Egos and Issues Come to Boiling Point in Columbus

2016 has been a bumpy ride.

We started the season with optimism, hope, excitement and all the related synonyms. Columbus Crew SC had finished the season as the runner-up for the Cup, second place but still first place in our hearts. The season began a little rocky but we were all hoping it was a fluke. I thought, “we have most of the team back, they just need a new rhythm.”

A three-game road trip only produced two points, then they came back home and seemed adjusted and ready to cruise through the rest of the season. They then traveled to Seattle and looked like a shell of the team from last year, losing on a late goal from Jordan Morris. Then the match against Montreal happened this past weekend.

I had heard rumblings of issues in practice over the week after Seattle, but I never thought we would see it come to such a point on the field.

The first half felt good. The guys seemed excited during warm-ups, greeted the Nordecke like normal and the game started with a quick pace. A rewind to 2015, this is what happened the last time Drogba and Montreal visited. Needless to say, no one forgot that leg grab and he’s not a fan favorite.

Kei Kamara kicked off the scoring in the 15th minute with a header into the back of the net off a Justin Meram cross. The passing was good and Steve Clark was having quite the game, which he finished with a career-high eight saves. The Montreal goal was off of a Drogba pass to Piatti in the box to beat Clark. Kamara put home a goal in the final minutes of extra time of the first half to go up 2-1 at half. 

The second half started with a ball to the feet of Federico Higuain into the back of the net in the 48th minute.  What felt like seconds after, Meram was tripped in the Impact box and Columbus were awarded a PK. This is when things got weird. Granted, I didn’t have the best angle as I was in the Nordecke section furthest to the middle of the field and almost even with the PK spot, only about four rows up, but regardless you could cut the tension with a knife. As much as I could put in words, the best way to understand what happened is to see it on video

I couldn’t believe my eyes, were these two leaders of the squad really arguing over this? And why did Parkhurst wait so long to intervene? Then from there, egos came out even more and costed Columbus the three points they should have easily gotten after being up 4-1 after Higuain took and scored the PK.

But Kamara wasn’t trying afterwards, and it was obvious the argument just brought the whole team down a level. Selfishness and egos were on display so Montreal took full advantage. They earned a PK in the 57th minute and Drogba scored, then one minute later Piatti scored his second to make is 4-3. CCSC did have more of the possession through the end of the second half but mustered solo shots when teammates were open showing that they were just not clicking as a team. I had a bad feeling when Montreal got a throw-in and a CCSC sub was made, and it led to former Crew player, Dominic Oduro, scoring the game-tying goal.

The 4-4 finish felt like a massive loss both on the scoreboard and as a team, especially after being up 4-1. To rub salt into the wound, Kamara had select words about the situation after the match igniting flashbacks of his behavior in the past.

“You have two goals, you’re going for a hat trick, a player that’s never scored a hat trick in their career. What do you do? Do you give it to him or do you take it,” Kamara said in postgame.

Statements were made referring to a conversation about having Ethan Finlay take the penalty, and he declined. Kamara also alluded to the fact that Higuain taking all the PK’s last season lost him the Golden Boot award. Then exacerbating things more, talked about how he doesn’t have to depend on Pipa to score goals. The link to that conversation is here.

The words said were ill-advised. At that point, leave the conversation on the field and in the locker room, don’t publicly blast a teammate. I learned that in high school soccer.

Afterwards, Berhalter took full responsibility for the incident stating in postgame, “We have two players who are designated to take penalty kicks, and it’s on me for not qualifying which one takes it in this game. I’ll take full responsibility for that … Rest assured it’s not going to happen again.”

These guys are the pros and the passion needs to be channeled into winning on the pitch. Egos need to be put aside as Columbus Crew face the number one team from the West on Saturday, the Colorado Rapids, at 7:30 p.m. Crew SC have a 2-4-3 record and are 9th in the East, a far fall from 2015.

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