The View from Our Crew

Crew Crash Out of Playoffs as Rapids Move on to Face Sporting KC

COMMERCE CITY, CO - October 27, 2011 - The Colorado Rapids earned a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Thursday night, and will host Sporting Kansas City in the first leg of the home-and-home Conference Semifinal series this Sunday, October 30 at 5:30 p.m. MT at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. An Omar Cummings goal just before halftime was the difference in the match as the Rapids continue their quest to repeat as MLS Cup Champions. 

The Rapids now turn their focus to defeating Sporting KC, which finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 13-9-12 record. The Crew face another uncertain offseason where players will likely be lost in the Expansion Draft and new young talent will be added through the SuperDraft.

Chicago Fire Clip Columbus Crew 3-2 in Season Finale

CHICAGO, IL - October 22, 2011 - The Chicago Fire (9-9-16, 43 points) used a first half brace from rookie Jalil Anibaba before two Crew goals inside six minutes set the scene and Diego Chaves’ dramatic 80th minute winner catapulted the Fire to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew in the Fire’s finale Saturday night at Toyota Park.

The Fire closed out the season strong, winning seven of their last 10 matches, and remain unbeaten against the Crew in their last seven visits to Toyota Park, going 3-0-4 since 2007. Looking to finish the 2011 campaign strong, the Fire put their stamp on the match, winning multiple dead-ball opportunities close to the Crew goal. The home side broke through in the 11th minute off a cleared corner kick when a deflected shot from winger Patrick Nyarko fell to the feet of Pavel Pardo. The Mexican international sent a looping ball back into the penalty area, finding the head of Jalil Anibaba who glanced his header past William Hesmer to record his first career MLS goal. The Fire rookie tallied a dream brace on the half-hour mark as a similar sequence saw Cory Gibbs send in a driven cross to the top of the Fire penalty area where the first-year defender tucked a looping header over Hesmer and inside the back post to give the Fire a 2-0 lead in the 30th minute.

The Crew nearly pulled one back four minutes later as defender Josh Gardner collected the ball on the left before whipping in a cross to the near post for Andres Mendoza but the Peruvian striker’s headed effort went just wide of Johnson’s goal, taking the Fire into the half up 2-0. After the break, the visitors continued their attempts to cut into the Fire lead and came close in the 67th minute as a seemingly deliberate buildup eventually saw midfielder Dilly Duka fire a swerving blast from outside the penalty area. The effort caught Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson on the wrong foot, but the athletic keeper recovered to make a kick save to keep the lead intact.

Columbus finally broke through six minutes later when Eddie Gaven connected with Emilio Renteria. Driving down the right, the bearded midfielder whipped in a low ball that the Venezuelan met with a half-bicycle kick, smashing his effort past Johnson in the 73rd minute. Playing with more confidence after the first goal, Columbus equalized six minutes later as substitute striker Jeff Cunningham sent in a hopeful cross that found Anibaba. The Fire defender misplayed his clearance and the ball fell to Duka who finished past Johnson from close range to knot the score at 2-2 in the 79th minute.

The deadlock lasted only a minute as the Fire caught the visitors pushing for the winner. Guatemalan international Marco Pappa collected the ball at midfield before hitting a perfect ball into the path of the speedy Dominic Oduro. The fleet Ghanaian drove into the penalty area, hitting a low effort that Hesmer did well to save but for the second straight week, Diego Chaves was there to finish the opportunity in the 80th minute, giving the Fire a 3-2 victory to close out the season. 

Crew Race into the Playoffs

FOXBOROUGH, MA - October 15, 2011 - Andres Mendoza scored a pair of goals – sandwiched around the first career tally for Dilly Duka – as the Columbus Crew rolled to a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

The Crew (13-12-8, 47 pts.) clinched a spot in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs with the victory, while the Revs (5-16-12, 27 pts.) suffered their fifth straight loss in what was their home finale. Mendoza scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 31st minute to give the visitors a halftime lead, while a Duka goal and a second strike from Mendoza added to the Crew’s advantage in the second half.

Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth earned his second straight start between the pipes with Matt Reis still nursing a right hamstring strain, while Franco Coria replaced Ryan Cochrane in central defense to mark the only change from the Revolution lineup which suffered a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend. Both sides created a series of half chances in the early stages, but the Crew came closest to opening the scoring in the 27th minute. Mendoza used a clever pullback to create space for himself in the box before firing just wide of the left post with a quickly-executed toe poke. Mendoza found more success four minutes later, making the breakthrough in the 31st minute to give the Crew a 1-0 lead. Emilio Renteria rose to flick a long pass into the path of Mendoza, who eluded the challenge of Darrius Barnes before blasting a left-footed drive past the right hand of Shuttleworth.

The Revs responded well and almost equalized immediately, but Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer did well to react quickly and kick away Milton Caraglio’s deflected long-range effort. Columbus doubled its advantage to 2-0 in the 59th minute when Duka notched his first career goal. Duka corralled a half clearance 25 yards out before dribbling into the left side of the box and finishing low back across the face of goal and inside the right post.

It took just four more minutes for the Crew to extend its lead to 3-0 as Mendoza grabbed his second goal in the 63rd minute. Sebastian Miranda began the scoring sequence with a long pass down the right wing for Renteria, who delivered a cross to Mendoza at the back post. Mendoza made no mistake with his first-time effort, blasting a left-footed shot into the near upper corner. New England responded by making a pair of substitutions in the 68th minute, bringing on forwards Rajko Lekic and Zack Schilawski in place of Monsef Zerka and Caraglio, but the Revolution’s best chance – an 85th-minute free kick from Chris Tierney – was easily saved by Hesmer.

The Revs will close out the 2011 season next weekend when they travel north of the border for an Eastern Conference clash with Toronto FC on Saturday, Oct. 22. An afternoon kickoff from BMO Field is set for 12:30 p.m. ET. 

Gaven Saves the Day and Perhaps the Season

COLUMBUS, OH - October 2, 2011 - Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven returned to the Columbus lineup after an eight game absence to lead the Crew to a critical 2-1 win over D.C. United Sunday afternoon at Crew Stadium.

Photo Credit: Robert IvoryUnited took an early1-0 lead, but second half goals on an own goal and a incredible diving header by Gaven gave the Crew their first win since a 2-1 decision over Philadelphia (Aug 20). Columbus were determined to get off their winless slide (one point in six matches) as they came out and pressed for the first goal.

“We were pushing for the goal early, but it just did not happen,” Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. “It’s important to score when you have the momentum.”

Although the Crew had the early momentum, it was a free kick in the 37th minute that put them behind. United defender Daniel Woolard got on the end of a Dwayne De Rosario free kick and was unmarked as he knocked in the first goal.

United would hold on to the goal and went into the break leading 1-0.

“We came in at the half and challenged guys,” Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer said. “If you want to be a championship team, now’s the time, there’s no more time to mess around.”

As exciting as Woolard’s tally in the first was, he was definitely not happy with his second goal of the day. After Andres Mendoza possessed the ball in the box for the Crew, the ball pinballed around the box, eventually falling to Woolard’s foot, which bounced backwards and into United’s net. The own goal tied the game up after just two minutes of soccer after the break.

“I knew that some way or somehow we were going to find the game winner,” Gaven said after the game.

After missing the last eight games with a leg injury, Gaven knocked home the Crew’s game winner with half an hour to play. Chilean defender Sebastian Miranda put a cross into the box from the right side. Gaven overran the cross, but put his head to the ball and scored on the diving header.

“I was going to use my foot, but I dove at the ball, closed my eyes, and prayed for the best,” Gaven continued.

Gaven’s fifth goal of the year gave Crew fans a breath of fresh air as Columbus defended well in the last half an hour, along with some great goalkeeping by Hesmer to preserve the much needed three points.

“This is definetely a big win for us,” Gaven added.

The Crew now are 12-12-8, while United fall to 9-10-11.

The much needed three points balloon the Crew into a tie with the Philadelphia for second place in the Conference, but just a point ahead of the Houston Dynamo. The Crew end their season on the road with matches in New England and Chicago.

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