We are massive.
The Columbus Crew have officially shown the world that winning the 2008 MLS Cup wasn't a fluke. The Crew traveled to San Jose to play the Earthquakes in the early half of a day/night doubleheader that also featured CD Guadalajara and FC Barcelona.
After a first half which was at times painful to watch, Columbus coach Robert Warzycha decided it was time to change things up. A 60th minute switch of Alejandro Moreno for Jason Garey followed by Emmanuel Ekpo for Eddie Gaven in the 63rd proved to be just the shot in the arm that the team needed.
Moreno opened the floodgates in the 69th when Ekpo swung the ball in to Robbie Rogers, who then headed it to Moreno for the goal. It was a perfect example of patient soccer, as the good guys just waited for an opening and then took the shot.
Robbie and Ale Mo both showed great presence as they played off each other, with Alejandro stuck between two defenders and just waiting for the ball. It was truly a "smart" goal.
Rogers got his first goal of the year just four minutes later after taking a through ball from Ekpo. Robbie received the ball in the corner of the penalty area, juked two defenders, dribbled one more time and then hammered it home with his left to give Columbus the two goal lead.
Robbie really showed his speed and skill on this one, doing all the work himself and manufacturing a goal where there shouldn't have been one. If the 2009 Columbus Crew could be summed with one goal, it would be this one, simply because Robbie played tough and never gave up until the ball was in the net. God, I love that kid.
Coach "Polska Bob" Warzycha hadn't seen enough, though. An 84th minute sub of Adam Moffat for Steven Lenhart was, maybe, his best coaching decision of the game. It was in the 86th minute that Gino Padula took a corner and Adam Moffat put the ball in the net with authority for his first goal of the year and only the third of his injury-plagued MLS career.
There have been some people this season who've said that Moffat isn't worth the trouble because of all of his injuries. I know it's only one goal in one game, but I think they can all shut up now, as long as Adam continues to play like he has the last couple of games.
Coach Bob knows this, and therefore putting Adam in was a stroke of genius.
After the game Coach Warczycha and the players agreed that the game was a lot closer than the scoreline indicated. I would tend to concur here, as San Jose had plenty of chances and gave us all a few scares, but were unable to convert on any of them.
The entire game was a simple case of one club waiting for goals to come to them and the other club making the goals happen. That's how championship-caliber teams perform week in and week out: they make things happen.
And that's why Columbus is proving that they actually are a championship team. Columbus has had five shut-outs in its last ten games, winning four in a row and going undefeated in its last seven, and has not allowed a goal on the road in three straight games.
Seattle may claim to have the best fans in the league, but the Crew is the best team.
Columbus faces some interesting challenges as it enters the CONCACAF Champions League, with 11 games over the next eight weeks, but they are proving that depth may not be quite as big as issue as we thought earlier in the year. The Bash Brothers are coming into their own, Alejandro and Adam are healthy again, Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schelotto are working hard to get back from their injuries, and everyone else on the team is competing hard every day for a starting spot.
There really isn't a guy on our senior roster that can't come in and positively impact a game.
The only thing that may cause problems are national team call-ups but we've proven all summer long that we can put any 11 of our guys on the field and still win games.
All in all, this game may have not been the prettiest to watch, but it served to put the league on notice that the road to the Cup this year most certainly will go through Columbus.
[IMG via Center Line Soccer]
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