As Justin Meram fell to the ground in the Montreal penalty box on Saturday I can tell you from personal experience that the mood was high. Even with all recent memory pointing to the contrary, the Crew were about to get a fourth goal against the Eastern conference leaders just eight minutes into the second half. What followed was a heated argument between Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain as to who would take the subsequent penalty.
Both had their merits, Kamara was one goal away from his first career MLS hat trick while Higuain would break the Columbus record for career penalties. After several minutes though it began to get sour, and that was aside from Dider Drogba being his normal “polarizing” self. It seemed a bit of “crying over spilt milk” as the commentator noted. The penalty ended up being converted by Higuain though, so all’s well that ends well right? Wrong.
Five minutes later the score was 4-3 and things were getting tense at Mapfre Stadium. The tension on the field was palpable and in the end the Crew’s worst nightmare inevitably came true. Ex-Crew player Dominic Oduro thrust the knife in the Crew’s heart with his 93rd minute equalizer. One could certainly make an argument that a point against the best side in the East is an alright result, but a collapse of this caliber seemed to finally break the Crew.
Crew Manager, Gregg Berhalter, normally not one to get carried away, certainly felt the effect of the late goal. Berhalter had this to say on the match,
“I categorize that as an immature performance. We’re better than that and we didn’t show it after the 4-1. Way too easy to concede, particularly the second and the third goal…Collectively, we put ourselves in position to get three points and we didn’t. That is disappointing and we have to ask ourselves, okay, why didn’t we, what are the causes of that?…That was just it. Just stressing the immaturity of the whole thing. Again, to be up 4-1 at home, you should win the game, right? They know that, we know that.”
The word ‘immature’ is not one I imagine Gregg dropped without some thought. It may not have been my word of choice, but it certainly gets the point across. Not to be outdone by his manager though Kei Kamara shared his two cents on the 4-4 draw. The striker, who classified the loss in Seattle the week before as “nothing positive…nothing” did not pull any shots. He had this to say…
“I don’t depend on him [Higuain]. I depend on Ethan…on my outside backs to pass me balls…Do I have to tell him? The whole stadium sees it. Did you see it? (on whether he told Federico he was on a hat trick)…I Just don’t depend on him for assists or balls or nothing, just continue playing the same way I’ve been playing here…To me and to the relationship to believe in my (number 10), my playmaker, there is none. I never have to worry about it. PK goals? That’s great. Why did I lose the Golden Boot last year? How many PK goals did I score before Giovinco? That’s selfishness. That’s not a teammate.”
No love lost seems to be an understatement. The word petty may come to mind, but either way Kei’s opinion is not unclear. Not only does he comment on the ‘selfishness’, but apparently he has some harbored feelings about last years golden boot?
In what has certainly been a disappointing and unexpected start to this MLS campaign for the Crew this is disconcerting to say the least. A couple of wins can do a lot to assuage a negative dressing room, but it is a case of sooner than late in Columbus right now.