The View from Our Crew

Crew Upset by Kickers in USOC

COLUMBUS, OH - June 28, 2011 - Cole Grossman’s first professional goal was not enough to propel the Crew into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals. Matthew Delicâte scored on a diving header in the 85th minute to lift the Richmond Kickers to a 2-1 upset of 10-man Columbus in a Round of 16 match Tuesday at Crew Stadium.

Richmond, of the USL Pro league, broke through first on a 20th minute strike by Nozomi Hiroyama. Former Crew forward Stanley Nyazamba started the scoring play for Richmond by shoving Dejan Rusmir off the ball and spotting Hiroyama near the top left of the penalty area. Hiroyama did the rest, curling a shot into the far upper netting from the top-left corner of the box.

Columbus equalized when Grossman completed a six-pass sequence after receiving a terrific ball from Justin Meram in the 37th minute. Grossman and Meram were among five rookies in the starting lineup for the Crew. The others were right back Korey Veeder, central defender Eric Gehrig and right midfielder Santiago Prim.

There was a veteran presence as well. Andy Gruenebaum, who backstopped the Crew to the final last season, was in goal while O’Rourke made his season debut after undergoing knee surgery in November. He was at left back until being sent off in the 67th minute for a retaliation foul on Ryan Heins.

The winner came off a perfect 35-yard pass from second-half substitute Edson Elcock to a diving Delicâte, who placed the ball into the upper-right netting from 6-yards out.

The Crew had a chance to tie on the final play of the game, when Bernardo Anor’s corner kick found the head of Tommy Heinemann. The ball appeared to deflect off the shoulders of both Delicâte and teammate Henry Kalungi on the goal line, but the Crew’s appeals for a handball were unsuccessful as the whistle sounded.

Now in its 97th year, the U.S. Open Cup has been contested since 1914 and is open to all teams at the pro and amateur levels. It was renamed in honor of Crew Founder Lamar Hunt in 1999. The Crew won the Open Cup in 2002 and was the runner-up in two other occasions. In 1998, the Black and Gold lost 2-1 in overtime to the Chicago Fire and in 2010 the Crew was defeated by the Seattle Sounders 2-1.

Crew Continue to Roll

COLUMBUS, OH - June 26, 2011 - Tommy Heinemann scored his first MLS goal and Andres Mendoza continued his hot scoring with goals in each half as the Crew rolled over the Colorado Rapids, 4-1, Sunday at Crew Stadium.

After Conor Casey staked the visitors to an early lead, Eddie Gaven leveled the score before Mendoza put the Crew ahead for good in the 18th minute. The Peruvian striker made it 3-1 in the 48th minute while the Rapids struggled after Casey was ejected in the first half.

Heinemann capped the scoring in the 57th minute with a one-timed left-footed effort. The win moves the Crew (6-4-6, 24 points) into second in the Eastern Conference, two points back of Philadelphia with their largest output since a 4-0 win against New England on Sept. 6, 2008.

Down 2-1 in the 29th minute, the situation got worse for the Rapids with Casey’s sending off. The forward got around defender Josh Gardner and lunged recklessly for a 50-50 ball near the right post as Hesmer went to the ground. Casey’s knee slid into the left jaw of Hesmer.

Although the Rapids brought on Jamaican striker Omar Cummings for his first action since May 4, there was no denying the Crew after the break.

Dynamo Downed by Crew in Dominating Fashion

HOUSTON, TX - June 18, 2011 - The Houston Dynamo fell to a 2-0 home defeat to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night, slipping to fourth place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, New York, and Columbus. Crew rookie Bernardo Anor had a goal and an assist in his first career start to key the Columbus win.

After the Dynamo had two early chances stopped by Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer, the Crew took the lead before halftime. Bernardo Anor won the ball near midfield, dribbled into the attacking half, and slipped a pass through for forward Andres Mendoza, who converted his chance from the top of the penalty area for his fifth goal of the season.

Houston came out attacking after halftime but faced an uphill challenge after midfielder Lovel Palmer was ejected in the 52nd minute for his second yellow card. It was Palmer’s third red card in 40 career MLS starts and the first time he has come out of a game this season.

The Dynamo responded well to the one-man disadvantage, controlling possession and creating several good scoring chances. In the 60th minute, first Will Bruin and then Brad Davis ripped left-footed shots on goal that were palmed away by Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer.

Columbus then put the game away on the counterattack in the 77th minute, as substitute Justin Meram broke into the penalty area and reached the right side of the end line before crossing to the back post for Bernardo Anor. His initial shot was stopped by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, but Anor converted the rebound for his first professional goal.

Houston had one more great chance to score in stoppage time, but Brian Ching’s goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Julius James.

Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis made the 200th regular season start of his MLS career, becoming the 50th player in Major League Soccer history to reach that milestone. Forward Brian Ching made his second straight appearance as a substitute, playing in his 150th career game for the Dynamo in all competitions.

Due to injury and national team duty, the Dynamo played without forward Calen Carr (concussion); midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica); and defenders Eddie Robinson (MCL sprain) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica).

Crew Get Burnt by the Fire

COLUMBUS, OH - June 12, 2011 - The Columbus Crew fell 1-0 to the visiting Chicago Fire (2-4-8) in heartbreaking fashion thanks to a Cristian Nazarit goal in stoppage time.

