The View from Our Crew

The Streak Continues

COLUMBUS, OH - April 30, 2011 - Emilio Renteria scored a pair of goals to lead the Columbus Crew (3-1-3) over Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday night. 

The Whitecaps (1-4-3) entered their first-ever match with the Crew without several key players including defender Jay DeMerit (groin strain) and strikers Atiba Harris (meniscus tear) and Eric Hassli (suspension). The Crew wasn’t 100% either with Danny O’Rourke (knee surgery), Shaun Francis (hamstring strain), and Josh Williams (hip strain) all out with injuries. 

The first half was uneventful to say the least. Columbus would have the statistical advantage, but failed to convert those into goals.  Columbus would take 7 shots (only 1 on goal) and 7 corner kicks in the first half, significantly better than Vancouver’s 4 shots and no corner kicks. The Whitecaps led only in fouls by a 9 to 6 margin. Neither keeper was too threatened and each finished with 1 save in the first 45 minutes.  Only 1 caution was issued to Whitecaps defender Jonathan Leathers, who was involved in a violent collision that ended David Ferreira’s season just a week ago.

The University of Akron men's soccer team was honored at halftime. The defending National Champions were a hit with the hometown crowd. Crew President & GM Mark McCullers presented Akron Head Coach Caleb Porter with a special "NCAA Champs 10" Crew jersey.

The second half was a different story, a different game.  Both teams pressured the other with vibrant and physical attacks with Columbus being the first to strike successfully.  Renteria would be called upon to convert a PK in the 50th minute and did so with relative ease, slotting one past Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly.  The Venezuelan striker would score another goal, his third of the season, just 9 minutes later.  The goal was set up by slick passing from Dilly Duka and Dejan Rusmir and gave the Crew what appeared to be a comfortable 2-0 lead with a little over 30 minutes remaining. 

“It was good for us that we scored early in the second half,” Columbus Head Coach Robert Warzycha declared in the postgame comments to reporters.  “So the game had to open up and we followed with another one.”

Omar Salgado, a seventeen-year-old striker making his first MLS start, would make it 2-1 in the 69th with Terry Dunfield and Alain Rochat on the assist.  Vancouver would remain on the attack for the rest of the match.  Only a goalmouth block from Josh Gardner (73rd minute) and a brilliant save by Will Hesmer (77th minute) and preserved the victory and the 3 points for the hometown Crew. 

“Josh made a good, sliding save,” Crew captain and defender Chad Marshall stated.  “We were able to hold on, but we definitely need to play better towards the end of the game.” 

The win extended the unbeaten streak for Columbus to six and counting.  Columbus will face the always dangerous Seattle Sounders FC at home on May 7th before hitting the road against the San Jose Earthquakes just a week later.

Crew Top 'Caps

COLUMBUS, OH - April 30, 2011 - Columbus met Vancouver for the first time in Crew Stadium and came out on top. The Crew hosted the Whitecaps at Crew Stadium this Saturday with a goal-filled match, winning at 2-1.

In a scoreless first half, the Crew played a solid possession game, with Columbus goalkeeper William Hesner not seeing much action. The ball was on a Black & Gold’s foot 66 percent of the time for the first 45 minutes.

The second half of the match told a much different story.

Just five minutes into the half a penalty kick was given to the Crew, after a foul from Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly. Emilio Rentera flew the penalty kick into the left corner effortlessly.

In the 59th minute, Rentera scored again, giving him his third goal of the season and making him the club’s current goalscoring leader.

With much offensive gusto from the Crew and Rentera looking hungry for a hat trick, it seemed the match was over for Vancouver. The tables were turned when 17-year-old Omar Salgado, Vancouver, scored his first professional goal with a header sneaking past Hesmer in the 69th minute.

Life was injected into the Whitecaps and the players were making many more goal-scoring opportunities. The game was nearly tied up twice, with a sliding save from Crew defender Josh Gardner in front of an open net in the 70th minute and a diving save from Hesner in the 77th minute.

Though there were many close calls for the Crew’s net, they claimed the 2-1 victory and will host Seattle Sounders FC on May 7 at 7:30 p.m.

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Omar Salgado with Derrick Smith Postgame Audio

Dilly Duka with Derrick Smith Postgame Audio

Josh Gardner with Derrick Smith Postgame Audio

Crew Earns Road Draw

TORONTO, ON - April 23, 2011 - Goals by Tony Tchani and Emilio Renteria caused the match between Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew to end in a 1-1 draw.

