In front of a small but hard-core following of fans, the Columbus Crew reserves defeated the D.C. United reserves in Obetz on Sunday morning, 4-1, just hours after picking up a 1-0 victory in MLS play.
The Crew’s formation was similar to the one they used in the first-team game on Saturday night but slightly more attacking. You could argue that Columbus used the same 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3 in the early morning reserve game. Here was the Crew’s starting XI:
Matt Lampson; Ethan Finlay, Eric Gehrig, Julius James, Nemanja Vukovic; Tony Tchani, Kevan George; Aaron Schoenfeld, Ben Speas, Emilio Renteria; Olman Vargas
The biggest surprise was Ethan Finlay at right-back. Finlay is a pacey rookie that made his career in college on the wing as an attacking midfielder/forward. Tchani and George lined up in the two holding midfielder positions. Speas played slightly in front of the duo.
Technically, the Crew had three true forwards on the field, but Schoenfeld and Renteria were playing so wide that I considered them the other two players complementing Speas in the attacking-midfielder trio right behind Vargas.
After recently loosing his starting spot in the first team, Vukovic showed once again why his service is invaluable in any dead-ball situation. In the first five minutes, Vukovic’s corners forced a tip save from United goalie Bill Hamid and also produced the Crew’s first goal. Vukovic swung in a corner from the left side of the field and found Vargas’ head, who powered the ball into the net.
The Crew’s two wide forwards combined for the second goal after Schoenfeld connected on Renteria’s cross from the right wing and finished nicely with a strong shot.
After the half, United quickly pulled a goal back. Columbus goalie Matt Lampson came out of the box as Danny Cruz made his way in on goal. Lampson wasn’t able to stop Cruz from passing to Long Tan, who simply passed the ball into the empty net.
Minutes later, the Crew extended their lead back to two after another great service from Vukovic His cross went straight to a wide open Eric Gehrig at the far post. Gehrig took a great controlling touch and blasted the ball into the net from close range.
Vukovic was once again the provider in the Crew’s fourth and final goal in the 4-1 rout. This time, his cross connected with an unmarked Aaron Horton who finally headed home after having a couple of other great chances to score. It was Vukovic’s third assist in the game.
Every time I’ve had the privilege of watching Horton, he has appeared incredible dangerous. Earlier in the year, Horton played as a left winger/forward in a couple of scrimmages and left an everlasting impression on me. He is both speedy and tricky, and, at only 20 years of age, hopefully a great prospect for the future.