Before we look forward to the Crew's Sunday matinee at Chicago, let's take a moment to peek back at what transpired last weekend at home against Toronto FC.

The Crew offense got off to a quick start, with Andy Herron netting two goals before exiting late in the first half with a quadricep injury. Toronto responded to each score, however, with one of their own, including a killer 40-yard bomb from Jim Brennan that locked the match at 2 for good.

Major themes from the match as I saw it: --For a few fleeting moments, Columbus seemed to finally find an offense that clicked. New acquisitions Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno played for the first time with Herron, back from suspension, and the three of them were a joy to see together. But when Herron left the match, the air seemed to come out of the offense. The Crew needs to be able to keep up that success without its full complement, as injuries are inevitable. Regardless, it looks like the team's fortunes this season might be tied to how often those three attackers can get on the field together.

--Frankie Hejduk: Great defender, awful, awful crosser. He makes up for it somewhat with strong runs and the occasional pinpoint pass, as with his assist to Kei Kamara a few weeks ago. But judging from Schelotto's frustration, Hejduk might be best served dropping back to his end of the field. Granted, with Hejduk about to leave for a stint with the national team, this clash might not be an issue for a while.

--Speaking of Schelotto, he seems pretty upset about the team's fortunes since he arrived, and he's upset he isn't getting some of the foul calls he would have gotten in Argentina. Whether that frustration translates into moping or catalyzing the team will be one of the stories to look out for as the season progresses.

--Andy Gruenebaum, despite giving up two goals, played one hell of a game, particularly in his one-on-one encounters with Toronto forward (and former Crew star) Jeff Cunningham. Cunningham, in his first match since a trade from Salt Lake, managed to secure several one-on-one breakaways against Gruenebaum, but the Crew keeper stuffed him time and time again. Gruenebaum downplayed those successes after the match, declaring, "Jeff's a great player, and I just was fortunate to get a boot to one and a hand to another. I'm sure Chicago will trade for him next week and we'll see him again or something." Considering no one could have stopped that Brennan blast, the second half was one of Dandy Andy's most authoratative performances. (And yes, I'm going to keep using that nickname even if nobody else does. I'm not as fond of "The Hebrew Hammer.")

Coach Sigi Schmid was especially candid in his post-game remarks. He talked about losing the physical battle in midfield, gave Gruenebaum the benefit of the doubt for the long

After the jump, some points of interest from his post-game press conference and my awards for the week...

Before we look forward to the Crew's Sunday matinee at Chicago, let's take a moment to peek back at what transpired last weekend at home against Toronto FC.

The Crew offense got off to a quick start, with Andy Herron netting two goals before exiting late in the first half with a quadricep injury. Toronto responded to each score, however, with one of their own, including a killer 40-yard bomb from Jim Brennan that locked the match at 2 for good.

Major themes from the match as I saw it: --For a few fleeting moments, Columbus seemed to finally find an offense that clicked. New acquisitions Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno played for the first time with Herron, back from suspension, and the three of them were a joy to see together. But when Herron left the match, the air seemed to come out of the offense. The Crew needs to be able to keep up that success without its full complement, as injuries are inevitable. Regardless, it looks like the team's fortunes this season might be tied to how often those three attackers can get on the field together.

--Frankie Hejduk: Great defender, awful, awful crosser. He makes up for it somewhat with strong runs and the occasional pinpoint pass, as with his assist to Kei Kamara a few weeks ago. But judging from Schelotto's frustration, Hejduk might be best served dropping back to his end of the field. Granted, with Hejduk about to leave for a stint with the national team, this clash might not be an issue for a while.

--Speaking of Schelotto, he seems pretty upset about the team's fortunes since he arrived, and he's upset he isn't getting some of the foul calls he would have gotten in Argentina. Whether that frustration translates into moping or catalyzing the team will be one of the stories to look out for as the season progresses.

--Andy Gruenebaum, despite giving up two goals, played one hell of a game, particularly in his one-on-one encounters with Toronto forward (and former Crew star) Jeff Cunningham. Cunningham, in his first match since a trade from Salt Lake, managed to secure several one-on-one breakaways against Gruenebaum, but the Crew keeper stuffed him time and time again. Gruenebaum downplayed those successes after the match, declaring, "Jeff's a great player, and I just was fortunate to get a boot to one and a hand to another. I'm sure Chicago will trade for him next week and we'll see him again or something." Considering no one could have stopped that Brennan blast, the second half was one of Dandy Andy's most authoratative performances. (And yes, I'm going to keep using that nickname even if nobody else does. I'm not as fond of "The Hebrew Hammer.")

