The View from Our Crew

Seconds From Moving On, Crew Party Put On Hold

COLUMBUS, OH - September 29, 2009 - The champagne was ready to be popped. The Crew were merely seconds from moving onto the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League. But then a very late header from the Costa Rican side, Saprissa, put all the party plans on hold. For now.

The Columbus Crew drew 1-1 with Saprissa Tuesday night at Crew stadium on a brutally cold night in the heart of Ohio. The Crew had a chance to secure a next round date with a win against their Group C opponent, but managed only a point on a night that was filled with Columbus chances.

“The guys are disappointed because we gave up the goal in the last minute, but we still have a chance. All we need is a tie in Puerto Rico,” Crew manager Robert Warzycha said after the late Saprissa equalizer.

The first real chance for the Crew came in the 19th minute of the game when Alejandro Moreno stretched out his leg to pass the ball to a cutting Robbie Rogers down the wing. Rogers took the ball, crossed it into the box, but Moreno on the return pass headed the ball well high and wide of the goal.

The Crew’s opponent from Central America struggled to get their pace from the get go, noting that the cold, breezy mid Ohio autumn weather played a major role in their preparation for the game. The team with white road jerseys all sported long undershirts under their jerseys, including gloves to match. As the two teams in Columbus, OH kicked off to 50 degree temperatures, the small Latin American country bathed in 75 degree temps.

“For us, it’s too cold,” Saprissa manager Jeaustin Campos said after the 1-1 draw. “We are not playing many games in the winter, we tried to stay warm as much as we could, but its two separate things; the football and the weather and field conditions. It’s important what happens inside the field.”

On the field, the temperature was looked at differently by the native Costa Rican players. “The temperature was low and of course it affects the game, but we were able to perform even as low as the temperature was,” forward Armando Alonso said through a translator after the match.

The Crew went ahead in the 27th minute when Robbie Rogers put a penalty past the Costa Rican goaltender, Keilor Navas. The Crew pressed hard to get their first goal when Guillermo Barros Schelotto was fouled harshly in the box by Saprissa midfielder and captain, Walter Centeno.

Schelotto dribbled the ball into the box and was greeted with a studs up tackle, which referee Mauricio Morales saw and awarded the Crew with the penalty. Centeno was given a caution, but the foul looked like it could have merited a red card.  Schelotto, who normally takes the Crew’s PKs, drew blood from the challenge and had to leave the field to get it cleaned up, as per the rules of the game suggest.

The Crew petitioned to get their leading goal scorer back on the field after he got it cleaned, but the referee did not let the forward to return to take the penalty. Therefore, Robbie Rogers took it and put a right footed shot into the left hand corner of the net, beating a diving Navas, who guessed the wrong corner. The Crew went up 1-0 and looked ever closer to the next round.

“I think Robbie felt that he could take it and score,” Warzycha said about the penalty. “It’s difficult for the coach to point who to take it, it’s good that he took it and scored.

Immediately after the penalty, the Crew pushed for a second goal with several chances coming from the foot and head of Rogers. In the 32nd minute, the Crew midfielder came down the wing, got an unmarked left footed shot on net, but was right to the keeper’s hands. His chance in the 42nd minute was probably his best chance for his second goal when he received a cross from Crew defender and Captain Frankie Hejduk in the box, but put the sure goal, wide right with his head. Saprissa had only a few chances in the first half including a worrying flick on by Waston from a Saprissa free kick, but he pushed the ball just wide of the target.

The Crew had a barrage of chances to put the game away in the first half, but was unable to do so despite putting nine shots on net (two of which were on target). However, the MLS side still led 1-0 at the half and looked to have their destiny of moving on in their own hands.

It was Rogers again that had a chance to put the match away with a second goal in the second half, but when he could not handle an Emmanuel Ekpo cross to his feet, hope was lost for more room between them a Saprissa. Ekpo had problems of his own later as he dribbled into the box, took a left footed shot but was saved nicely by the feet of Navas. Emmanuel had a chance to head the ball in on the rebound, but was wide. The Crew had many opportunities to go two goals ahead, but it remained a one goal game in the later stages of the match.

Saprissa came inches wide to getting their first goal, or at least a penalty, when midfielder Douglas Sequeria beat Adam Moffat on a corner kick and had a clear header towards the net.

