The View from Our Crew

Crew Fall in Shocking 2-1 Defeat to DDL

COLUMBUS, OH - May 29, 2012 - For the second year in succession the Crew were knocked out by lower league opposition in the US Open Cup. In a game that Columbus dominated from start to finish with 18 shots on goal, wasteful finishing cost them dear. A frantic two minute period in the second half lead to all of Dayton 3 shots with 2 of them producing the decisive goals.

Columbus dominated the first half, with their best opportunity coming from Chris Birchall. His fiercely struck free kick rebounded off the underside of the crossbar setting up Eric Gehrig for a free header that he placed over from 5 yards.

The second half continued in similar fashion, with Columbus finally making the breakthrough courtesy of a 63rd minute penalty. Vargas dispatching the spot kick low to the keeper's right. The Crew were creating chances at will, but were unable to find the goal which would have finished the game off. A poor back pass on 79 minutes let in Dayton down the Crew's left. The ball was centered to Bartels, who applied the finish. With Columbus in shock, Dayton’s very next attack produced a second goal again coming from a low cross, this time with Bardsley applying the finish.

The game gave the opportunity to the Crew's fringe players to impress; the busy Birchall was the pick of the Columbus players on show. He impressed with his work rate throughout and the ability to find space around the Dayton box and accurate shooting.

Dayton Dutch Lions Shock The Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - May 29, 2012 - For a team that has yet to win a match in the USL PRO League no one expected the Dayton Dutch Lions to even keep up with a hot Columbus Crew squad. And yet in spite of all the experts the Lions stunned the Columbus Crew 2-1 in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It was the first matchup between two Ohio teams in the modern era of the cup, and the second straight year that Columbus has lost their first match in the tournament.

Goalkeeper Matt Williams played a brilliant first half, saving everything the Crew could muster offensively. Chris Birchall in particular kept putting chance after chance towards to goal for Columbus but was out-dueled by the young keeper from the University of Cincinnati. The fantastic goalie play continued on into the second half as Williams made a great save off of a point blank blast by Justin Meram in the 61st minute.

The perfect defense could not last forever though. In the 63rd minute Shane Smith was called for a handball in the penalty box. Costa Rican striker Olman Vargas took advantage and calmly stepped up to give the Crew the lead 1-0. Columbus continued their onslaught on goal heading into the final 15 minutes of the match, but that’s when things got interesting.

In the 79th minute substitute Gerrit-Jan Bartels scored on a poor pass in the middle third by the Crew which led to an open run and assist for Gibson Bardsley. 2 minutes later, in the 81st, Bardsley did it himself on another poor defensive effort by the Crew putting the Lions up for good. Desperate for another goal Columbus put up a fight to the end but to no avail as Dayton’s defense held strong and kept the Crew out of the back of the net.

“We lost the match,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said when asked about his team’s performance.

It was the 2nd win for Dayton in this year’s U.S. Cup after beating Chicago Fire PDL last week. Next up the Lions will head north to play the Michigan Bucks who upset the Chicago Fire in extra time.

Game Analysis for Columbus Crew v. Chicago Fire

COLUMBUS, OH - May 26, 2012 - Long-time Midwestern rivals, the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire, renewed their acquaintance on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. Coming into the game, these two teams had met 44 total times with the Fire winning almost half of the time (20 wins) and the Crew getting only 11 wins and 13 ties. However today was a different story.

Photo Credit: Robert Ivory/ISNSoccer.com“It’s soccer. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t,” Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas commented.

The Crew came off a strong two-game road trip, leaving Seattle with a 2-0 win. The Fire came into this weekend’s game with a midweek victory, defeating FC Dallas 2-1 at Toyota Park. Both teams came in having similar records (Chicago: 5-3-3 and Columbus: 4-4-3) and were looking to take advantage of moving up in the standings.

Although a couple hundred Chicago Fire supporters made the trip down to Columbus, the Fire found themselves down a goal early due to Eddie Gaven, who scored 9th minute. Gaven received the ball from Shaun Francis on a run down the left flank by the top of the box and ripped the ball beating one defender and goalkeeper Sean Johnson low to his near post. After the goal, the Fire tried to respond quickly with two consecutive corner kicks in the 12th minute and with a majority of the ball possession, but no harm was done. From this point on in the game the Crew continued to dominate the game with the majority of ball possession.