Toronto struck first with Tchani's goal in the 41st minute. Tchani would be issued his second caution of the match, an automatic red card, for unsporting behavior a mere moment after scoring the goal to put the home team ahead 1-0.

Columbus would equalize just 8 minutes later as Sebastian Miranda connected with Emilio Renteria, who launched a header from 12 yards out.

Each squad would have further opportunities late in the second half. Crew striker Tommy Heinemann sent one wide in the 77th minute, threatening the Toronto D. Two minutes later Toronto FC rookie Joao Plata rocketed a shot over the crossbar, putting Crew keeper Will Hesmer under pressure despite only 10 men.

Crew fans were hoping for more against a struggling Toronto FC side, but the fate of the Trillium Cup will be decided at a later time. Columbus now heads home to Crew Stadium with high hopes of victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 30th.

Toronto FC Starting XI - Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann, Danleigh Borman, Tony Tchani, Maicon Santos, Julian de Guzman, Javier Martina, Alan Gordon, Jacob Peterson

Columbus Crew Starting XI - William Hesmer, Rich Balchan, Julius James, Chad Marshall, Sebastian Miranda, Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo, Kevin Burns, Dilly Duka, Emilio Renteria, Eddie Gaven

Crew Reserves Snag Close Win, 1-0

COLUMBUS, OH - April 17, 2011 - Sunday’s friendly match was a slim victory for the Black and Gold as the Crew Reserves beat the visiting University of Louisville 1-0.

Tommy Heinemann scored the game-winning goal in the 35th minute. Though this goal was the deciding factor in the win, credit must be given to keeper Andy Gruenebaum, who had protected the net with many stellar saves.

The Crew Reserves return to league play on Saturday, April 23 when they face the Toronto FC Reserves on the road.

University of Louisville Starting XI – Andre Boudreaux, Greg Cochrane, Chase Rodgers, Austin Berry, Brock Granger, Kenney Walker, Andrew Farrell, Nick DeLeon, Dylan Mares, Will Vitalis, Colin Rolfe

Columbus Crew Reserves Starting XI – Andy Gruenebaum, Korey Veeder, Josh Williams, Andy Iro, Josh Gardner, Dejan Rusmir, Cole Grossman, Leandre Griffit, Tommy Heinemann, Jeff Cunningham, Andres Mendoza

Oh, What a Tale of Two Halves

COLUMBUS, OH - April 16, 2011 -Earlier this week, Sporting KC Head Coach Peter Vermes had stated that Sporting would not take the Crew "lightly" at this weekend's matchup.

It was evident from the start as Sporting allowed to Crew to take possession of the play from the whistle. but that reluctance to attack was short lived as Sporting began to take control of the chances in the first half. The first real chance came in the 15th minute where SKC Forward Kei Karmara had a chance from the left side of the field, forcing William Hesmer to make a save. In another nearly moment for SKC off a set piece, CJ Sapong lost his mark, Emmanuel Ekpo for a wide open header right into the arms of Hesmer.

Photo Credit: Derek SmithThe Crew rallied back with a shot of their own in the 34th minute that Robbie Rogers sent just wide of the crossbar from 25 yards out. The play was back and forth with multiple giveaways from both sides, leaving the scoreboard operator to throw up a 0-0 score at the break.

A lackluster first half gave way to an exciting start to the second. Just in time as many in the pressbox were feeling like a Flight Control technician working the late shift at Dulles. Within a few minutes, a succession of disallowed advantages and no-calls strangely led to the best chance of the night. Dilly Duka appeared to be tugged down in the box, but was denied the call. The ball bounced out to Kevin Burns who played to an onside Duka, flicking on to a screaming Robbie Rogers, who took care of business by finding the back of the net on a difficult sliding finish before finding the Nordecke to celebrate with the Crew faithful.

Rogers commented on the finish by saying, "When it's happening so quick. You don't really think about [scoring the goal], it's just natural."

Tommy Heinemann entered in the 67th minute for Emilio Renteria and was an instant energy charge to a team already carrying the momentum. Heinemann's first touch led to a chance right away as he header straight away to the feet of Robbie Rogers who found an open Eddie Gaven and drove it right to Jimmy Nielsen denying a glorious opportunity in the 68th minute. Heinemann uncharacteristic foot-skills also were responsible for take down by Julio Cesar, resulting in Cesar's second yellow of the night and his ticket to an early bath.

