Play by Play Plus: No time to dwell

Columbus loss was tough but time to focus on extinguishing Fire

We can discuss whether or not the goal by Milovan Mirosevic on Saturday, was offside or not, but the fact remains that his goal in the 87th minute ended up as the game winning goal, and a goal that officially ended the Union's very slim hopes to remain alive in the MLS Cup playoff race.

 

Watch: Mirosevic gamewinner

 

It was a night in which character was displayed. The team fought hard in coming back from a two goal deficit on the road; however as we all saw, the comeback would fall just short.  Surely, the way the team played in Columbus, they deserved better – but we've been saying that all season.

 

You can't expect to get good results in this league when you relax even for a second, or in the case of Saturday night, resting for a few minutes.

 

All square minutes before halftime, the Union surrendered two goals to a desperate Columbus Crew side who were fighting for their own playoff lives. You can say the goals allowed were good goals by the Crew, but you would get an argument from those close to the team. You can't allow a goal in the 45th minute, let alone two. 

 

Taking two plays off in the waning minutes of the half led to two goals by Jairo Arrieta and what looked like an insurmountable lead.

 

Things took a turn to the positive in the second half for the Union, and it began with the insertion of Antoine Hoppenot to the game. Hoppenot brings fresh legs and ideas into any game he enters.  It's not just where he runs, but how he runs and when he runs that makes a difference.  On one of those alert runs he forced goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum into a difficult decision, which led to a takedown and subsequent penalty kick.  The kick was converted by Danny Cruz which was his first goal as a member of the Union.

 

Later, Jack McInerney was brought in, and when he scored his fifth goal of the season, in the 86th minute, it sure looked like a 2-2 comeback result was in the cards.  The celebration lasted no more than 60 seconds when Mirosevic tallied at the other end.  At the end of the night, the Crew had a fortunate 3-2 victory over a Union team that fought hard for most, but not all of the 90 minute game.

 

Too many times this year, near the end of the first half the team has surrendered goals. This has forced the team to have to chase the game which is okay if you have those weapons.  With an offense that has struggled this season, giving up those first goals of the game has been a lot for this team to overcome.

 

The Union is back at it with two games this week versus the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution.  For Wednesday's game, I would expect Manager John Hackworth to stay in the 4-4-2 formation that has led to five goals in the last two games, compared to four goals in the previous eight games while in the 4-3-3.

 

The Fire are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.  This is a well balanced team that has gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.  Sean Johnson and the Fire’s defensive back four have been solid during that stretch.  While they haven't had any shutouts, they rarely give up more than one goal in a game.

 

On Wednesday for starters, the Fire will be missing head coach Frank Klopas who was sent off the field during Friday night's 2-0 loss against Sporting Kansas City. In addition to Klopas, starting left back Gonzalo Segares is also out after picking up his second yellow card of the game on Friday, and subsequent red card.

 

The Union offense will try to generate the kind of chances they've had over the past two games, while on the defensive side, they must be aware of Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko, who help lead the Fire offense.

 

Join us Wednesday for the game on the Comcast Network beginning at 8 p.m. with the pregame show with game time set for an 8:30 start.