopefully this is the Rossi we’ll see against Cincinnati next week.
Aidan Morris and Darlington Nagbe showed just how good they are by getting the better of a team who has a very strong midfield. Mo Farsi continues to justify Nancy’s confidence in him.
The Crew is going to the Eastern Conference final against archrival Cincinnati. Hell is Real Part 3 is next. This is going to be fun. Saturday can’t get here soon enough.