The Chicago Fire dug themselves into more trouble the first half in the 44th when Eddie Gaven crossed it low from the left corner to Emilio Renteria, who spun with the ball on top of the six and finessed it into the top right corner. In the first half, the Crew not only held onto the ball more, but also out-battled the Fire on 50-50 balls.

The Chicago Fire were outplayed by the Columbus Crew, who had 57% ball possession in the first half. Although the Fire only had 2 shots on goal, they were presented with a grand opportunity when Shaun Francis misplayed a back pass and Fire’s Patrick Nyarko stole the ball and had a 1v1 opportunity on goal. Electing to use his dominant foot rather than possibly his left, Nyarko pulled his shot wide left of the goal and no harm was done. This could have been a game changer and a momentum swing had Nyarko equalized, however only 3 minutes later the Crew added on to their lead by scoring their second goal before the halftime whistle.

In the second half, Klopas made two tatical changes bringing on a forward Dominic Oduro for midfielder Marco Pappa and forward Orr Barouch for forward Federico Puppo. The impact of the substitutions was immediately seen as Oduro brought pace upfront, which caused pressure for the Crew backline.

The Fire came out strong and were presented with another opportunity when Tony Tchani played another poor backpass that was intercepted by Dominic Oduro 20 yards out and taken to goal for a 1v1. Again this time Andy Greunbaum came up with a big save deflecting the shot up and over the goal. On the ensuing corner kick Greunbaum had another terriffic save to his upper 90 that glanced off the post. You could see the game turning as the Fire were building up momentum, however the Crew backline would not crack as the Crew started to sit back and counter attack. In the 60th minute Fire’s manager Klopas elected to use his third and final substitution bringing on Daniel Paladini for Logan Pause.

In the 61st minute Columbus Crew’s Dilly Duka received the ball 25 yards out from goal, fired the ball which hit the crossbar and bounced just in front of the goal line and was then rebounded by Fire’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Later, as the Fire were dominating possession and attacking the Crew’s defense, the Fire were finally able to break through and score a goal in the 72nd minute. After a goal line clearance off a corner kick, Fire’s Daniel Paladini crossed the ball back in from the left flank into the box where it was met and headed in by Austin Berry, cutting the deficit in half.

The game had certainly shifted momentum to the Fire, even though they were still down one goal. The Fire were now dominating possession, forcing the Crew to defend on its heels. The Fire proceeded with 12 attempts on goal, however Crew keeper Andy Greunbaum was up for the test racking up 5 saves in the second half.

The Columbus Crew looked to slow the game down in the final 10 minutes by taking their time on set pieces and shielding the ball into the Fire’s corners off of counter attacks. With only 3 minutes of added time, the Fire looked to pump long balls into the box for a last stitch effort, but nothing came of it.

The Columbus Crew won, bringing them level on points in the standings with the Chicago Fire. The Crew came out strong in the first half and had a strong showing from the home side. In the second however, the Fire pressed with a relentless attack and pulling back one goal, but it wasn’t enough.

“In the second half you could see what kind of impact our subs made, but it wasn’t enough,” Klopas stated.

It certainly looked as if the Fire were going to break down the Crew’s backline down and rebound after a slow start, however the ball rolled the Crew’s way this time. You can certainly say that the Crew had plenty of opportunities to put the game away in the second half with their counter attacks, but because of not being able to succeed in putting the game away, the Fire were able to hang around. But, fortunately for the Crew and because of good goalkeeping, The Crew were able to escape a second half surge and come away with the victory.

Stats: The Fire had 16 attempts on goal (12 in the second half) and 8 on target (6 in the second half), while the Crew 14 attempts on goal (7 in both halves) and 5 shots on target. Possession was split 52% - 48%, respectably Crew and Fire. Both teams used all three allotted subs for tactical changes.  

