The View from Our Crew

Crew-RSL Go Scoreless in CONCACAF Champions League

COLUMBUS, OH  - February 22, 2011 - Crew fans got their first taste of the new Columbus Crew on a cold night Tuesday at Crew Stadium in the first leg of the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The field was littered with snow and ice, but the Crew still had plenty of chances as both teams settled with a scoreless draw in Columbus.

Third year Crew head coach Robert Warzycha wielded a starting eleven consisting of familiar faces at forward, Venezuelan Emilio Renteria and Peruvian Andres Mendoza on top, midfielders, Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers, and Andy Iro at the back.

From there on, new faces consisted of Sebastian Miranda, Josh Gardner, Rick Balchan, Nick Grossman, and keeper Ray Burse.

“I think overall the team did well,” Warzycha said. “I did not see anybody out there that had a bad performance.”

As for the game, the new look Crew came out with vigor and looked to get the scoring going quickly as they pressed RSL from the opening whistle.

The Crew tried to use the wings in their attack, as Gaven and Rogers tried to cross balls into the middle, with the tall Mendoza patrolling the middle. The Peruvian had a chance or two, but the Crew could not find an opening goal in the opening match of 2011.

“We know that we have a very good team,” the Crew’s Eddie Gaven said. “We need to also go out there and show it, too. I thought we did a good job of doing that tonight.”

Renteria and Mendoza looked like a good pair up top, as Mendoza set Renteria, but the Venezuelan could not get a good enough shot off and RSL’s keeper Nick Rimando made the easy save. 

Photo Credit: Rob IvoryWeather conditions were not on the mind of Warzycha, as he had little to say about them after the match.

“There weren’t too many bad passes and the ball did not skip over the foot, but I think players had to focus on their first touch,” the Crew coach said. “This is not ideal (conditions), but I think both teams played a good game.”

He also talked about his new keeper.

“I think Ray (Burse) did well in goal,” the coach added. “He basically did not have to do anything, but he looks good.”

The Crew used their three subs, first Eddie Gaven, who is still trying to recover from an ankle injury, made way for Leandre Griffit. Griffit was utilized on the outside right and tried to take over for Gaven, crossing the ball into the middle.

“I tried to find a shot to take at goal,” he said. “After the teams went down a player, it was hard to find a solution.”

Although the temperature stayed below freezing, the tempers of both clubs were at a high level, as RSL’s Nat Borders and the Crew’s Emilio Renteria were shown red cards in the 72 minute.

Both had different stories after the game, but Borders said that he retaliated to a Renteria elbow to the throat, as both managers said they did not see the call.

“I’m not one that hits central defenders,” Renteria said through an interpreter. “I never give an elbow to the face.”

Along with the new faces was the Crew’s newest/oldest signing, Jeff Cunningham, came on in the 75 minute for Gardner, then played up top in the space that Renteria had left.

“The reception I got was definitely heartfelt,” the 34-year old said. “I felt like a rookie again, that was great.”

Cunningham did get a few good looks in front of the net, including a header that he hit right to Rimando.

The second leg of the matchup is to take place Tuesday (March 1) at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake.

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5-A-Side: CCL Edition - Crew 0-0 RSL

I hear what you're saying, "What's this?" Each Monday following an MLS weekend, I'll pick five topics/stories and share them with you through this weekly article. Easy enough, right?

1. The "Battle" - As called by various participants from Tuesday night's match, had an expected ending, but an unexpected twist. Columbus looked the better side throughout the full 90. Yes, the ejections played a part in it, but not during the first half. While RSL walks away happy with the score at the two-leg halftime, they failed to mount any sort of an attack with a an unchanged starting 11 that lit up MLS defenses all season long in 2010. Yet, there was never a real scoring opportunity against a Crew backline that had never played a meaningful match together. Also, not getting that valuable away goal puts pressure on RSL to come out swinging at home on March 1st.

