COLUMBUS, OH - April 24, 2010 - Chippy, scrappy, rough and tumble. Those are the words that were used to describe the matchup between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening. The match had many ups and downs, but ended in a 1-0 victory for the Crew.
Real Salt Lake entered Crew Stadium with quite a bit of history. They are the defending MLS Cup Champions. They knocked the Columbus Crew out of the playoffs last year. A new rivalry was definitely in the works.
Whatever the case, the Crew were looking to make a statement. They started the season strong with a victory over Toronto and a draw against FC Dallas. An awkward schedule had Columbus playing more exhibition games than real ones. Coach Warzycha sent the message that they were focused on getting three points from a match early in the season.
The players seemed to have revenge on their mind. "They are walking around as the champion, saying that they're the champion," goalkeeper Will Hesmer commented. "They were sub-.500 last year. That doesn't sit well with us. We think we have been the class of the league for the past two years. We wanted to prove it."
Defender Jed Zayner sent the same message. "You want to make sure they know and that other people know that last year was a fluke. They aren't the champions. We want to be the champions. We wanted to set the tone early."
Both clubs would have the bulk of their players available for the match. The Crew would be without defenders Shaun Francis (ankle injury), Chad Marshall (hamstring), and Danny O'Rourke (suspension). RSL would be without midfielder Ned Grabavoy (knee) and defender Chris Wingert (hamstring).
Hesmer would earn his first save of the night in the sixth minute, stopping a Salt Lake header. Hesmer would find himself in danger just four minutes later as RSL went 1 v 1 after getting behind the Crew backline. An awkward pass by defender Eric Brunner was to blame.
Hesmer stretched out to take the ball away from Costa Rican striker Alvaro Saborio, saving a goal in the process. It was a moot point as the whole play was called offsides. The weather began to deteriorate rapidly as the game progressed. The pitch held up, but there was a lot of slipping and sliding with the waves of rain pouring into the stadium. Several players said it was like playing on a field covered in oil.
Defender Andy Iro would send a header high for the Crew in the 15th. Striker Steven Lenhart would send another shot wide left two minutes later. RSL midfielder Andy Williams would have a shot deflected in the 24th minute. The weather continued to be an issue, but the physical play continued.
The 38th minute would bring the first big moment of the match. Striker Guillermo Barros Schelotto would be called on to take a penalty kick after midfielder Robbie Rogers was taken down in the box. The always reliable Schelotto drove home the PK, sending it left past keeper Nick Rimando. The final minutes of the first half provided some opportunities from both sides. Saborio would send a shot high in the 42nd, while Rogers sent one of his own wide right in the 45th minute. The Crew held on to their 1-0 lead going into the locker room.
Statistically, the first half was pretty even. The Crew had a slight advantage in shots (5 to 4) and corner kicks (3 to 1), while Real Salt Lake were called offsides 3 times.
The rough play continued into the second half. Kyle Beckerman was given a yellow card in the 50th for a reckless foul on Frankie Hejduk. Rogers would take a bad fall just moments later; Gino Padula would leave the field with an apparent knee injury in the 54th minute. Zayner would take Padula's place on the pitch, making his first appearance of the season. "I feel good. Like a lot of people say it is good to get out there and get some minutes in. Get the cobwebs out of your system," Zayner said. "It's been almost seven weeks now. I wanted to help the team in any way I can."
The Crew began to push on the attack just moments later. Solid passing, perhaps the best of the match, gave the Crew some opportunities on the RSL side of the field. Crew forward Steven Lenhart would find himself with an open shot, but hesitation closed the door of opportunity. Midfielder Eddie Gaven would take a shot of his own in the 57th minute, but it was deflected by a Salt Lake defender.
RSL would make noise with some tactical moves, sending in both Robbie Findley and Javier Morales in the 62nd. It didn't seem to pay immediate dividends for Salt Lake, who were lackluster in the attack. A crucial corner kick from Schelotto a minute later reached Brunner, who sent a header high.
Schelotto would breakaway in the 75th minute. The striker would unselfishly pass it back to Rogers, but the play was broken up by the RSL defense. A Crew corner came again in the 78th ended with a shot by midfielder Adam Moffat that went high over the crossbar.
