Okay. So I've been a terribly absentee blogger. But I have been working. There is more coming. At present, the home base is empty, my tickets for the evening have been spoken for, so I am gonna get kinda tipsy. I am gettin' stuck in. Your hero has returned. I will delay no further.
Here we go with the...
CREW: Hesmer, Francis, Iro, Marshall, Hejduk, Ekpo, Carroll, O'Rourke, Renteria, Schelotto, Garey
UNION: Seitz, Arrieta, Califf, Orozco Fiscal, Mapp, Coudet, Miglioranzi, Fred, Moreno, Le Toux
1' Early dive from Fred off the light contact of Hejduk. US Soccer Jesus is a rough lookin' 36.
2' And a two footer from Fred. He's ready for the “national” spotlight. I recently read an article at http://www.epltalk.com which unfavorably compared the viewing statistics of the MLS with those of the WNBA. I have enough pride to believe that this is untrue, facts and figures be damned.
Sons of Ben sound loud as sheeyit.
Columbus sitting way back.
4' Le Toux gets away with a knee to Hejduk's bread basket behind the referee's vision. That's the typical sneakiness I expect from the French.
5' Moreno's cross is too long but tracked down after Francis' fumble.
6' Coudet's cross leads to some real dark arts as Moreno and Fred are both fouled, but Marshall remains on the ground and gets a whistle. The official seems as clueless as myself at the moment.
7' Gorgeous shot of the sun rays filtered through the industrial smog over the river. The Delaware River and the bridge framing the stadium are nice, but I would really love to see that camera elevate about one hundred feet and rotate ninety degrees to the left.
10' Mapp's through ball for Le Toux is just a smidge too late and our favorite Frenchman is whistled for offside.
11' Califf goes across the field for Harvey with a lovely switch. Nothing comes of it, of course, but Califf is in the building tonight. He will later disappear when we need him most, so this is worth noting.
BUD LIGHT IT'S THE SURE SIGN OF A GOOD TIME
12' Carroll gets a nip at Fred's heel and a mere warning for his trouble.
14' Union with some slick buildup play down the right hand side, but fizzles out with Le Toux. On the change of possession, Miglioranzi intercepts 40 yards from goal and forces Hesmer into a sloppy corner.
15' On the second try, a foul is called on a shaken up Califf who appears to have broken his fall with his rib cage.
Le Toux has been ineffective thus far. Hmmmm.
18' Fred's insouciance leads to a needless turnover. Columbus control the next thirty-plus seconds before Fred body checks Hejduk over the touchline.
19' Coudet with a tidy tackle to send the Union the right way.
20' Mapp creates a few yards of space, but his cross is easily scooped up by Hesmer.
20' Union doing very well to get numbers on the ball in the defensive end. They get a chance to counter, leading to some quick interplay from Moreno and Le Toux, which almost opens up for Alejandro's first goal before Marshall's perfect challenge clears.
21' Mapp has a rip from thirty yards that is about two yards over the net.
The 20:10 signage display actually looks okay. Clearly my screaming at everybody over three midfield sections rang through last week.
23' Tight control from Le Toux at the top of the box sets up Fred for another blocked shot attempt. Harvey turns it over to Renteria, who shucks off a posse of Union players before smartly keeping it on his side.
25' Sweet aerial, diagonal ball from Moreno for Harvey who can't overcome the defense.
27' A foul off the ball leads to a Union free kick in a dangerous position.
SUBSITUTION (And a slightly bizarre one) Garey OFF, Lenhart ON...Lenhart had to plead with Garey to get him off the field.
28' Union execute a lot of rehearsed business, including Fred trying to move the wall himself, but Le Toux's driven effort is denied by a Columbus head.
Coudet, Fred, and Moreno all turning on the skillz tonight.
30' Mapp backheels to Le Toux, but his ensuing cross is too strong.
I don't know what a Chelada is but I want one.
31' Fred covers thirty yards on his own before he is abruptly relieved of the ball and slammed on his face in the process.
32' Seitz makes an excellent save from a HEAVY Columbus shot off the foot of Renteria.
I just saw the one girl in the Columbus traveling contingent. Poor show, lads. (I would later see a few more. They were equally unimpressive in different ways.)
33' Off the corner, Ekpo unleashes an aimless shot and the River Ends erupts in laughter.
34' Mapp feeling very confident, again unleashes from distance after several touches on his own. Hesmer dives to save it, and is able to wrap it up with both arms.
35' Califf chops through the back of Lenhart, and acts shocked at the whistle. Clever.
36' Seitz' heads-up long ball from the free kick sets up the Union for more controlled attacking possession.
38' Califf does a great job to defend the cross in the box, using positioning and leverage to force the goal kick. (This trend WILL NOT continue).
YELLOW CARD for Columbus' Carroll for a bad tackle from behind on Mapp.
39' Le Toux strikes from a forty yard dead ball and only misses by a few yards. More rotation and the Union is in business.
Miglioranzi is down, Columbus kick the ball out.
SUBSTUTION: Miglioranzi OFF, Nakazawa IN
That's an even exchange. Miglioranzi has been playing a fairly anonymous game.
YELLOW CARD for Fred. Silly play by the veteran.
43' And the Union are made to pay for Fred's mistake. What a horrendous turn of events. Complete disaster. Lenhart nods home Schelotto's delicious delivery, leaving a fairly useless-defensively Jordan Harvey in the dust.
Seitz' clean sheet is once again tarnished, as has always been and shall likely remain the case for the Union's short history.
46' Mapp is shoved off the ball, and the Union get a chance to level the score at the end of the first half. Nakazawa's intelligent delivery leads to a YELLOW CARD for dumbass Frankie Hejduk and a penalty awarded to and to be taken by the Union's talisman, Sebastien Le Toux. Sight unseen, I can assure you that SeaBass will deliver, as has been his wont.