The ball deflected off of the thigh of Crew defender Gino Padula, who was covering near post, then into the hands of Crew goalie Will Hesmer. The Costa Rican side was appealing for a hand in the box, as between the deflection off the leg and into Hesmer hands, the ball looked to knick off Padula’s right hand. Replays would show that the ball did just graze off the hand, but not enough to warrant a crucial penalty kick for Saprissa.

All looked won for the Crew heading into the extra time with only a few minutes to go before the end whistle and a trip to the next round. The Crew had their chance to put the final nail in the coffin, but all looked well with only that small time remaining.

Saprissa, still fighting for the second and final qualifying spot in the group, got their equalizer in the 92+ minute of play off a free kick more than 30 yards out. Centeno put a wonderful cross into the box and found the head of Alexander Robinson. Robinson pushed over Brian Carroll in the box, creating the space he needed, and was able to bounce a ball though the legs of Crew goalie Will Hesmer for the 1-1 score line.

“I think we created some chances and could have been up 2-0, but that the beauty of the game. Sometimes it does not matter how many chances you create, it about how many goals you score and you have to play to the last whistle,” the Crew boss said.

All is not lost for the Crew in their bid for the later stages of the tournament.

“You win games, you lose games. We have scored goals in the 90th minute before to win and tie games,” Crew midfielder Adam Moffat said after the devastating tie. “We’re still good and we are still not out.”

As physical as the game was, 45 fouls and six yellow cards, the Crew were almost able to hold on to their one goal advantage, despite being unable to put the dagger into the Costa Rican side. The Crew now sit on seven points, leading the trailing Costa Rican side by only two points going into the last game of the round.

The Crew will head to Puerto Rico (beating them 2-0 in Columbus) on October 20th needing only a point to move on, while Saprissa take on Cruz Azul, the leaders of the group in San Jose.       

Another Big One

COLUMBUS, OH - September 26, 2009 - The best player in Major League Soccer was in Columbus Saturday night. No, we are not talking about David Beckham. He didn't travel with the team, missing the game with right ankle inflammation. We are talking about the captain of the Los Angeles Galaxy and the face of the U.S. Men's National Team, Landon Donovan.

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr. What Beckham missed was a physical, back and forth match between the MLS elite. It proved to be a statement game for the Columbus Crew as they proved why they are the favorites for the Supporters' Shield. Columbus came through with a big victory even without star players Alejandro Moreno, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and Robbie Rogers. All would start on the substitute bench with only Moreno making an appearance in the 69th minute.

Donovan's performance was hampered by an aggressive Crew defense and a lack of support from his Galaxy teammates. "We had too many, too many guys that couldn't make simple plays. Simple passes, simple traps, just simple soccer plays that we didn't pull off tonight," Donovan stated after the match.

"We give them credit, they played hard, they played pretty well. But that is a team we should beat and we know that. It's frustrating," Donovan continued.

The entire match was considerably physical in nature and the slick playing surface made it that more difficult. Los Angeles committed 23 fouls to go along with 3 shots on goal. Columbus would be very active offensively, sending 11 shots toward the Galaxy goal.

Eddie Gaven was able to put the Crew on the board in the 33rd minute with a precise header just inside the post. Emmanuel Ekpo was credited with the assist for setting up the play with a solid cross. Gaven deserves most of the credit as the header came from a very awkward angle. It is clear that Gaven's game has progressed this season and that he has developed a knack for big plays.

Former Crew midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi let the game in the 34th minute with a groin injury; he was replaced by Jovan Kirovski. Halftime would come with the Crew protecting a 1-0 lead. The Galaxy were prepared to make it a fight to the finish. Fight is a good choice of words because no fewer than 7 yellow cards were issued in the second half.

Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena would send in Alan Gordon in relief of promising youngster A.J. DeLaGarza. It didn't do much to improve the L.A. defense or the offensive attack. The Crew continued to impress behind the speed of Venezuelan Emilio Renteria, who caused fits for the Galaxy's backline.

In his first MLS start, Renteria made several plays, including a breakaway in the 59th minute. Defender Eric Brunner started the attack with a rocket clearing that Renteria was able to run onto. Renteria made a move past a Galaxy defender before taking a shot at the goal. Los Angeles keeper Donovan Ricketts, one of the league's best at his position, was able to knock it away. Unfortunately for the Galaxy, Steven Lenhart was there to send the ball in with a light touch.