The Crew kept up the pressure throughout the closing minutes with wave after wave of attack. Sporting was relegated to hopeful direct balls to Teal Bunbury in hopes the ball would bounce their way. In the 88th minute, SKC had a last ditch effort to get out of town with point, but the wayward corner kick went the way of much of Sporting's attack in the second half - hopeful, yet disappointing. 

Columbus ultimately took care of business and for the 7,695 that braved the elements to witness the Crew extend it's shutout streak to a club-record four straight games.

One Touch Analysis:

- With the temperature bottoming out at 42 degrees and the wind howling at 40+mph, the weather continues make it tough to pack a full house at Crew Stadium.

- For a forward who some thought went too high in the draft, CJ Sapong will be a good fit for Sporting for years to come.

- I don't know what was faster Saturday, the Crew Stadium pitch or the backstrech at Talladega.

- One thing I will never understand, when every long balls skips out of play, you'd think both teams would try to stop aimlessly knocking the ball around the park.

- Dilly Duka reminded us all why he was highly touted as a prospect when the Crew drafted him in the first round in 2010.

- When asked about his mindset going into today's game, Duka stressed winning at home saying, "Nothing else matters, you don't tie at home. Especially at Crew Stadium, you're not supposed to tie here."

- A group of rookies, including Cole Grossman, were trying to name all the players on the large 2002 U.S. Open Cup Champion Team Photo plastered on the wall leading to the locker room. When asked if they needed help, Grossman said, "Nah, we got it." Wish I would have stayed to see how many they got right. Anyways, it's great to see the once barren hallway walls covered with photos of the club's memories.

Rogers Leads Crew to Win over Sporting

COLUMBUS, OH - April 16, 2011 - The Columbus Crew (2-1-2) registered a 1-0 victory Saturday evening against Sporting Kansas City (1-2-1).

Though both squads battled elements of cold, rain, and wind, the Crew’s Robbie Rogers was the sole goal-scoring conqueror. Rogers scored the game-winning goal, his second of the season, in the 49th minute. Dilly Duka and Kevin Burns would both get credit for the setting up the score.

Sporting KC began playing a man down after the 72nd minute when defender Julio Cesar received his second yellow, an automatic red card, of the match.

Kansas City plays on the road against the New England Revolution April 23 at 6:30 p.m., while the Crew will travel to Toronto FC April 23 at 4:00 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City Starting XI: Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Julio Cesar, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza. Birahim Diop, Davy Arnaud, Milos Stojcev, C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara

Columbus Crew Starting XI: William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan, Dilly Duka, Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria

Chivas and Crew End in Draw

CARSON, CA - April 9, 2011 - Chivas USA fought the Columbus Crew to a 0-0 draw on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center, giving the team its second consecutive tie and its first point at home in 2011. With the result, the Red-and-White move to 0-2-2 (W-L-T) on the season, while Columbus sits at 1-1-2 so far this year.

In a game where both team’s defenses held strong and restricted the opponent to very few chances, the highlight of the night was a 74th minute save by Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven received the ball behind the defense and shot low and to Kennedy’s left, but the Yorba Linda native was able to tip the ball just wide of the goal.

The shutout was Chivas USA’s first in 2011, and Kennedy’s first clean sheet since October 11, 2008 against the San Jose Earthquakes on the road. In two games so far this season, Kennedy has allowed just one goal and made four saves.

Both teams played aggressive, high-intensity defense, and as a result both the number of fouls and yellow cards was high. A total of 38 fouls were called in the game, and Chivas USA received five yellow cards to Columbus’ three. 

The best chance of the night for the Red-and-White came through a swift counterattack in minute 79, with Justin Braun floating a long cross to Nick LaBrocca, who placed his first touch, left-footed shot from about ten yards out directly at Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer.

Chivas defender Zarek Valentin returned from international duty with the United States Under-20 National Team and slotted back into central defense, taking the spot where he played in the first match of the season for the Red-and-White.

We’re Back: The Crew Get First Win of 2011

Photo Credit: Derrick SmithCOLUMBUS, OH - April 1, 2011 - Goals from Andres Mendoza and Eddie Gaven propelled the Columbus Crew to a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas Saturday night. It was the Crew’s victory of the season as they improved to 1-1-1, while Dallas fell to a 0-2-1 record.    