Total Attendance: 16,024

Complete Play-By-Play

Crew Beat Fire 2-1

In a stretch that has been dominated by the Crew youngsters, it was the familiar faces who gave the team a 2-1 win over Chicago, the 2nd straight for a revitalized Columbus squad.

Photo Credit: Robert Ivory/ISNSoccer.comIn the 9th minute Eddie Gaven received a pass from Shaun Francis at the top of the box and saw a small opening in the left corner of the goal. That was enough, as the veteran squeezed the shot underneath the diving Fire goalie. It was his third of the season tying him with Justin Meram for the lead.

The teams traded chances back and forth until Gaven again found himself free from his defender. This time though he laid it into teammate Emilio Renteria inside the box. Renteria didn’t let the chance slip away, and blasted the ball into the upper right corner to put the Crew up 2-0.

The Fire struck back midway through the second half as Austin Berry headed the ball past an exhausted Andy Gruenebaum in the 72nd minute. But despite a relentless attack in the second half Chicago could not find the net again.

“It was tight, but we’re a solid defensive team and we did what it took,” Gruenebaum said when asked about the pressure that Chicago placed on the defense.

The story of the match though was Eddie Gaven, his goal in the 9th as well as assist in the 43rd gave the Crew their 3rd win in the last 4 and put them into 5th place in the Eastern division. This is a completely different Columbus squad than earlier in the season when they couldn’t buy a goal. The run has been about efficiency with a very high percentage of the shots on goal scoring.

The win concludes a brutal stretch for the Crew who played 4 matches in two weeks including 3 in the last week. Fortunately for an injury ravaged Columbus team they have time to recover.

The next match for the Crew isn’t for another three weeks away against the New England Revolution.

Sounders Need to Do Some Soul Searching

SEATTLE, WA - May 23, 2012 - In a disappointing display of poor defense and missed chances, the Sounders FC lost at home to the Columbus Crew by a 2-0 margin. Seattle maintained possession for the large majority of the match and tallied at least a dozen shots. Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum was well placed for all of them and stopped two particularly deadly strikes from Fredy Montero.

After winning five straight games, the Sounders FC have not won one in the last three games, opening up the top position in the Western Conference for Real Salt Lake.

“Individual errors,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid stated. “We got to make this streak as short as possible and get out of it.”

Unless my eyes are deceiving me, then the Crew had no more than five shots during the match, two of which were goals. Either they are very good or very lucky.

The first goal came in the 15th minute as Adam Johansson failed to properly mark Justin Meram, who flashed from the far post to the near for an easy header. There was nothing Bryan Meredith could do to stop the well-timed run, assist, and header. Credit the goal to a lack of defensive positioning.

Following their first goal, the Crew proceeded to waste copious amounts of time laying on the ground and rolling around like a turtle on its back. While there is a definite strategy to wasting time when your team has the lead, the league needs to draw a boundary. Save the drama for the Italian league for all our sakes.

Near the end of the first half, Osvaldo Alonso chipped a ball to the far post for a wide open Alvaro Fernandez. With five feet to choose from on either side of the keeper, Fernandez decided to direct the ball completely off target. Eddie Johnson also had a few chances to score, but took one too many touches or was off balance. My opinion: Johnson is overrated; Seattle would be better off with the quick and nimble Michael Fucito up front.

The second goal for the Crew came in the 76th minute. A throw in was bouncing in between Emilio Renteria and several Sounders players. Renteria was perfectly poised for a volley off the bouncing ball from thirty yards out. Meredith was a few too many yards off of the line and was able to high-five the ball as it sailed into the net.

“You can't get caught off your line,” Schmid added. “Right now we're just making individual errors, and those individual errors are costing us, and people are punishing us for them.”

The Crew return home to Ohio to face the Chicago Fire on May 26, while the Sounders head to California to face Chivas USA on the same date. 

Crew Land Historic Win in Seattle

SEATTLE, WA - May 23, 2012 - The Columbus Crew earned a historic 2-0 win on Wednesday night by defeating the Seattle Sounders for the first time in club history at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night. Justin Meram netted his third consecutive goal while Emilio Renteria tallied his first of the season as the Black & Gold jumped two spots in the Eastern Conference standings to take sole possession of fifth place. Andy Gruenebaum recorded six saves to earn his tenth career shutout.

