Crew look to capture the big iguana

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

When preparing to play Dallas in Super Bowl X, way back in 1979, Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive lineman Ernie Holmes said this when asked about the game, "We're just here to play this competitive sport called football, to capture the big iguana.” Saturday, at Field, the Crew look to capture MLS’s big iguana when they take on LAFC. Here are a few observations about the 2023 MLS Cup final.

3rd in Supporter's Shield. 335. Apple TV, FOX, TSN. Cup final. . 4:00 PM. 8th in Supporter's Shield. 1330. 12/9/2023

Acting Like You’ve Been Here Before

If there is one area where LAFC has an advantage over the Crew, it is nearly their entire squad has been here before. They beat Philadelphia to capture the Cup last year and know exactly how to handle the pressure of playing in a game of this magnitude, deal with all of the hype and media attention, along with the usual distractions that come with the lead up to a championship game. The Crew has just three guys who have been here before. Aidan Morris, Josh Williams, and Darlington Nagbe, who is going after his fourth championship, were part of the club’s Cup winners in 2020. Those three have needed to show a lot of leadership this week in helping teammates prepare for all they are facing.

Stretching Them Out Of Shape

In the Western Conference final, Houston’s midfield had little success pulling LAFC’s defense out of shape. Consequently, they had few good scoring chances. But that’s against Houston. The Crew center midfield duo of Nagbe and Morris is the league’s best and will present a real challenge to LAFC. If those two are able to create holes in the LAFC defense, the Crew is going to be very hard to handle. LAFC is disciplined, experienced, well-coached, and they have not conceded a goal in the playoffs. But they haven’t faced a team that can create chances and score in as many ways as the Crew. LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo told the media the Crew’s style will be difficult to defend.

A Boxing Belief

The age-old boxing saying that styles make fights can certainly be used to describe this matchup. The Crew is going to look to possess the ball, pound away, and put their opponent back on its heels. LAFC is the counter puncher who wants to pounce on any Crew mistake and create scoring chances in transition. Wilfried Nancy’s team can’t be guilty of bad giveaways and must be ready to sprint back to snuff out LAFC’s counterattack-don’t let 20-goal scorer Denis Bouanga roam free.

Final Thoughts

Although I don’t think playing in front of a hostile crowd is going to bother a veteran bunch like LAFC, I still believe they are at a disadvantage. The Crew has been nothing short of excellent at home all season and is a much better scoring team when in the friendly confines of Field. Nancy has done a fabulous job of bringing his team along and now has them playing their best soccer. I think that will be enough to overcome any obstacles presented by LAFC.

Next. Ramirez. Every team needs a Christian Ramirez. dark

You’ll never be able to confuse me for a Steeler fan, but I’ve always loved that quote by Holmes. I managed to get a ticket to the game and hope to see our Crew capture the big iguana.