47' Of course I am right.
47' OF COURSE I AM RIGHT. Le Toux poses for the River End in style with Orozco Fiscal by his side. And here comes the DOOP. Sheer elation from the Sons of Ben. The penalty may not have been entirely just, but the scoreline is.
HALF TIME, 1-1
That is my favorite time of the first half to score, and the Union have only ever given up goals towards the end of the opening session. It feels damn good to do so, I must say. Union get even more liveliness and Columbus get something to bitch about for the next fifteen minutes.
Garey apparently out with a stomach illness. What a pussy.
46' Fred is welcomed to the second half with some severe whiplash after colliding with a few Columbus defenders. He rubs his neck as Coudet and Nakazawa consult over the long free kick, which is eventually blocked away.
49' Renteria uses Harvey's draft as an excuse to tumble forward like a gymnast. Give me a break. Fattest MLS player I have seen yet, and I have been watching Alejandro Moreno all season.
50' Schelotto's beautiful long ball finds Renteria, whose cross is once again nodded home by Lenhart, who runs across Califf's body and heads home past Seitz for another crappy GOAL. 2-1, Columbus.
53' Lenhart is whistled for offside while burying his bid for a hat trick into Seitz' waiting sternum.
54' Moreno's pull back is off the mark, but the ball bounces to Nakazawa who takes a touch before firing wide.
Columbus look quite prepared to milk this lead for the last 35-40 minutes. So that's disappointing.
57' A whole lot of business before a lousy Columbus corner routine, culminating with a Frankie Hejduk shot so ugly only LeBron's mother could love him.
59' Le Toux goes to ground early in the box again, but he does not get the benefit of the doubt.
60' Nakazawa steps up to deliver another Union free kick. I accept his free kick authority because his name is Japanese, a culture which I associate with technical precision. That is not racist.
62' Moreno feels a bit of pressure so he helps himself to the grass, earning a free kick but losing a bit of pride.
62' Arrieta cleans Renteria's clock with a comprehensive challenge. The kind I most like to see. Take all of the ball then all of the ankles.
Schelotto has an earful for the flag bearer/linesman. He should be more respectful of that person I refuse to name.
64' Mapp creates, and creates, and creates yet again, before his cross is headed into the perforated ozone above PPL Park and out for a goal kick.
WTF IS THAT CALL.
65' Renteria kicks out at Fred's heels, tweaks his groin and lower back, and yet, somehow, Columbus free kick.
66' Shout-out from JP for the Sons of Ben and even more for the traveling Crew support. Good for them. I only hate New York and D.C. fans, because they don't have to travel so far. If you spent a significant amount of time or money to come to PPL Park, then I am glad to have you. I will curse at you, and sing songs to denigrate you, but I will defend any traveling support from physical danger *DC AND NJRB EXCLUDED, DUH.
68' I saw Califf get away with a kick to the back of the thigh. Good stuff.
69' Marshall just big boy'd Le Toux, failing to post Marshall up, and taking the ball before the man.
73' Le Toux finally nudges the ball into the final third, but loses it at the end line. Moreno can't get on the end of long ball, and Iro goes to ground under no pressure. (This game sucks).
SUBSTITUTION: Renteria OFF, Oughton ON
75' Mapp does well to get a corner off the crisp pass from Moreno. A phantom call leads to a second Union corner kick, but it's worse than the first and Columbus regain possession.
Andrew Jacobson appears ready to join the party. I think it will be for Miglioranzi.
SUBSTITUTION: Fred, OFF, Jacobson, ON
Good change, Fred has all but disappeared in the second half.
78' Le Toux's weak free kick effort fails to clear Schelotto's head, and he is very short. This is the shame.
79' Coudet's Tackle of the Match candidate earns him back the ball and puts the Union back on the front foot. Subsequently, a foul called by the linesman as Le Toux catches a face-full of Francis' forearm.
A glance to the bench sees Mwanga still in his track top and Miglioranzi fresh from the showers in a Union sport jacket.
80' The quality of Nakazawa's dangerous effort from a wide dead ball is unmatched by any of his teammates' efforts to get on the end of it.
82' Le Toux attempts a cheeky drag to himself, which is promptly gobbled up by an eager Hesmer.
SUBSTITUTION: Mapp OFF, McInerney ON
Did Nowak give the birthday boy enough time to get himself a proper gift? I am thinking not. But I am raised on the local despair of Philadelphia sports, and not the global optimism of soccer.
84' A big sloppy mess here between Jacobson, Le Toux, and McInerney incredibly does not end with a big DOOP. What a clusterwhut.
86' When Moreno is tracking down defenders, can I call him a “Chubby Chaser?” I mean, that's a lot of Venezuelan beef.
87' Le Toux cuts it inside for Moreno, who does not have the range to reach the ball. The free range.
IT HAS SLIPPED AWAY. I watched enough Liverpool matches last season to recognize days or nights when my club simply does not have it.
88' Remember earlier, when Seitz brilliantly distributed and opened up our attack? He just booted it out of bounds, to the center line. Yikes. Again, we are undone by silly mental lapses.
91' Moreno earns a free kick between the box and the touchline. Nakazawa's delivery is cleared as far as Harvey, who fires for glory and finds himself with nothing.
94' If not for Fred's lazy foul, this could be a tie game. But here we are, twenty seconds from the end of stoppage time...and...
Columbus 2, Union 1
There is naught left to say at the moment. Our Achilles heel, stupidity, is visible to any team with the patience and quality to exploit it. Until these moments of selfish stupidity are a thing of the past, we can all go ahead and spend the money saved for playoff tickets.