The Crew (4-4-6) struggled to find any sort of rhythm early, but luckily they weren't the only ones. There were a combined 0 shots on goal in the first half coupled with a total of 14 fouls and 0 saves. The best moments for the Crew attack came in the first moments of the match with Eddie Gaven's shot in the second minute. Gaven launched a shot wide left from the middle of the box, which was followed by a combination play from Josh Gardner and Andres Mendoza.

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Jr.The well then went dry offensively for both clubs until halftime. Chicago would wield an edge in corner kicks (3 to 0) and shots (5 to 3) while Columbus led only in the unfortunate category of offsides (2 to 1).

The Fire appeared to have more energy and creativity going into the second half. Crew keeper Will Hesmer was kept quite busy as Chicago launched a barrage of 13 shots, 5 of which were on frame. His counterpart, Chicago's Sean Johnson did not feel too threatened considering he did not face a shot on goal the entire night from the home team.

It appeared that the game was headed for a scoreless draw until stoppage time rolled around. The Fire began an aggressive push into Crew territory a minute into extra time with striker Orr Barrouch, a second half substitute, leading the charge. Barrouch muscled past Gardner and Julius James, slipping a shot between the legs of Chad Marshall.

Hesmer would knock the ball away, but it would be rebounded by Nazarit, who scored his first MLS goal. It was a major moment for the Fire, ending their winless streak of 11 games and handing the Crew their first home loss of the season.

"Too many guys had a bad day today, at once," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha stated in a postgame press conference.

Hesmer agreed. "There are going to be nights when your touch is off and you're not hitting on all cylinders. But when that happens somebody's got to step up and take control of the game. We didn't have that."

Thankfully it was also a night of positive milestones for Crew players. Michigan grad Justin Meram made his first MLS start, while striker and Crew legend Jeff Cunningham made his 115th start for Columbus. Rookie midfielder Eric Gehrig made his second appearance in the Crew's final 18.

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Crew Rallies to Beat RSL in Dramatic Fashion

COLUMBUS, OH - June 8, 2011 - Josh Gardner’s first goal in a Crew uniform propelled Columbus to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake Wednesday at Crew Stadium. The Crew remained unbeaten at home (4-0-3) and improved to 4-3-6 overall. 

Gardner gave the Crew the lead in the 82nd minute when his shot from 22 yards hit the left thigh of RSL defender Chris Schuler then ricocheted past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

RSL (6-3-2) had yielded only one goal in its previous four games and took a 1-0 lead on the strength of a Jamison Olave goal off a Nelson Gonzalez corner kick in the 7th minute. They held the one-goal advantage for nearly 70 minutes, but the Crew got the equalizer in the 76th minute on a penalty kick by Andres Mendoza after Justin Meram was tripped by Olave in the box. Mendoza buried his left-footed shot with authority into the upper-right corner. 

Real Salt Lake was denied an equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time when William Hesmer made a spectacular save on a Tony Beltran heel flick. 

Jeff Cunningham, who started at forward, had two good opportunities to score. The first came in the 20th minute, but a cross deep into the box from Emmanuel Ekpo hit his thigh and trickled to goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Then his 60th-minute header hit the crossbar.

Crew defender Josh Williams showed remorse for his violation of the league's substance abuse policy, which was announced prior to the match. “I take full responsibility for my actions and for what I put in my body, and I sincerely apologize to my coaches, teammates and the organization. I was devastated to learn that an honest mistake caused me to test positive for a banned substance. But as a professional athlete, I should have been more diligent in considering what I ingested. I hope others can learn from my mistake.”

The Akron, Ohio native received a 10 game suspension and a fine equal to 10% of his annual salary. Williams mistakenly took a banned substance while consuming an over-the-counter nutritional supplement purchased at a national chain store.

Rookies Save the Day

HARRISON, NJ - June 4, 2011 - The Columbus Crew (3-3-6, 15 pts.) drew the New York Red Bulls (4-2-7, 19 pts.) 1-1 in thrilling fashion at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night. Defender Rich Balchan responded to an early goal by Mehdi Ballouchy with a well placed one-touch in stoppage time for his first ever professional goal. Forward Justin Meram assisted on the goal recording his first MLS point.

It only took nine minutes for the Red Bulls to get on the board. Red Bulls forward Luke Rodgers took received a long pass from defender Jan Gunnar Solli and played the ball to an oncoming Ballouchy who slotted it into the bottom left corner of the net.

The Crew responded with a bicycle kick by Julius James in the 18th minute only to see the ball go out wide. In the 24th minute Eddie Gaven also had a good look when he tried to chip the ball over New York goalkeeper Greg Sutton sending it a little too high. The half ended with the home team leading 1-0 but not before an attempted cross by Jeff Cunningham – who entered in the 41st minute to replace an injured Tommy Heinemann – only to see Sutton reach the ball before Andres Mendoza. 

The second half began with Crew not wanting to let up and trying to get the equalizer. A Gaven rocket from 40 yards out, in the 58th minute, was tipped over the crossbar and a few minutes later a header by Cunningham was called offsides. New York continued to attack looking for an insurance goal but William Hesmer -- who recorded four saves – and the Crew defense deftly shut down the Luke Rodgers/Thierry Henry combination.

The equalizer finally came in stoppage time with Meram making a run down the left side of the field and crossing the ball into the box to an open Balchan who one-timed it into the back of the net fixing the result at 1-1.

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