Had Chicago not taken three points from this one, Section 8 would have been left with no choice but to shrug, dry their eyes on their scarves, and accept 2013 may not be their year. That’s because over 90 minutes at Toyota Park, the Fire had been the slightly better side, but still exhibiting the issues that have kept Frank Klopas’ side from replicating last year’s playoff-qualifying form, Chicago had let Columbus stay even (0-0) through 82 minutes.
Yes, a couple of great saves from Andy Greuenebaum had something to do with that, as did a Columbus performance that didn’t get its usual creativity out of Federico Higuaín and Eddie Gavin. In truth, it was one of the Crew’s worst performances of the season, an inept attack finishing with no shots on goal, even if the match wasn’t exactly one-way traffic.
Failing to take advantage of a floundering opponent, Chicago looked like a team struggling to shake a 1-4-1 start. They just weren’t doing enough.
That’s what made Jeff Larentowicz’s goal so huge. It’s not only that the veteran holder so rarely finds a goal. It was the timing of it. Chicago desperately needed to get something out of this match lest full time come and they be left empty-handed after one of the few games they’ve controlled. Doubts like “if we can’t get a win from a game like this” would have began popping up while the dial controlling Frank Klopas’s hot seat turned up another knotch.
All it took was this one piece of execution: A long throw from the right; a flick by Austin Berry; and a run through Columbus’s box by Larentowicz that finally allowed Chicago to beat Greuenbaum:
The funny thing about Chicago’s winner was where it came from: The right. Almost any half-decent chance the Fire had created come from the other flank, with Patrick Nyarko twice given opportunities from crosses at the right post only to push shots right at Greuenebaum.
In the 75th minute, Nyarko’s second ball in off a corner led to this chance for Berry, one that should have put Chicago in front:
Ultimately, Larentowicz had to play hero for Chicago to claim their second win of the year, one that vaulted them into eighth in the East.
The Crew’s loss keeps them fifth, having dropped a spot after New York routed New England.