After a lackluster first half and a strong but ultimately fruitless second session, the 2007 Columbus Crew is as mysterious as it was before kickoff. A shutout and a renewed offensive spark in the season's first match would seem to bode well for 2007 if not tempered by one pesky, nagging reality: The team still hasn't figured out how to finish. For all the fine chances the squad produced in yesterday's season opener against Red Bull New York-and there were many-they couldn't put the ball in the net once again, unearthing newly buried memories of a nauseating 30-goal campaign from last year.

In order to win, you have to score, and the Crew failed to do so, in turn failing to squeeze the full three points out of its home opener. Defender Frankie Hejduk chalked up the mediocre start to first-game jitters and repeated that frighteningly familiar mantra, "The goals will come." But Ned Grabavoy, whose play at midfield outclassed his teammates and stood the test against aging great Claudio Reyna, offered a more sober perspective.

"Obviously you don't want to leave points on the field, you know?" Grabavoy said. "You can say, 'Yeah, we did well, and we did this and that,' but in this league, that's what happens. You get in July, and you say "That game, and this game, and this game,' and it starts to add up."

He's right. The Crew can't be cut slack for dropping points just because they have time to make it up. Every wasted opportunity is the same in the end-only the perspective is different. That said, they had better bring their A-game to Salt Lake next week and keep from falling behind in the standings early. How about this, guys: Don't dig a hole for yourselves this season? Be strong wire-to-wire. And maybe kidnap Jeff Cunningham while you're out there and bring him back with you?

Now, to break down the game via compartmentalization:

After a lackluster first half and a strong but ultimately fruitless second session, the 2007 Columbus Crew is as mysterious as it was before kickoff. A shutout and a renewed offensive spark in the season's first match would seem to bode well for 2007 if not tempered by one pesky, nagging reality: The team still hasn't figured out how to finish. For all the fine chances the squad produced in yesterday's season opener against Red Bull New York—and there were many—they couldn't put the ball in the net once again, unearthing newly buried memories of a nauseating 30-goal campaign from last year.

In order to win, you have to score, and the Crew failed to do so, in turn failing to squeeze the full three points out of its home opener. Defender Frankie Hejduk chalked up the mediocre start to first-game jitters and repeated that frighteningly familiar mantra, "The goals will come." But Ned Grabavoy, whose play at midfield outclassed his teammates and stood the test against aging great Claudio Reyna, offered a more sober perspective.

"Obviously you don't want to leave points on the field, you know?" Grabavoy said. "You can say, 'Yeah, we did well, and we did this and that,' but in this league, that's what happens. You get in July, and you say "That game, and this game, and this game,' and it starts to add up."

He's right. The Crew can't be cut slack for dropping points just because they have time to make it up. Every wasted opportunity is the same in the end—only the perspective is different. That said, they had better bring their A-game to Salt Lake next week and keep from falling behind in the standings early. How about this, guys: Don't dig a hole for yourselves this season? Be strong wire-to-wire. And maybe kidnap Jeff Cunningham while you're out there and bring him back with you?

Now, to break down the game via compartmentalization:

Man of the Match: Grabavoy. The midfielder, one of many Crew players plagued by injury in 2006, got this season off on the right foot with an enlivened performance on both sides of the ball. He held the ball well, distributed it skillfully and made some incisive runs through the Red Bull D. As for his defense, he stifled Reyna for much of the match, including one glorious strip late in the first half that led to a Crew scoring chance. If he keeps up this level of play for the rest of the season, he will have a clear-cut case for team MVP.

(Runner up: Eddie Gaven. Emerging from last year's season-long funk, Gaven looked more dangerous than he has since his first season in MLS, when the then-16-year-old pulled some thrilling end-line trickery to set up one of the year's most beautiful goals. Last night, he didn't do anything quite so lovely, but he was a legitimate threat.)

Most disappointing: Andy Herron and Jason Garey (tie). The Crew's biggest off-season signing and its former Great White Hope failed to strike fear into the New York defense, contributing to another goose-egg for the black and gold. Garey squandered one of the Crew's best chances in the first half when he failed to convert two successive point-blank shots. I struggle to think of one remotely successful moment for Herron. The defining images of his game were his dive in the penalty box and the time when he dribbled the ball straight into a competitor's foot.

Most impressive foe: Former U.S. captain Reyna seems like the obvious choice here, but the guy who caught my eye for Red Bull was Dane Richards. The winger consistently created problems for Crew defender Rusty Pierce and got off some shots and crosses that had me holding my breath. It's too early to tell how Bruce Arena's Red Bulls will fare this year, but Richards figures to be a big part of any success that comes their way.

Most surprising moment: Clint Mathis enters the match for New York. Shouldn't he be in a mental institution by now?

Least surprising moment: Dema Kovalenko picks up his first yellow card 19 minutes into the game with a thunderous slide tackle. Dema is the kind of enforcer who you love to hate; that said, he sure would make a fine addition to the Crew. His long-range blasts were one of Red Bull's most potent offensive weapons last night.

Toss-up: Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. From where I sat, Gruenebaum played a solid 90 minutes for the Crew, making awesome saves in several varieties—kick, punch, grab, sprawl. But the club's Internet backers are going nuts over a sequence in the 22nd minute when he wandered too far from the goal and put the team in peril. I must have been typing when this happened because I have absolutely no recollection of it. Judging from the vitriol, Gruenebaum's walkabout must have been quite the gaffe. But it's hard to fault a guy when he posted a clean sheet, even if he was bolstered by Marcos Gonzalez, perhaps the league's premier center back. The jury's still out on Gruenebaum, as it is for the club as a whole.

See you next weekend as the Crew travels to face Real Salt Lake. Until then, keep checking Sensory Overload daily for entertainment news and commentary.