Newcastle United ended their tour of the United States with a game against MLS Team Columbus Crew. I had the pleasure of traveling to Columbus this week and was pleased to say that the Toon Army was well represented – there were black and white shirts everywhere!
Columbus started off really well and were knocking it around well for the first few minutes of the game. Shola’s goal seemed to really knock them back though. They did very little to test Steve Harper’s goal in the first half – no wonder Harps was warming up at half-time! The sending off of Crew’s keeper was justified – clear handball outside the box. Once they were down to ten men, there was no coming back. Kudos to the Crew fans who put up with me waving to him and shouting ‘Bye-bye bye-bye…’ at the top of my voice.
Coloccini’s goal was a tidy finish resulting from a corner, while Vuckic’s goal was a joy to behold – absolute top quality. Enrique did flash one just wide before the final whistle, but that would have been very harsh on Columbus, but great for the traveling Toon Army!
A much improved performance from Newcastle then and there were many positives to take from the game. Gosling looked decent, Tavernier and Dummett acquitted themselves well, and Harris Vuckic could well step up to the first team if he keeps producing. Despite starting with both Ameobi and Demba Ba up top however, there was very little in the way of productivity from Newcastle’s front two with Ameobi’s goal coming from a mix-up in the Columbus defence. The lack of depth we have in the striker department is worrying.
Hopefully the lads will have restored some confidence and will go into the Leeds game this weekend with their heads held high. For exiled Geordies in the US, hopefully this will be a regular event every pre-season.
- Steve Harper: Didn’t have a whole lot to do really. Did his job when called upon
- Coloccini: Didn’t win a ball in the air all night, but looked solid when the ball was on the ground. I’m worried that Premier League quality players will find him out very easily.
- Steven Taylor: Decent enough. Made some good defensive clearances, but again, wasn’t tested too much.
- Jose Enrique: Concentration levels for the first few minutes weren’t great, and neither was his first touch. Progressed as the game went on. Threw his shirt into the crowd at the end. Quality gesture.
- Tavernier: Looked unspectacular but very decent. Slotted in well.
- Jonas: Had a quiet first half. Came to life more as the game wore on.
- Tiote: Customary yellow card, even in a friendly. Columbus players were bouncing off him. Very tidy performance.
- Gosling: Showed some very nice touches. I personally feel that he didn’t have as good a game as is being made out, and looked off the pace half the time.
- Marveaux: looks very pacy, has decent footskills, and can certainly deliver a decent ball.
- Ameobi: Looked very lively and took his goal well.
- Demba Ba:I wasn’t impressed too much. Worked hard, but no end result. Still looks to be finding his feet a little (or his shooting boots, one or the other).
- Dummett: Was very impressed with this young man. Looked very assured and composed at centre-half. Was even ordering Alan Smith around when he came on!
- Alan Smith: Ran around, brushed his hair with his hands. That was about it.
- Leon Best: Looked lively when he came on – got himself in some good positions.
- Harris Vuckic: Absolute quality goal. Goal of the season contender already. Looked very composed on the ball.
- Mehdi Abeid: Could become a quality player. He was up for it, knocking it around well and working hard. Great effort by the youngster
Notes from the Game:
I was sat behind the Columbus dugout and both teams had to walk past to go down the tunnel. I managed to get Alan Pardew’s attention by shouting his name and applauding, and once he acknowledged me I shouted “Sign a striker Alan!”, to which he scowled and continued walking to the Newcastle dugout. I managed to get his autograph at the end, but didn’t bring up the striker issue – I figured he’d heard it enough.
Shola came out afterwards and signed autographs for the waiting fans, so did Pardew. The Columbus Crew stadium staff were less than courteous though. Leon Best came out to do an interview and the staff made everyone clear out. A bairn couldn’t get Besty’s autograph after his Mum told them that they had driven a long way – they just shrugged their shoulders. It would have taken about five minutes for Leon to sign his name for the waiting fans. That left a very sour taste.
I would love to know how the Toon fans were all in that corner of the stadium – was that pre-organised? If so, by who? Me and the Irish bloke next to me who had driven down from Toronto were all that was doing any kind of NUFC noise in our section.
The playing surface was immaculate. One of the best I’ve seen – credit to the Columbus Crew ground staff.
The Columbus Crew fans were a credit to their team. They never stopped singing the entire game.