Gaven’s late winner leads 10-man Crew to key victory over Union at PPL Park

EddieGaven (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By JOEY SAMUEL

CHESTER, Pa. — Despite being down to ten men, and getting dominated in possession for large parts of the second half, Eddie Gaven gave the Columbus Crew just what they needed to make up ground in the ever-tightening Eastern Conference playoff race.

Gaven scored nearly five minutes into stoppage time to give Columbus a 2-1 road win over the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Wednesday night.

Both the Union and the Crew scored goals off set pieces during the first half. Carlos Valdes's free kick was deflected by a wall of Crew defenders and it beat goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who was making his first start for Columbus. The Crew answered 12 minutes later when Federico Higuain's free kick was headed in by Josh Williams.

In the second half, Williams was sent off after an altercation with the Union's Antoine Hoppenot. The Union responded by bringing on Freddy Adu and creating waves of pressure, but the Crew defense held strong. And late into stoppage time, Gaven scored on a perfectly-executed counterattack to give the Crew a 2-1 win and all three points.

"In the 70th minute, the game changed because of a red card," said Crew coach Robert Warzycha. "We defended well. Actually they had plenty of shots, which we blocked, but at the end of the game you have a player on the field who can really change the game, and he did."

It was a contest in which one team's playoff hopes were entirely on the line, and another was hoping to rack up more points in what is becoming a legitimate postseason push.

The latter team, Columbus, was the one that ended up with the win, despite Philadelphia controlling 60 percent of possession over the course of the game. Now, the Crew sit just two points back of DC United for one of the five playoff spots from the East, and they even have a game in hand.

The Union, on the other hand, saw their hopes essentially extinguished by the loss. They needed all three points, yet they ended up earning none.

"It's just a cruel game sometimes," Union manager John Hackworth said. "To have that much of the play, to have that many shots, that many opportunities, to go up a man for the final 20 minutes and not get a result out of that game, is mind-boggling. But that is this game sometimes."

Philadelphia now find themselves 16 points out of a playoff spot, with teams like Columbus and the Montreal Impact above them in the standings as well.

"We've got a lot of ground to catch up," said Union midfielder Brian Carroll. "It's very difficult but we have to keep fighting and playing until the very end in order to have confidence in ourselves, in each other, as a group for the rest of this year and for next year."

After beating the team directly below them in the standings, Columbus will now turn their attention to the team directly above them in the Montreal Impact, who they host on Saturday. Philadelphia, meanwhile, travel up I-95 to face the New England Revolution.

Here are the match highlights:

What are your thoughts on the match? Will the Crew continue this strong form and turn it into a playoff spot? Are the Union's postseason hopes completely gone?

Share your thoughts below.

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28 Responses to Gaven’s late winner leads 10-man Crew to key victory over Union at PPL Park

  1. Thomas says:

    gaven should get called up

  2. Good Jeremy says:

    For the beard mostly. I wouldn’t want those eyes staring at me either.

  3. pd says:

    I’d love to know what this Adu as sub experiment is all about…

    Season is effectively over for Philly, hope the make the most of the rest of the season by staying healthy and learning how to play as a more effective unit. The talent is there, the mentality and cohesion is not. Can’t quite tell if it’s a personnel issue of a coaching issue, but it’s not simply a matter of letting young players grow into their roles. Something is missing. They should be a much better team than they currently are.

  4. Bub says:

    Agreed…why Lahoud and Gomez? Let’s see more Keon Daniel and Torres when he’s healthy enough. I am tired of seeing slow, untechnical players lose the ball with their heavy touches.

    You don’t need Carroll and Lahoud out there together. They ate basically the same player. I would love to see a 4-4-2 with hoppenot and Mac up top together.

  5. Stracho says:

    Please add Cruz and Hoppenot to your list of players with heavy touches. Sort of a theme with the Union. Maybe that’s why they bench Adu.

  6. Dennis says:

    I was at the game and too far away to see what the Hoppenot-Williams thing was. I just saw Hoppenot on the ground, The assistant Referee was right on top of the altercation, then the ref gave a yellow to Williams, followed by a red. Hoppenot got a yellow for his part.

    Anyone see what actually happened?

