COLUMBUS, Ohio – Given the Crew were winless in the first seven games of 2009 season and then went unbeaten for the opening eight matches of 2010, it makes sense they're finally somewhere in the middle.
Still, a 1-1-1 record doesn’t reveal a whole lot about the direction Columbus are headed this season after making numerous offseason moves.
The new Crew looked disjointed and unsettled in an opening 3-1 loss at D.C. United but then squeezed a point from an unimpressive scoreless tie at home the against a New York team missing six starters.
And it was hard to get a good read on the club's 2-0 win over FC Dallas last Friday night, because the 2-0 victory was tempered at least a bit by FCD playing down a man for 57 minutes.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
That it took an Andres Mendoza penalty kick in the 54th minute and Eddie Gaven’s score in stoppage time (the team's first from the run of play in 2011) on a counterattack against a tired team is indicative of the work still needed.
[inline_node:332681]“A win is a win,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “Defensively we played a pretty solid game against a very good team.”
A second straight shutout and seven saves for William Hesmer shows that a back line with three new players is starting to mesh, but again, the circumstances the past two games dictated that the Crew received only cursory pressure.
Interestingly, Dallas had three shots on goal in the minute following the ejection of Jackson for a second caution but only five shots (three on goal) over the final 55.
“We were solid,” Crew defender Chad Marshall said. “They’re a dangerous team, a lot of quick guys who like to interchange. We kept them in front of us and limited their chances.”
The Crew attack, meanwhile, didn’t exactly break down the short-handed visitors. They averaged a shot every 6.6 minutes before getting the man advantage and 5.25 over the next 20 until Mendoza’s score from the spot.
Over the last 35 they took a shot every five minutes (three on target), a stat aided by three shots starting with the 90th minute. The only number that mattered, though? The three points at the end of the match.
“I don’t want to call it a must-win because it’s only the third game of a 34-game season, but it feels good,” Marshall said. “That’s what we wanted.”
First-year defender Sebastian Miranda was at right back for the opening game, and then switched sides with rookie defender Rich Balchan again New York. They went back to the original plan against FC Dallas to get Miranda more involved offensively.
“Miranda has played right back his whole career,” Marshall said. “That’s where he’s most comfortable. He’s got a good right foot. He’s got the wheels to put up some good crosses. Being on the left, didn’t happen as much.”
The Crew play at Chivas USA (0-2-1) on Saturday in the first meeting against their new head coach Robin Fraser, a former Crew defender. They have lost five straight to the Goats at The Home Depot Center.