2. "No" - The most polarizing figure in American soccer media, Simon Borg, was in attendance covering the match for MLSsoccer.com. During the Jason Kreis presser, I had asked Kreis if the return leg would be a different style of play, with it being the second match of a two-leg series, suspensions, etc. Kreis said it might for various reasons, but he did make it clear that Rio Tinto's field will be covered, adding he was confused why Columbus had not had their field covered for Tuesday's 0-0 draw. Building off that, Borg then asked Warzycha if he'd care to comment on Kreis' remarks on the field conditions. Warzycha replied with a hidden smirk, "No." Say what you want, but I happen to like Mr. Borg, because he tells you what he thinks, and asks the tough/necessary questions that lead to great quotes. Also, Simon offered to translate Emilio Renteria's interview for us. Classy.

3. Macho, Macho Man, I want to be a Macho Man - By my count, RSL players sported triple the amount of Snoods/leggings than did the Columbus players. Did that aid the Crew in preserving  a shutout?  Randy Savage would say yes.

4. Up, Up and Away -
Some Crew fans have been puzzled by La Turbina's move to 206 for the upcoming 2011 season. I welcome it, why not add second floor addition to the Nordecke house? Plus, who knows, it could leading to swelled ranks for both sets of supporters. The Nordecke is not dividing, it's growing. Viva La Turbina y el Nordecke.

5.  International Appeal - During the match, while perched high above the field at my undisclosed viewing location, I spotted two fellas who looked sporting TFC caps. During one of the breaks, I struck up a conversation with them and found out a few things. No, they didn't come to Columbus for spring break (though I did ask). They were in town on business and wanted to come out to see the big match and take in some good soccer. We chatted for a few minutes before parting our separate ways.  Makes me feel good that I'm not the only one who searches for live soccer matches while out of town on business.

The Best of the Best

COLUMBUS, OH - February 22, 2011 - In Tuesday night's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake, the 0-0 score was almost as low as the temperature in Celsius.

While both teams took several shots, only the Crew had a legitimate opportunity, which was taken by forward Emilio Renteria in the 19th minute. Renteria took the shot about 12 yards from the right side of the goal, but Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando was able to block the angle and caught the ball at stomach height.

While the goal count was low, the card count was high. In the 53rd minute, Real's defender Tony Beltran was ejected from the game for a second yellow based on his challenge of Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven. Two more ejections came in the 72nd minute when Renteria and RSL defender Nat Borchers elbowed each other. Despite the ejections, both teams played defensively and scoring opportunities remained minimal.

Beltran, Renteria, and Borchers will be suspended for the follow-up match in Utah on Tuesday that will determine which team advances to the CONCAF Champions League semifinals. Whichever team scores more goals in the two-game series will continue and have a chance to represent CONCACAF in the seven-team FIFA Club World Cup. This is a special opportunity to play against some of the world's best clubs, an opportunity that shouldn't be taken lightly.

The next match is scheduled to take place in warmer weather. During Tuesday's match, the temperature was 19 degrees with wind chill as snow streaked the field. Players wore gloves, long sleeves and headbands just to stay warm. With an attendance of fewer than 5,000, only the most dedicated fans occupied the stadium. They made up for their small numbers with passion. Throughout the night, one could hear chants, drums and the occasional vuvuzela. Fans will have yet another chance to cheer on their teams this coming Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. This has certainly become a heated rivalry; the next match won't be any different.

Crew Signs Two Goalkeepers

COLUMBUS, OH - February 20, 2011 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed two goalkeepers in advance of tonight’s CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal match vs. Real Salt Lake. Former Ohio State and FC Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse has been inked to a short-term, hardship deal, while Missouri State product Alex Riggs has agreed to terms with the Black & Gold for the 2011 season. Per club and league policy, no further terms of the deals were disclosed.

The Crew’s two veteran goalkeepers, William Hesmer (shoulder) and Andy Gruenebaum (hip), are both battling injuries.

One of the top goalkeepers in Ohio State University history, Burse was drafted by FC Dallas in the third round of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. He made his professional debut in 2007 in the opening match of the SuperLiga against C.D. Guadalajara of Mexico. In 2008 he was loaned to the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division where he appeared in 10 matches before returning to Dallas in 2009. Overall he appeared in 25 matches for FC Dallas (24 starts), recording 97 saves and finishing his tenure in Texas with a 1.50 GAA.