Coach Sigi Schmid was especially candid in his post-game remarks. He talked about losing the physical battle in midfield, gave Gruenebaum the benefit of the doubt for the long

After the jump, some points of interest from his post-game press conference and my awards for the week...

Sigi Schmid, post-game:

Opening remarks: "We scored early, which is something we wanted to do. We had the lead at halftime, which is something we wanted to do. So it's definitely disappointing. I think some individual performances weren't as strong as they have been, and there were some simple passes that we should have made that we didn't make. And that's just something that has to be better."

On central midfielders Ned Grabavoy and Danny O'Rourke: "I don't think it was their best games, and I agree with you, I think we did lose central midfield. It's more because it's a game that the ball gets played over the top of midfield, so there were a lot of balls that were dropping, and then there's duels to win, and I thought Maurice Edu and Ronnie O'Brien won more of those 50-50 balls and as a result controlled that part of the game for them."

On finding the right balance for the Crew: "It sounds like a broken record; I feel like a broken record. You've got to be able to get guys on the field on a consistent basis. So tonight we got Herron and Schelotto and Moreno on the field for 35 minutes and they produced two goals, but then Herron was off, so then we're searching again. Andy will cheat defensively, but he can get away with it because when we win the ball, he does good things with the ball and was able to keep it for us. And so that was an effective combination. Alejandro found him with a great pass. He was there at the back post off that other combination. And who knows if that would have led to more? So it's a matter of just having that consistency. Like we were saying about the midfield, I think Ned's played very well this season for us, and Danny O'Rourke has been very solid as our defensive midfielder. They just happened to choose today to each of them not have one of their better games. And that's something that, if it wouldn't have happened today, would have been better for us."

Taking stock after eight games: "It's not good enough. We've got one win and five ties. We've only lost two games. There's a lot of teams that have lost more than us in this league. But there's too many ties that we should have had wins with. Everything is confidence and finding a rhythm. You go back early in the season where we played Red Bull and we created some great chances in the second half and didn't finish. Then we go to Salt Lake, they clear two off the line in the first 20 minutes of the game. One of those two goes in and we get that win, all of the sudden, confidence grows. Then we take a late goal in KC, so that's maybe one that we should have tied that we ended up losing. So there's only been one game we haven't been in, per se, on the scoreline and that's New York. But you've got to win at home. You can't just keep giving away ties. Some ties feel good, like when we came back and tied New England, and some ties don't feel so good, and we were around the goal at the end, and we were trying to get close to scoring, but again, there's little... I think we were better at times tonight in the final third and making those final decisions, and that got reflected in those two goals in 35 minutes, but there's still times when we have to be, just better."

Weekly Awards:

Man of the match: Herron was a sparkplug immediately, scoring two goals and doing much more. He was all over the field, making great runs and passes and actually pulling the trigger. Fresh off his suspension, he looked like the missing piece for the almost-there Crew offense. He even played a little defense. Great 37 minutes of action for him.

(Runner-up: Gruenebaum. He was a beast out there.)

Most disappointing: Brad Evans continues to look less than capable whether starting or coming off the bench. I have to believe Kei Kamara would be a better player to give field time to, especially considering he's responsible for 1/6 of the team's goals so far.

Most formidable foe: As usual, Cunningham, one of the league's all-time underrated players, was a force to be reckoned with. As Schmid mentioned after the game, "Jeff always plays with a lot of energy and desire when he plays in Columbus. The thing with Jeff is that isn't always the same in every game. But when he's here, he plays with a lot of passion and desire. And when he comes to play, he's as good a forward as there is in the league."

Least surprising: The Crew gives up a tying goal and fails to convert late chances for a game-winner. The club may have tied its way to the most points in the league three years ago, but that's not going to cut it this time out. Considering more than half the Crew's matches have ended this way so far, a dead-even finish is pretty much expected at this point. These stalemates are already getting stale.

Most surprising: The midfield woes of Grabavoy and O'Rourke, two of the team's most stalwart players up to this point. Toronto exposed their weakness—the long ball.

Cheers: Toronto fans, who came in droves to support their club. Coach Mo Johnston praised the travelers after the game, calling them good for the game and, particularly, good for the fans in Columbus to observe. They added a fun dimension to the crowd and, according to my buddy who works there, bought a lot of drinks later on at Gordon Biersch. Cheers to you, Toronto fans.