Things got more intense in the final fifteen minutes. The RSL attack had suddenly come alive after failing to register a shot in over 34 minutes. Findley and Morales seemed to catch fire, pushing their team forward.
Hesmer was tested in the 81st, but made a great save to his left. The ball bounced around before Will Johnson took a shot, which landed in the back of the net. Luckily it was called offsides, nullifying the RSL score. Morales would nearly bring the score even three minutes later; his shot went just wide left of the Crew goal.
Hesmer would be called on again, making a nice kick save in the 88th minute. Findley was on a breakaway and was left alone with the Crew keeper after the pursuing Zayner took a fall. Hesmer, an easy choice for man of the match, was responsible for three solid saves in roughly a five minute span. Simply put he was brilliant in goal and proved why he is regarded as one of the top keepers in the entire league.
Stoppage time was a worrisome time for all Crew fans as Salt Lake continued to press forward. RSL had opportunity after opportunity, but the Crew defense held firm. No extra time goals would be given away on this night. 14,322 fans celebrated the second home victory of the season for the Crew as the game came to a close.
The large breaks between matches for the Crew is thankfully a thing of the past. The Crew hit the road for an important away match against the Seattle Sounders on May 1st before returning home on the 8th to face the New England Revolution.
Columbus Crew Starting Lineup: GK William Hesmer, DEF Frankie Hejduk (C), DEF Eric Brunner, DEF Andy Iro, DEF Gino Padula, MID Eddie Gaven, MID Brian Carroll, MID Adam Moffat, MID Robbie Rogers, FWD Steven Lenhart, FWD Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Real Salt Lake Starting Lineup: GK Nick Rimando, DEF Robbie Russell, DEF Jamison Olave, DEF Nat Borchers, DEF Tony Beltran, MID Will Johnson, MID Kyle Beckerman (C), MID Andy Williams, MID Collen Warner, FWD Alvaro Saborio, FWD Fabian Espindola
Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee Fines Crew Defender Danny O' Rourke
NEW YORK - April 13, 2010– The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee today fined Columbus Crew defender Danny O’Rourke an additional $500 for making an offensive gesture toward officials during the Columbus Crew’s 2-2 tie with FC Dallas on Saturday, April 10.
O’Rourke made the gesture in second-half stoppage time of last Saturday’s game and was issued a red card, which carries an automatic one-game suspension and $250 fine. The Disciplinary Committee reviewed the incident and concluded that he should be fined an additional $500.
O’Rourke will pay a total fine of $750 and will serve the one-game suspension during the Crew’s next match, which is against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, April 24.
Fines imposed by the MLS Disciplinary Committee are donated to MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer's community outreach initiative. MLS W.O.R.K.S. is dedicated to addressing important social issues affecting young people and seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. For more information visit the website at www.MLSsoccer.com/works.
Crew Earns Point on the Road
FRISCO, TX - April 10, 2010 - A stoppage-time goal from substitute Eric Avila helped FC Dallas steal a point from the visiting Columbus Crew in a 2-2 tie at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday. Jeff Cunningham opened the scoring for Dallas before Adam Moffat and Guillermo Barros Schelotto tallied for Columbus.
Cunningham's goal came on a penalty kick after David Ferreira was taken down inside the area by Danny O'Rourke.
Moffat's first goal of the year drew things level in the 52nd minute. Steven Lenhart received a fine ball from Frankie Hejduk and sent a great pass to Moffat, who quickly knocked it into the left side of the net to tie the game.
Schelotto's second goal of 2010 came after a penalty kick he took was stopped by Hartman in the 82nd. The Crew was awarded the kick after FCD center back George John took Chad Marshall down inside the box on a corner kick. Schelotto's spot kick was stopped by Hartman, but the Crew forward headed the rebound into the right side of the goal to make it 2-1.
But FCD wasn't done. After Ferreira was denied near post by Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer, the ball popped back into the midfield and appeared to strike Avila's hand. No call was made, however, and Avila struck a low shot that caromed off the far post and into the net for the equalizer.