Riggs is a product of Missouri State University, where he was named MVC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. He appeared in 64 matches for the Bears with a career record of 27-25-10 and 23 shutouts. The 6-4, St. Peters, Mo., native was named All-MVC first team for three consecutive years and earned the 2010 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year award. Riggs was also named MVC Player of the week six times throughout his career at Missouri State.

Crew Announces the Addition of Duncan Oughton to TV Broadcast Team

COLUMBUS, OH - February 21, 2011 - The Columbus Crew announced today that all 34 of its MLS regular-season matches will be televised live for the fifth straight season in 2011, and that Duncan Oughton will join the “Voice of the Crew,” Dwight Burgess, in the TV booth as the primary color analyst on ONN’s regional telecasts.

ONN will broadcast 32 regular-season Crew games this season – home and away – starting with First Kick 2011 at D.C. United on Saturday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. ONN, Ohio’s channel for news, weather, sports and lifestyles programming, remains the Crew’s exclusive regional broadcast partner through the 2011 season.

The Crew is scheduled to appear twice on FOX Soccer Channel national broadcasts, vs. FC Dallas on Friday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m., and at Colorado on Friday, Aug. 5, at 9:30 p.m. (ET). The premier soccer-only channel in North America, FOX Soccer has been a national broadcast partner of MLS since 2003.

Oughton, a Crew icon who was the longest-serving player in club history, announced his retirement after 10 seasons in Black & Gold earlier this month. His transition into the front office as assistant to the technical director includes responsibilities in a variety of functional areas, including community relations, alumni relations, digital content, fan relations and youth player development, in addition to his TV duties.

Oughton moves into the analyst role previously shared by Bill McDermott and Dante Washington, both of whom the club envisions being considered primary options when scheduling conflicts arise.

“We are excited to have Duncan join our broadcast team,” said Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers. “He knows the game and the club, and his wit and personality are made for TV. I have no doubt that our fans will enjoy his commentary.

“At the same time, I want to thank Bill and Dante. They have done tremendous jobs in their own right, and I look forward to continuing relationships with both of them. They are good people and true professionals, but the TV responsibilities were a vital component of Duncan’s new role, which is a position the organization needed to create at this time.”

Over the course of his storied career in Black & Gold, Oughton was a part of all five major trophies won by the club and made history by becoming one of the first athletes in any sport to come back from an experimental surgical procedure in which his own cartilage was grown in a lab and reimplanted in his knee, while becoming one of the most beloved figures in club history.

“I'm excited to join the broadcast team and throw in my two cents,” Oughton said. “Hopefully the fans will enjoy what I have to say. Bill [McDermott] and Dante [Washington] have done a great job and I am sure I’ve learned a lot from them without even trying, because they were both very good with their unique styles. Dante is a very close friend of mine, so I will definitely be hitting him up for hints and advice throughout the season.”

A 33-year-old native of Wellington, New Zealand, Oughton was originally selected by Columbus in the first round of the 2001 MLS SuperDraft (No. 10 overall) and spent his entire professional career wearing Black & Gold, appearing in 136 matches (10th in club history) and logging over 9,000 minutes, while scoring three goals and recording 13 assists. He was also a longtime member of his national team, having been capped 22 times by the All Whites, as New Zealand is known, which he also remarkably returned to following the knee injury.

Crew Signs Midfielder Josh Gardner

COLUMBUS, OH - February 21, 2011 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed midfielder Josh Gardner to a multi-year contact. Per club and league policy no further terms of the deal were disclosed. 

Originally drafted by the LA Galaxy in the first round of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft (No.13 overall), the 5-11, native Freeport, Texas, native joins the Crew after spending the last four seasons in the USL-1 (Seattle Sounders 2007-08) and the USSF D-2 (Carolina RailHawks 2009-10).

"Josh is a left-footed player with good passing ability," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "He was drafted by the Galaxy so he has some MLS experience, and will provide the depth on the left side that we need." 

While at Carolina, Gardner saw action in 54 matches recording six goals and seven assists and helping the RailHawks reach the USSF D-2 championship match in 2010. Prior to the 2009 season, he spent two years with the Seattle Sounders, winning the USL-1 Championship in 2007 while tallying seven goals and three assists in 52 matches played.