  7. Dennis says:

    Mostly Gaven had a quiet game. He dodged a handball call in the PA in the first half and spent most of the game out wide on the right pretty much starved of any service. He did make 2 or 3 good crosses and one run up the side to beat the defense. He played kind of deep as a forward, but did not do too much defending except on corner kicks. He probably won a bit over of the 50-50 balls, but always looked kind of week against the physical pressure. I like him, but don’t think he will make far at a higher level.

  8. Dennis says:

    Arg!

    over half of the 50-50 balls
    and weak, not week

  9. Carl says:

    Hoppenot acted like a little b*tch and went down as if Williams had actually struck him. It was a just little shove.

    Hoppenot was rewarded for his acting efforts. This is why players engage in these exaggerations, because it works. Refs buy it.

    Hoppenot received a yellow for pushing O’Rourke. Because O’Rourke isn’t a p*ssy and didn’t go down, it was just a yellow.

    Got it?

  10. Jim says:

    This was the third game in a row where the Union got in a scrap with the other team. Maybe it’s because the team full of young pesky punks who run their mouths a little too much. This is coming from a Union fan by the way. I just hate the players they have this year, even the talented ones. It seems like as soon as they dont get a call they start yelling at the ref while the game is still going on. That is the Captain’s responsibility to talk to the ref, not everyone on the field. Hopefully the Gomez at Forward experiment is over. Hackworth is a joke of a manager. Adu needs more minutes, he is the best option they have right now.

  11. PD says:

    Hi Carl,

    You sound so angry. I hope you feel better now that you’ve tongue lashed the world. Big talk typed from a dark corner in your mom’s basement… I mean your “apartment” doesn’t change the fact that contact was made and the other player took advantage. The better team won and karma sucks, but please do yourself a favor and tone down the misogynist big man talk. It doesn’t impress.

  12. PD says:

    I agree–enough with the scrapping (which is really just poor sportsmanship) and time wasting –it’s infuriating. Less energy spent on that BS, please.

    However, I do think there is a lot of good on this roster, but that it hasn’t clicked yet. Adu and Marfan need to be on the field and need to find a way to work off each other. On paper there are enough players to start 9 players that are capable of being a game changer, but two of them aren’t 100% still. Soumare can provide the missing height and Torres with Marfan and Adu will be wicked. Moreover, this team needs a veteran finisher and a veteran keeper.

  13. Trent says:

    I’m sure he was pretty tired. He has played every game for the Crew over the last two weeks which is no easy task.

  14. PD says:

    One other thought: there is no getting around that Nowak left this team a shambles and that the front office still needs a bit of an overhaul as well, but there is a core of good young players that with time and coaching and a few key additions can become a good team. It’s a shame the pieces aren’t coming together yet, i don’t know how much of that is Hackworth’s ineffectiveness versus he’s trying tomikpliment some major changes…but this stuff takes time and the U aren’t there yet. It’s clear now that the U will not get lucky this season and sneak into the playoffs, so hopefully they can take the long view now and keep working toward a possession and a short pass quick tempo game, improve their finishing and keep their core together while bringing the injured back into the fold.

  15. Steve C says:

    From what I saw on the TV, Williams & Hoppenot were talking ish to eachother, and Hoppenot walking over to Williams who then pushed him to the ground. Danny O’Rourke must’ve not liked what Hoppenot was saying, so he walked over to him while he was on the ground and said something to him. Hoppenot then got up and shoved O’Rourke to the ground.

    I’m assuming Williams got a red for instigating the whole thing, and Hoppenot got a yellow for the follow-up shove to O’Rourke.

  16. Trent says:

    There was a bump followed by an acting job which was why O’Rourke got so upset right after it happened. If the bump knocked him down, he must have an awful time on a windy day.

  17. Helium-3 says:

    Higuain’s diagonal through ball to Meram was world class! Without that nobody here would be talking about Gaven’s game winning goal.

  18. John says:

    Higuain is the MAN! Gaven & Mirosevic are playing so much better with a creative presence directing the attack.

  19. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    Woof, Philly was bad, but Columbus wasn’t all that great. Neither goalkeeper had to make many tough saves and it was the third home game in a row in which Philly was boring as all hell.

    They way that Philly plays and are setup, they’re tough to breakdown. Unfortunately, each game they make a few bonehead errors to give away goals. This makes them far easier to beat than they should be. They lack focus at times and have a few basic shortcomings (see below) that need to be addressed before they can become a playoff-contending team.

