COLUMBUS – The Crew may have given away their secret weapon on corner kicks, but for a team desperate for a victory, Sebastian Miranda’s winner against FC Dallas on Saturday was worth the three points.
After coming close to scoring several times on corner kicks in the previous two matches with players running deep into the box, particularly centerback Josh Williams, manager Robert Warzycha pulled a reversal in practice prior to facing Dallas. The play was drawn as it unfolded in the 72nd minute with the score tied at 1-1.
All the attention was in and around the goal box, so Miranda dropped just outside of the penalty area and to the left of the arc. From the right corner Nemanja Vukovic lofted the ball to the unmarked Miranda for a sitting header that surprised everyone.
“That was perfect,” Warzycha said.
Of course, it took some help from the opposition to pull it off, and it should be noted that FCD was playing down a man.
“It was one simple assignment,” Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez said. “It was a great header, but the guy should have never been free.”
Warzycha was thrilled that the goal snapped a five-game winless streak (3-4-2, 11 points), but he understands that future opponents are on notice.
“Probably we’re going to take another hundred and it’s not going to work,” he said. “Some of the free kicks only work one time.”
At worst, the Miranda play could open up space for the players doing the grunt work in front of the goal on restarts.
FC Dallas took the lead in the 22nd minute of Saturday night’s match when Crew midfielder Tony Tchani stopped to signal that the ball was out of play in front of the Crew bench. The only problem was that it wasn’t and FCD’s Fabian Castillo spun around Tchani and went on to score with defender Eric Gehrig and others in hot pursuit.
“Everyone’s taught to play to the whistle, obviously,” Gehrig said. “I was happy we were able to get that goal back. Credit to Tony. He played an amazing second half. It’s hard not to get down after a play like that.”
Warzycha said Tchani made a “mistake.” but the coach might have been an accessory. The video shows Warzycha starting to raise his arm and looking to the assistant referee a moment before Tchani as the ball almost crosses the line.
Justin Meram’s equalizing strike in the 67th minute was the Crew’s first goal in three games, and it gave the team a huge lift.
“It was pure elation,” Gehrig said. “We’ve been defending well. It’s hard defending so much and not getting goals.”