Both clubs started the match relatively healthy and very eager to get their first win. Each team tried to push forward and began the game with an attacking style.  The Crew were able to come away with a nice opportunity in the 27th minute when a cross by Emmanuel Ekpo found the head of Robbie Rogers, then sailed just a few inches over the goal.  It was the home team’s best chance of the first half. 

Things went south quickly for FC Dallas in the 33rd when midfielder Jackson Goncalves received his second caution, which resulted in an automatic red card.  Dallas would never recover from going down to 10 men; the visitors were forced to abandon their game plan and focus on defense. 

“With a man advantage you have to play even harder,” Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha commented in the postgame press conference.  “You have to punish the team for playing with a man down.”

As you can imagine it is incredibly difficult to be a man down for over 60 minutes and come away with a positive result, but Dallas was able to keep things even at 0-0 going into halftime. That was an accomplishment in itself. 

The Crew appeared to have gotten the better of Dallas, but they had all 11 men. The Crew coaching staff made their first substitution going into the second half, subbing out Dejan Rusmir in favor of Emilio Renteria.  Rusmir put in an amazing performance for the first 45 minutes, but Columbus was in need of another forward in the attack.

Renteria became the catalyst of the Crew attack, providing a spark upfront for Columbus.  The Venezuelan striker displayed physicality, toughness, and an incredible determination to make a difference in the night’s matchup. 

Eight minutes into the second half, the Crew got the opportunity they were waiting for when Emmanuel Ekpo was taken down in the box by George John.  Designated Player Andres Mendoza stepped up to the penalty spot and converted, pushing the Crew up 1-0 in the 54th.

Jeff Cunningham, who entered the game for Andres Mendoza in the 61st, nearly scored another on his first touch of the match, striking a ball into the right side of the net. The entire play was set up by a gorgeous heel pass from Renteria.  Unfortunately, FC Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman collided with one of his own defenders on the play and was slow to get up after the hard knock.

Less than 20 minutes later, Dallas was looking to equalize as Zach Loyd connected with Milton Rodriguez, but the header was snagged by Crew keeper Will Hesmer, who was clearly in control of the Crew goal. 

Stoppage time would bring a pair of scoring opportunities for the Crew.  First, Rogers collected a pass from Cunningham and headed straight into Dallas territory. He would take on Hartman, but the veteran keeper was able to come away with the save.

Just a few moments later, Gaven hit paydirt after an unbelievable individual effort.  Rogers got involved again, sending a pass along to Gaven, who made a slick cut to shed his defender, dribbled to the top of the box, and hammered home a left-footed shot.  The stoppage time goal put an exclamation point on the Crew’s win.  “It feels good,” Columbus Crew defender and captain Chad Marshall declared. “It was nice to get the goals, two well worked goals, I thought. And it’s nice to get three points.”

The game ended with the hometown Crew thrilled with the 2-0 result and Dallas still looking for answers in the young 2011 season.  Columbus hopes to carry this momentum to their road game with Chivas USA on April 9th before heading back home to face Sporting Kansas City on April 16th.

FC Dallas Starting XI: GK Kevin Hartman, DEF Ugo Ihemelu, DEF Brek Shea, DEF George John, DEF Jair Benitez, MID Marvin Chavez, MID Daniel Hernandez (C), MID Jackson Goncalves, MID Fabian Castillo, FWD David Ferreira, FWD Ruben Luna

FC Dallas Bench: GK Chris Seitz, DEF Zach Loyd, MID Eric Alexander, MID Eric Avila, MID Andrew Jacobson, MID Ricardo Villar, FWD Milton Rodriguez

Columbus Crew Starting XI: GK William Hesmer, DEF Sebastian Miranda, DEF Julius James, DEF Chad Marshall, DEF Rich Balchan, MID Eddie Gaven, MID Dejan Rusmir, MID Kevin Burns, MID Robbie Rogers, FWD Emmanuel Ekpo, FWD Andres Mendoza

Columbus Crew Bench: GK Alex Riggs, DEF Andy Iro, MID Josh Gardner, MID Dilly Duka, FWD Jeff Cunningham, FWD Tommy Heinemann, FWD Emilio Renteria

Kevin Hartman with Derrick Smith (audio)

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