Gardner joined the Galaxy in 2004 and was a member of the team that won the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup double in 2005. While in LA, he logged 1,096 minutes in 21 games played, recording one goal over three seasons.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for me," Gardner said. "I am very happy that the coaching staff saw something in me and decided to bring me on board. I am humbled by my journey to get here, but it is a great opportunity to come to a team that has such great tradition. I look forward to the hard work and to continue that tradition by helping the team achieve its goals.”

Gardner played at the University of Cincinnati in 2001-03, where he appeared in all 60 Bearcats matches during that time. As a freshman, he was one of three players on the team to start all 19 games that season. As a sophomore, he led the team with five assists and was named Second-Team All-Conference USA. In his final season, he tied for the team lead in goals (six) and assists (six) while starting every game of the season.

Crew Signs Rookie Midfielders

COLUMBUS, OH - February 20, 2011 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed both of its 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft selections, as midfielders  Andy Adlard and Ben Sippola have agreed to terms with the club and will don Black & Gold for the 2011 season. Per club and league policy, no further terms were disclosed.

A second round Supplemental Draft selection (No. 30 overall), Sippola was a semifinalist for the 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy who started 55 of the 56 games in which he appeared at Butler. He had his breakthrough year in college in 2010, when he scored eight of his 13 career goals and recorded nine of his 13 assists. The 5-foot-8 native of Northfield, Minn., was named to the 2010 NSCAA All-American First Team.

Adlard, the Crew's third-round Supplemental Draft selection (No. 48 overall), is a product of Indiana University where he saw action in 86 games, 69 of them starts, and was a teammate of fellow Crew rookie Rich Balchan. The 5-9 attacking midfielder scored 19 goals and recorded 17 assists in his four years as a Hoosier. He was a 2010 First Team All-Big Ten honoree as well as Third Team NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region.

Crew Beat Sounders in Preseason Action

PHOENIX, AZFebruary 10, 2011 - The Crew convincingly defeated the Seattle Sounders FC 3-0 in the third exhibition match of its preseason trip to Phoenix. Forward Andres Mendoza tallied the game-winner in the first of two 45-minute and one 30-minute periods, while a Seattle own goal and a tally by Jeff Cunningham sealed Seattle’s fate late in the third period. 

Goalkeeper William Hesmer saw 30 minutes of action for the first time since suffering a season-ending injury in the final match of the 2010 regular season against Philadelphia on Oct. 24.

Mendoza’s goal came in the 20th minute on a pass from Emilio Renteria. The Peruvian striker shot the ball from the top of the box into the left post and the back of the net.

In the 106th minute Crew draftee Justin Meram sent the ball in the box looking for Jeff Cunningham only to see it deflected in goal by Sounders defender Zach Scott. Cunningham found the back of the net three minutes later after picking up a bounce in the box from a corner kick headed down by Meram.

The Crew’s next preseason match will be Monday (Feb. 14), when it squares off against the 2010 MLS Champion Colorado Rapids.

Crew Lineups:

First 60 minutes: Ray Burse (William Hesmer, 45’), Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan, Shaun Francis, Robbie Rogers, Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, Emilio Renteria, Andres Mendoza (Cole Grossman, 30’)

Second 60 minutes: William Hesmer (Alex Riggs, 74’), Ben Sippola, Alex Fraga, Andy Iro, Josh Williams (Cory Elenio, 109’), Leandre Griffit, Cole Grossman (Santiago Prim, 79’), Dejan Rusmir, Bernardo Anor (Andy Adlard, 98’), Justin Meram (Eric Gehrig, 110’), Jeff Cunningham

Seattle Lineups:  

First 45 minutes: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, O'Brian White

Second 45 minutes: Bryan Meredith, James Riley (Zach Scott), Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni (Tyson Whal), Danny Earls, Roger Levesque, Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco), Erik Friberg, Steve Zakuani (Lamar Neagle), Fredy Montero (David Estrada), Mike Fucito.

Third 30 minutes: Josh Ford, Zach Scott, Leone Cruz, Tyson Wahl, Michael Tetteh, Seedy Bah, Servando Carrasco, Jonathan Prieto, Miguel Montano, Lamar Neagle, David Estrada

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