Well wasn't that ugly?
For those of you who TIVO'd the Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew last night, a warning:
STOP! For the love of God, don't try and watch this match. Don't even risk trying to erase it. I recommend that you yank the box out of the wall, go out back and burn it.
After Seattle and Houston showed everyone how exciting and memorable a 0-0 soccer game can be last Thursday, the Crew and the Royals offered a demonstration of how depressingly awful one can be.
(Yes, Real scored two minutes from time. The goal at the end didn't improve the previous 88 minutes. It's the principle. Or something. Work with me here.)
Anyway, here is the match, in it's entirety:
After 88 minutes of lock down defense behind an attack that consisted entirely of launching 70 yard bombs to Big Bird, when the key moment came Frankie Hejduk didn't do much to contest the cross, Eric Brunner didn't bother to stay with the best hitter on the field and William Hesmer committed the cardinal sin of giving up the near post.
The mystery of course is why, exactly, Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha elected to start his so-called "Luchadores" front line while the best soccer player in the building and arguably in the league sat on the bench looking like he wished he could start a fire to keep warm, possibly using Warzycha as kindling.
What do you suppose he is saving the guy for? Yes he wisely gave Schelotto a lot of games off over the summer, in order to keep him healthy and fresh for the playoffs, with the understanding that when the playoffs actually came he would be out there pumping some life into your suddenly flatlining offense.
Yet there we were, and there he wasn't.
Well here's a bulletin, Bob: if your team, which has only scored one lousy goal in its' previous five league games (and that was a 45 yard fluky bouncer from the left back), doesn't score at least TWO goals on Thursday, your superstar Argie is going to have a lot of rest.
Roughly five months worth.
On the other side, Royals coach Jason Kreis' 65th minute insertion of Randers-bound Yura Movsisyan changed the complexion of the game and seemed to demand a response from Warzycha, but Schelotto and veteran forward Alejandro Moreno sat rooted to the bench.
Particularly over the last ten minutes, with RSL owning the ball and throwing numbers forward, what the Massive Bananas needed was someone to control the ball a bit, slow down the pace and kill some clock.
What Warzycha gave them was journeyman Jason Garey.
At that point the almost forgotten early season mantra of WWSD began to pop back into your head:
What would Sigi do?
Robbie Finley found himself smothered in yellow shirts for 88 minutes but still managed to look dangerous. His work rate and surprising toughness really ought to be enough to get him a runout with the National side.
The most disappointing thing about this game is that these two teams usually play a wide open, attacking, attractive brand of soccer with shots flying in from everywhere, and this match had the potential to be one of the more entertaining matchups of the playoffs.
Instead, it was a plodding hackfest from beginning to end as each team had just two shots on goal and 2 corner kicks apiece while combining for 26 fouls.
MLS should give Kevin Payne his money back.