The Crew have struggled to find offense in 2013. Did they find the turnaround they needed on Saturday?
By ANDREW KING FS Ohio
For much of the 2013 season, the Columbus Crew have struggled to find goals. Playmaker and Designated Player Federico Higuain has done his share of creating and scoring, but others have been less-likely to step into the role of scorer. Even Dominic Oduro, after a bright start to the season, went on a scoring drought for much of the summer.
At halftime of Saturday's match against the
Montreal Impact, many expected the game to finish like so many have for the Crew this season: Columbus gives up an early goal, and cannot rebound to find the points they so desperately need.
But just after the half, veteran defender Chad Marshall rose above the Montreal defense on a Federico Higuain free kick and powered a header past keeper Troy Perkins. The goal was the first of the season for Marshall, and came at an important time in the Crew's late-season playoff push.
“It felt big at the time,” he said at Crew training Tuesday. “We kind of all got together and celebrated at the top of the 18, and it felt like guys were fired up. I was glad to get that, and it seemed like a pivotal point in the game where the momentum really changed for us.”
The goal did change momentum, and Columbus found a winner from Dominic Oduro, who said that Marshall's goal was the turning point.
“I told him after the game, his goal really pumped me up,” Oduro said. “We were doing the right things...and his goal came as a relief, telling us we were doing the right thing. It was something that started the team going.”
For Marshall, whose aerial prowess has long been an asset for the Crew, the goal came after an extended scoring drought that had seen several opportunities narrowly missed, and others dramatically saved.
“He's been so close all year, just over the post or just wide or cleared off the line,” Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss said. “So he's been overdue, and the timing of it couldn't have been better.”
While Marshall is glad to have the goal, he says he hopes the success from set pieces continues, after a year in which set piece goals have been more scarce than expected.
“I can't explain why [the goals haven't come]. I wish I could have figured it out. I don't know what it is,” he said. “We definitely work hard and make good runs, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. [Defender Josh Williams] had three in the first few games of the year, but we haven't had many since then. So hopefully they come in bunches.”
The game-winner was the first goal for Oduro since July 27, and Bliss said that he hopes the goal will give him the confidence that he had early in the season.
“Dominic's had opportunities, he just hasn't been able to convert them,” Bliss said. “He's always dangerous. To build his confidence up that he can score a goal is good for him.”
Oduro said that the confidence was exactly what he needs as he tries to rebound from a summer in which he may have missed opportunities to get on the scoresheet, and that the goal, his tenth of the season, was a relief.
“It was nice to take that load off of me,” he said. “Let's face it, I had chances in the games against New York, Toronto, Houston, I had all of those chances. The goalies just made saves, guys kicked it away from the line... it's not like I wasn't getting chances, it just wasn't getting in the net.”