It took Columbus all of three minutes to get on the board against New York and regain the swagger they had played with for seven matches in 21 days back in August.
And then Thierry Henry put an end to it all.
Henry answered with an equalizer six minutes after Milovan Mirosevic opened the scoring for Columbus. The French DP forward got in behind Chad Marshall, trapped a long, lofted pass, and poked it past Andy Gruenebaum for the score. Henry would eventually seal the deal in stoppage time with a corner kick that needed no assistance from any other player on the field to find its way into the back of the net. About 15 minutes before that New York had taken the lead 2-1 off a corner kick goal that resulted in Gruenebaum smashing his face into the post and having to be substituted as a precaution.
It was a night where, aside from Milo’s goal, very little seemed to go right for Columbus and we saw their flaws truly exposed. In years past, a solid back line has been the foundation for success in Columbus. Now it seems even Chad Marshall is having his struggles and all is not well in defense for Columbus. Henry easily got inside the head of Julius James last night. James continues to disappoint and I wonder how long it will take for someone like Danny O’Rourke or even Eric Gehrig to take his spot. If Columbus are to make a run to the playoffs, the back line needs to be fixed ASAP.
And then there was the noticeable absence of Federico Higuain. The team has said he was kept out of the starting lineup due to an injection in his toe. While they didn’t look nearly as threatening without him, Columbus still created enough chances to keep former Crew goalkeeper Bill Gaudette active all night against his former team. Eddie Gaven continues to be the man everyone will look to in Higuain’s absence. Justin Meram created several chances out of nothing with his dribbling skills off the bench. He replaced a very unhappy Dilly Duka who never quite got into the flow of things.
While the loss drops Columbus two points behind DC United (and only four behind Houston for fourth place) for the last playoff spot in the East, there are still plenty of opportunities to catch up. Although it’s a short turnaround, the Crew can look forward to welcoming a dreadful Chivas USA side into Crew Stadium on Wednesday night and next Saturday brings a trip to Chicago. The Crew also have matches against Eastern Conference foes Philadelphia, Kansas City, and DC United remaining on the schedule.
Saturday’s loss was bad, but all is not lost just yet. A win on Wednesday night against Chivas is very possible and as we saw in August all it takes is one little spark to get things going.