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COLUMBUS, OH - June 27, 2009 - The cheers of "Guillermo" were heard loud and clear by the crowd of 15,575 fans on Saturday night. The Columbus Crew are happy to have the leading scorer in Major League Soccer as part of their team. Yet it was not a striker or even an attacking midfielder that changed the game. It was a defender.
The last-place New York Red Bulls came to town with something to prove: that the current winless streak is an anomaly. No one expected to see the Red Bulls in such condition after playing in the MLS Cup Championship last season. This year's Red Bull team is very young and very raw, but holds quite a bit of potential. The Red Bulls would need to come together as a team amongst a sea of adversity for the longtime MLS club.
Unfortunately, this struggling New York squad goes into this important rematch without star striker Juan Pablo Angel. The former Aston Villa and River Plate forward was not listed as a starter or even a substitute for tonight's match due to a quadriceps contusion.
The team's roster has been in flux as of late, which is not so much of a surprise. The Red Bulls terminated the contract of midfielder Juan Pietravallo, who appeared in just three games this season, earlier this week. This is expected to be one of many in the coming weeks for the New York club, who are reportedly interested in Austrian midfielder Ernst Obster and Senegalese goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. Either player would be a welcome addition to this hapless team. In the past, New York has focused on acquiring a large quantity of players with little thought of the quality of such players. Tonight's lineup is a reflection of this trend.
Midfielder and captain Seth Stammler would have to take on a leadership role in the absence of Angel. Stammler appeared to be worthy of the captain's armband in the first half, showing composure and patience when handling the ball.
Columbus is a much different story. The Crew have been playing very well recently and are making a run up the standings. Most believe that they have regained their form of last year. Columbus would benefit greatly from the return of goalkeeper William Hesmer and defender Frankie Hejduk, two key components from the 2008 MLS Cup Championship squad. Both have recovered from nagging injuries and would surely provide a boost to the Crew defense.
Columbus had an advantage in terms of possession and shots taken in the first half, but they were unable to shut down the Red Bulls completely. Both sides had ample chances to score throughout the first half, but it was Crew defender Chad Marshall who turned one of those scoring opportunities into a goal in the 45th minute. Schelotto, the master of the corner kick, provided the assist. The experience of the Crew squad looked to be a strong advantage going into the locker room.
The Crew came back on the pitch guarding a 1-0 lead over the Red Bulls. Fortunately for the Crew, it was much more of the same. Both teams failed to score, even though there were some opportunities. The best chance for the Crew came in the 66th minute as a header by Eddie Gaven went wide left of the goal. On the other side, the Red Bulls seemed truly content with playing back in a defensive position. There was not as much movement forward for New York in the second half.
Apparently the lack of offensive firepower and movement from New York was by design. Juan Carlos Osorio, head coach for the Red Bulls, implemented a tight 4-5-1 formation with the hopes of containing the Crew offense. This plan was successful to some extent considering a defender scored the lone goal. The highly explosive Schelotto was held to only two shots, neither of which could be considered on goal.
Some had hoped that the Crew would put up more goals considering the situation. Coach Robert Warzycha provided a great summary by saying "One goal was enough to win today and we are happy." Frankie Hejduk added "To hold them like we did. To limit them to basically nothing at all. I think we showed a lot of heart and a lot of character by battling back. Was it the prettiest at times? No. We did what we had to do. We fought hard like last year. We really limited their chances." It was apparent that the Crew's dominance on the field was not clearly shown by a 1-0 result. The consensus was that the Crew could easily have won by a 2-0 or 3-0 margin.
The Crew hope to continue their winning ways at home against D.C. United on the 4th of July. United, led by strikers Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno, currently are leading the Eastern Division with 23 points.
Crew Falls to FC Dallas in Heartbreaking Fashion
FRISCO, TX - June 20, 2009 - The Columbus Crew fell to FC Dallas, 2-1, Saturday at Pizza Hut Park, halting the Crew's unbeaten streak at nine consecutive games.
The Crew was first to get on the board when Guillermo Barros Schelotto's corner kick found the head of Eric Brunner in the 17th minute. Brunner's flicked header deflected off Dallas defender Pablo Ricchetti and into the back of the net for the lone score of the first half from either side.
The Crew maintained its advantage through the majority of the match's second stanza until Dallas defender Eric Avila, who came on as a substitute in the 76th minute, received a pass from David Ferreira and sent a bending shot from several yards outside the penalty box past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum for the match equalizer.
The Crew fell on hard luck in the match's waning moments when referee Terry Vaughn awarded Dallas a penalty kick when defender Chad Marshall was called for a foul against Ferreira inside the penalty box. Striker Kenny Cooper stepped to the spot and deposited his shot into the lower left hand corner of the net to give FC Dallas the win at home.