    1. They lack size. Against Chicago and last night vs. Columbus, medium-sized teams dominate them in the air. Philly can’t make use of crosses/corners and they are vulnerable against them on defense (especially w/the skittish MacMath in goal). They don’t need to become the Dynamo, but they need to grow a bit, improve on attacking the ball in the air and MacMath needs to get better on crosses and corners.

    2. They give the ball away too easily. Their passing is so inaccurate it is almost beyond belief. These guys are professionals, no?

    3. They lack vision. McInerney/Hoppenot make well-timed runs behind defenders, but the midfield doesn’t play the ball over-the-top in time. Stretching the field would alleviate midfield pressure and make it easier to pass the ball. This is a symptom of Philly’s midfielders and defenders inability to see beyond the pass right in front of their face.

    4. They lack a forward well-suited to the central role. In fact, McInerney admitted as much in the post-game interview – he’s not in the correct position. Philly needs someone(s) up top who can hold the ball. It doesn’t have to be a big guy, just someone who is strong and capable of controlling the ball and holding it long enough to integrate the midfielders and outside forwards into the attack.

  20. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    Definite truth. Great pass that was the difference in the game. One of the few moments of real skill in a dull game. Higuain looks like the real deal.

  21. catfish9 says:

    Agreed Hoppenot is a Wuss! He needs to go play in latin america where sissy flops like that are comonplace. It obviously worked because of the red to Williams but I can’t stand those antics. The league has been cracking down on it so hopefully they punish him for it. Did you see him whining two minutes later after he again flopped but this time no whistle? Danny O is the type of guy who can’t stand that crap and it was obvious when he approached Floppenot. His face looked liked he wanted to throw down.

  22. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    I think you’re right that one needs to take the long-view with this team. There is no way they should make the playoffs and I think Hackworth has probably done a good enough job to get the promotion. They certainly need a few new players, but as bad as they have been playing as of late, they have a base of young talent that should be the foundation of a strong few years.

  23. Helium-3 says:

    These are the type of passes and quality that people pay to see, not monotonous, robotic soccer evident weekly throughout MLS.

    Higuian was definitely a great addition to the league. Hope they can sign more quality players like him.

  24. Eddie Gaven's Dad says:

    I agree, all the guy does is work hard and produce. We need more guys like him i the Nats lineup….

  25. Collina says:

    Then why no red for Hoppenot when he pushed O’Rourke? Same offense, one the ref actually saw, different punishment. The officiating in this league confounds me. Williams deserved a red, but so did HOPPENOT….

  26. Obi-wan McSnarky says:

    ^ this. I think the size issue could be made irrelevant with the other adjustment you mention plus a GK that knows how to manage his whole box… Not just stutter step inside his 6…

  27. Stretch says:

    Williams did a two handed arms fully extended push to the ground. If you have watch any of the games in the last 4 weeks MLS has clear stated this is an automatic red. Hoppenot got the yellow for pushing O’Rourke back and running his mouth. O’Rourke never went down or was a risk of going down. In case you felt cheated O’Rourke later delviered an elbow the the chest of Hoppenot in the box that dropped him which went uncalled and this was a legit Red card type foul. On the orginal point the ref did everything correct and Hopponet was caught flat footed that why it looked worse that it was when he was pushed down.

  28. Strecth says:

    I agree with your assesment in most items. That being said there are ways to address some of the issues with what is currently on roster. The tachtical formation and style are completly wrong and this falls squarely on Hackworth who has changesd his style once he realized he was auditioning for a job and not just filling in. The 4-3-3 is completly wrong for a team that can’t maintain flow throguh the MF. The statrting line up should be a 4-4-2 looking something like this:
    – McInerny – ? –
    –M. Farfan–
    Adu—Cruz
    –Carrol–
    G. Farfan, Okugo, Valdez, Williams
    –MacMath–

    The problem is with the ? they do not have a legit #9 which they deperatly need. If you enforce players holding ther position this line up work much better. Cruz is a winger not a striker and provides better play from the wing, Adu exceled at Left wing for the U23 where he had was able to provide good service and inter cahgne with the CM on the fly which M. Farfan can do. This should allow for a more spread feild and better MF flow. The problem still is the strikers the only option for a back to net striker is Hoffman who has been unavailable most of the year. MacMath does need to have better control over his box.