Gruenebaum’s first save of the evening came in the 10th minute when he calmly collected a shot from Osvaldo Alonso after deflecting one by Sounders’ leading scorer Fredy Montero just seconds earlier.

The first goal of the match came five minutes later when Meram got behind the defense on the left side and headed home a perfect cross from Dilly Duka to take the lead.

As the half wore on, the Crew allowed Seattle to keep most of the possession defending well and making it difficult for the home team to create chances in the final third.

Sounders FC continued to attack in the second half but the Black & Gold matched their intensity and never let up. Gruenebaum came up big again deflecting a point blank Montero shot in the 51st minute and saving another one by the Colombian striker five minutes later.

With 15 minutes left to play Renteria added the insurance tally after taking control of a loose ball 30 yards out, and volleying it over Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith who had come off his line.

Sounders FC continued to lay siege to the Black & Gold’s goal but back-to-back stoppage time saves by Gruenebaum preserved the shutout giving the Crew an important three points.

Meram and Gruenebaum Star in Road Draw

SANTA CLARA, CA - May 19, 2012 - The Crew came away with a point after drawing the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday Night. Justin Meram scored his second goal in as many games to give the Black & Gold the lead after keeper Andy Gruenebaum stopped a penalty shot from Chris Wondolowski. Earthquakes second-half substitute Alan Gordon scored a 90th minute equalizer as San Jose rallied late to deny the Crew the shutout.

It was a very intense match from the get-go as both teams wanted to show their dominance on the field. In the seventh minute Gruenebaum made the first of his career-high seven saves by smothering a laser-strike by Quakes midfielder Simon Dawkins.

In the 21st minute defender Eric Gehrig was called for a foul on Steven Lenhart inside the box and San Jose was awarded a shot from the penalty spot. Wondolowski took the shot but Gruenebaum made himself big and was able to deflect the ball.

Dawkins tested Gruenebaum again in the 26th and 29th minutes but the Crew goalie was deft to save both chances. The Crew began to find its rhythm and came close to scoring in the 34th with a shot by Tony Tchani and again in the 43rd with a nice low cross by Eddie Gaven that barely missed Meram’s feet.

The Black & Gold took the lead in the waning moments of the first half when Tony Tchani played the ball to Meram on the left side of the box. The second-year forward faked Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour and then chipped the ball far post over San Jose ‘keeper Jon Busch and into the back of the net.

The Crew continued to attack with the same intensity in the second half but Tchani’s strike in the 54th and Meram’s rocket from distance a minute later both went barely wide.

San Jose tried to respond in the 74th with a dangerous attempt by Gordon, but the linesman raised his flag calling him offside. The Earthquakes continued to rally in front of the Crew goal in the last few minutes of the match and finally got an equalizer in the 90th as Gordon picked up a rebound of a crossbar and was able to beat Gruenebaum for the 1-1 draw and the hard-fought point.

Crew Find Winning Ways at Home

COLUMBUS, OH - May 12, 2012 - Justin Meram and Sebastian Miranda registered goals as the Columbus Crew defeated FC Dallas (3-6-3) by a 2-1 margin.

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr./ISNSoccer.comThe first half was a tale of inconsistency. The home team came out strong to start the game, but quickly found Dallas in control. Fabian Castillo struck first in the 22nd minute, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Castillo was able to get by Crew midfielder Tony Tchani and slot one past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.

The Crew (3-4-2) limped into the locker room at the half as physical play continued for both sides. Former Michigan forward Justin Meram was a huge spark for the Crew O, but it was a red card in the 63rd that was a gamechanger in the mind of some.

"The red card is what changed the game," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha stated. "After the red card they just bunkered in and we created chances and scored two goals,"

The card put FC Dallas a man down and made them susceptible to the advancing Columbus attack.

Meram scored his first career MLS goal four minutes later with defender Eric Gehrig setting up the play and claiming the assist. Meram slid and then rolled in front of the Nordecke, celebrating an important moment in his career and an end to the Crew's scoring drought.