Crew Trades Noonan to Colorado
COLUMBUS, OH - June 15, 2009 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has traded midfielder/forward Pat Noonan to Colorado in exchange for the Rapids’ natural first round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money.
Noonan was originally acquired by the Crew on August 6, 2008 from New England in exchange for the Crew’s natural first-round selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money. The veteran attacker made 16 appearances with eight starts during his stint with the Black & Gold, notching a goal and three assists in that time.
The Crew receives Colorado's natural first round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, as well as allocation money, in the deal, replicating the original terms that brought Noonan to Columbus in 2008.
Prior to joining the Crew, Noonan played for Aalesunds FK of the Norwegian Premier League after five standout seasons in New England, which originally selected him in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft out of Indiana.
"It's a Great Day to Be a Crew Fan"
COLUMBUS, OH - June 14, 2009 - Exciting. Tense. Dramatic. Spectacular. These are words that describe the match viewed by 12,658 fans Saturday afternoon at Crew Stadium. it was perhaps the most exciting match of the year for fans and players alike. The stadium environment was one of passionate fans and jubilant celebration.
This day was one of opportunity for both the Columbus Crew and Chivas USA. The Columbus Crew put their eight-game unbeaten streak on the line against Chivas USA, which led the Western Conference with a 8-3-3 record. Chivas USA was out to prove that it can do without U.S. national team members Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Klejstan, who are participating in the FIFA Confederations Cup. Injuries could have been a stumbling point for both clubs as the injury report clearly stated. Midfielder Adam Moffat, goalkeeper William Hesmer, and defender Frankie Hejduk headlined the injury report for the Crew, while Chivas faced the absences of forward Ante Razov and defenders Bobby Burling and Lawson Vaughn.
The opening minutes of the game were characterized by aggressive play from both sides as both goalkeepers were tested early. A Schelotto shot in the 19th minute looked to be a gamebreaking moment, but it ended up in the sure hands of Zach Thornton. Chivas turned their opportunities into a goal in the 39th minute when forward Eduardo Lillingston took advantage of an overaggressive move by Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum. Lillingston, who led Chivas with five goals, made the goal look easy with Gruenebaum on the ground. The consensus was that the first half was dominated by Chivas USA.
The second half would be defined by the Crew's reaction to falling behind. Midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo led an energized Crew offense out of the locker room. Columbus looked to score in the 53rd minute, but Thornton made a strong move to deflect a shot by a streaking Alejandro Moreno.
All of the Crew's frustration came to an end with an unbelievable goal by Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the 61st minute. Gruenebaum, who gave up an earlier goal, earned the rare assist for a goalkeeper. Momentum clearly swung in the Crew's favor after that point as they put the pressure on the Chivas defense. The Crew exhibited their dominance, especially in the area of shots taken.
Schelotto earned his reputation as a "magician with the ball" in the 87th minute with yet another spectacular goal. This would put Schelotto in the league lead with 10 so far this season. It would also seal the victory and send the Crew upward in the Eastern Conference standings.
Everyone agreed that the Crew have regained their form as defending MLS Cup Champions. Many recognized the importance of the match, particularly Frankie Hejduk, who shared his opinions after the game. "As an outsider looking in, it was a 'hump' game. We're at home, it's in midseason, against one of the best teams of league. Which way are we going to show everyone that the season is going? I think it showed tonight which way it is going for us." Hejduk downplayed the impact of his injury on the team when he said "I think tonight showed the depth of the team. We are going to need that. It is going to come in August when we play Saprissa and Cruz Azul."
No one failed to recognize the magnificient play of Schelotto, even Chivas USA Head Coach Preki. "The guy is all over the field. He's crafty. We talked about it: make sure that we didn't give him those moments. Good players always find those moments."
Columbus looks to continue their winning ways on the road against FC Dallas on Saturday June 20. Dallas, led by forwards Kenny Cooper and Jeff Cunningham, is currently 2-7-4 in the standings.
Crew Defeats Wizards to Extend Unbeaten Streak to Eight Games
KANSAS CITY, KS - June 6, 2009 - The Columbus Crew extended its unbeaten streak to eight games Saturday with a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Reigning MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto provided both of the Crew's goals in the match, the first of which came in the 14th minute when Kansas City defenders Aaron Hohlbein and Jimmy Conrad collided with goalkeeper Kevin Hartman at the top of the penalty box as Hartman attempted to corral the ball. Schelotto, who was providing pressure on the play, secured the loose ball and tapped it into the empty net for the eventual game-winner.
The Crew was faced with adversity in the 51st minute when defender Chad Marshall was sent off by referee Baldomero Toledo after a serious foul play on Hohlbein.
The Black & Gold responded with its second goal of the match in the 64th minute when Eddie Gaven was brought down by Wizards defender Matt Besler just inside the penalty box and Toledo immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Schelotto stepped to the spot and calmly deposited the ball past Hartman for his league-leading eighth goal and his second of the night.