~Muskegon, Michigan~

Back on April 11th the Crunch went into Chicago undefeated and looking to be in control of their destiny as far as the playoffs were concerned. They battled back from a 6-3 deficit and tied the game at 8-8 despite shotty officiating and the dreaded “home-field advantage.” In extra time the Crunch would fall to the Mustangs after a bad call that gave the Mustangs a “gimme.”

Yesterday at Mercy Health Arena in Muskegon, Michigan. in game two of a three-game series between Cleveland and Chicago, it was a different story. I decided to check this game out in person since I wasn’t able to travel to Chicago. I arrived at half-time and the score was already 6-0 in favor of the Crunch. Minick, Suljevic, Mutemwa, Blackwood, Spragling and Pepper all scored for the Crunch in the first half. It was obvious that a neutral setting and a bigger field created a recipe for disaster for the Mustangs.

In the second half, the game just got worse for the Mustangs as the Crunch Smelled Blood in the water. The Crunch scored two goals in the first three minutes of the third quarter and it continued to be a cluster-bomb from there. Especially after switched goalkeepers and one of the Crunch players shouted “new goalie!” I sort of felt bad for the new Mustang goalkeeper. Then, I thought about all the times as a player my teams getting hit with “phantom” or very sketchy calls, and suddenly I didn’t care as I saw the score continue to run up for the Crunch.

Bell, Jordan, Raney, Suljevic(2), Mutemwa(2), Blackwood(hat trick) and Spragling(2) would lead the second half scoring charge for the Crunch, But the “MAN OF THE MATCH” was the man that was missing from the first game in Chicago… Goalkeeper Marijo Musa. It’s nothing against the goalie that played in the first game against Chicago, but if Musa plays in the first game the Mustangs don’t win. I also spoke with Musa after the match and got his thoughts on his performance.

“It was a busy night, but whatever it takes to win. Coming into this weekend all of us wanted to get a little bit of revenge. Whether it’s me making thirteen saves or us scoring fourteen goals. At the end of the day, we got the win and that’s all i care about.”

While Musa was all business, head coach Lou Kastelic cracked a small smile as he saw his team dominate the Mustangs.

“This game had a little extra meaning to it just because it was for the invitational and a spot in the semi-finals later in July. So it was good to get that win. I lost a lot of sleep after the 9-8 loss, but it definitely feels good to get them back. We still have some work to do and we will see them again in a couple of weeks in Cleveland. Going into the next match-up against Omaha we have to keep the pedal to the floor. We are at our best when we are able to dictate the pace of the game and our pace of play which means passing and scoring instead of chasing the game. We will continue to preach and practice that. I think today we proved to ourselves and to the league that when we play we did today we can play with anybody and in some respects are almost unbeatable, But this also shows how the world of indoor soccer works. You can go 9-8 one week and 14-2 the next. You learn from your mistakes and make changes. I’m very proud of what we put together.”

With the 14-2 win against the Mustangs, the Crunch moves to 4-1 on the season and a spot in the semi-finals in the Great Lakes Invitational. For those wondering, from the information I have gathered, The Great Lakes Invitational is an in-season series to earn a spot in the playoffs later this season. Cleveland is 1-0 so far in the series and will finish the series later in May back home in Cleveland.

The Crunch is back home for a back-to-back weekend set with the Omaha Kings FC Saturday, May 8, Sunday, May 9 at the Soccerplex in North Olmstead, Ohio. For tickets visit www.theclevelandcrunch.com

~IT’S CRUNCH TIME!!~

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