"I picked my head up and saw an opening," Meram commented. "I took a shot and luckily it went in."

Miranda would land a header in the 72nd off a corner kick, giving Columbus a 2-1 lead. The Crew were then able to hold on, creating further opportunities offensively and staying strong defensively.

"Josh (Williams) was a beast today in the back," Warzycha continued. "He was winning every header and his passing was good. His performance was very good."

The win gave Columbus some much needed momentum going into a grueling road trip to the West Coast that includes matches at San Jose and Seattle.

"We're starting to turn that corner," Crew defender Eric Gehrig declared. "Bounces are starting to go our way. On the road, we know we are in for a dogfight. That's what we do. We're down for the dirty work."

Match Photos

Crew Back on Track with Home Win

COLUMBUS, OH - May 12, 2012 - A 2-1 win by Columbus over FC Dallas was a welcome site to the Crew who had been inept on offense the past two matches.

In the 67th minute Justin Meram finally ended the Crew’s offensive woes. A few minutes later Sebastian Miranda followed suit and put in a rocket of a header from outside the box. Before that it had been almost 2 ½ games worth of playing time since the Crew’s last goal.

The Dallas defense took a blow when Zach Lloyd picked up his second yellow card of the match in the 62nd minute giving Columbus the man advantage.  Fatigue also played a factor as the tired Dallas strikers could not put together any semblance of an attack after the half.

Going into half time the Crew looked lost. Fabian Castillo scored the first goal of the match for Dallas when midfielder Tony Tchani let him by. In the 22nd minute Tchani was guarding Castillo on the left sideline but stopped when the ball teetered on the out of bounds line, opening the door for Dallas’ first goal in over 200 minutes as well.

The substitution of Meram late in the first half seemed to give the team the spark they needed. The win was the first for the Crew in 5 games and 3rd of the season.

“We needed something with the slide we’re in,” Crew defender Josh Williams said.

Despite the win injures continue to be a huge problem. In the 44th minute forward Ethan Finlay went down with concussion-like symptoms after an elbow by Andrew Jacobson. It wasn’t the only elbow thrown as the two teams played rough all night. The injury to Finlay is the 12th on the roster and leaves the Crew very weak in the long run at striker.

When asked about the offensive struggles of the team, Crew striker Justin Meram responded, “We needed something; finally we got that monkey off our shoulders.”

Next up the Crew head out west to face first place San Jose in the first of a two game road trip.

Crew Battles Portland to a Draw

PORTLAND, OR - May 5, 2012 - The Columbus Crew battled the Portland Timbers to a scoreless draw at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Ore., on Saturday night, in a hard-fought, physical match. Both teams, in need of the three points, created several chances but were unable to capitalize on them.

The match began with very high intensity and with the Timbers trying to get on the board early. A shot by Portland forward Darlington Nagbe in the 11th minute was deflected by Andy Gruenebaum and another one in the 20th, by Rodney Wallace, was deftly saved by the Crew’s netminder.

The first clear chance for the Crew came in the 27th minute on a cross by Nemanja Vukovic that found Milovan Mirosevic’s head but got deflected into corner. On the ensuing play, Josh Williams saw a shot deflected back to him but the ball finished wide into the side netting.

In the 38th minute the Crew was on the receiving end of consecutive free kicks with Gruenebaum coming off his line to punch the first one and deflecting the second one.

The second half began with the same strong intensity and with the Timbers attempting to draw first blood, with a shot by the ubiquitous Nagbe, that went wide to the right of the Crew’s goal. Ten minutes later Timbers forward Kris Boyd saw his free kick from the top of the box glide above the crossbar.

The Crew again picked up the tempo looking for the elusive tally. Eddie Gaven found himself carrying the ball all the way up the middle of the field and handing it off to Tony Tchani who saw his shot sail into the stands in the 62nd minute.

In the 66th Vukovic sent a short corner kick to Gaven who returned the ball back to him. The Montenegrin crossed it to the far post finding Williams who headed it into the arms of Portland goalie Troy Perkins.

Both teams continued to battle until the final whistle but to no avail and the Crew came away with an important road point thanks to impeccable play by Gruenebaum and the back line.

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