Los Angeles would try to make up some ground in the final 30 minutes. Arena would make some adjustments, including sending in veteran Eddie Lewis in the 62nd minute. However, he would have little impact on the game.

The match would end with the Crew feeling good about their chances in the postseason. It was another big performance for the club in a big game. The Crew's depth was tested, but each player rose to the challenge. The most impressive aspect of the match was taking Landon Donovan out of his comfort zone. He was under pressure the entire night and was never able to get in a rhythm.

The next matches for both clubs are challenging to say the least. The Galaxy will head home to face the Chicago Fire on Friday, October 2. The Crew will have two difficult home matches against Saprissa (Tuesday, September 29) and Seattle (Saturday, October 3). Facing a CONCACAF Champions League opponent and the U.S. Open Cup Champions in a single week is no easy task.

Cruz Azul Have Crew’s Number, Again

COLUMBUS, OH - September 23, 2009 - Losing is always a tough thing to do. Doing it again is even tougher. For the second time in the Group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Columbus Crew were defeated by Mexican team Cruz Azul. The Crew fell 2-0 Wednesday night at Crew Stadium in Columbus, while Azul moves on into the Championship Round on the tournament.

“Obviously we played a great team,” the Crew’s head coach Robert Warzycha said after the frustrating defeat. “It’s something for us to learn from.”

Both squads had very different lineups from last weekend’s league matches; Cruz Azul had seven different changes and the Crew had four, including the addition of Steven Lenhart up top, Adam Moffat and Eddie Gaven in midfield and Duncan Oughton defending. 

The Crew were almost given a gift in the ninth minute when Azul defender Horacio Cervantes headed a Robbie Rogers centering pass just over the mouth of his own goal, giving the Crew supporters a glimmer of hope for the first goal of the match and getting them a step closer to the next round of the competition.

The advantage, however, would shift to Cruz Azul after sloppy defending by the Columbus back line. After the ball was worked over to the left side, Crew defender Eric Brunner had a tough time clearing the ball from under his feet, deflected it to Azul forward Pablo Zeballos, who dribbled the ball in and put it through Crew goalie Will Hesmer’s legs. Zeballos put the ball in the back of the net and the quite vocal Azul fan base erupted at Crew stadium as the Mexican side led, 1-0 in only 14 minutes of play.

“In the first half I think there was miscommunication (among the Crew back line),” Warzycha noted after the match.

Crew forward Steven Lenhart received a caution in the 34th minute for unsportsmanlike conduct, but tempers really flared in the ensuing moments. While the Crul Azul possessed the ball in the attacking zone, Crew defender Danny O’Rourke recklessly went in, studs up, and caught Azul defender Alejandro Castro. No card was issued, but tempers between the two flared and shoving ensued.

That emotion spilled over almost immediately as more action occurred during Cruz Azul’s ensuing corner. During the corner, Lenhart was elbowed, most likely intentionally since Horacio Cervantes really put some force into it, and connected squarely with Lenhart’s jaw. Lenhart went to the ground, but goalie Hesmer came to the aid of his player and gave a good shove to the Azul defender. Shoves were given and pushing ensured, but again, no cards were shown by referee Geoffrey Hospedales.

“It was an intense game, the field played fast, it was humid, but I don’t think there was anything out of the ordinary,” the Cruz Azul coach Enrique Meza said through a translator. “It was normal intensive play.”

Despite all the animosity, Cruz Azul was able go even further, as midfielder Ramon Nunez was able to pin point a pass through the Crew defense and  found Alejandro Vela, who put the tap over Hesmer’s head and into the net, give Cruz a two nothing advantage, which would be the score line at the half. Ironically, it was the same score (2-0) that the Mexican side held at the half during these two club’s first match in the competition on August 28, which Azul won 5-0 and the Chicago Fire had on the Crew only three days earlier.

When asked about the same score line at the half, but different results, the Crew manager replied, “(It was) the quality of the team. They know how to play with a lead. And we created more chances today then we did in Chicago, but luck was not on our side today.” 

Guillermo Barros Schelotto thought he had a goal in the 65th minute when he sent a 20 yard free kick just inches wide. The Azul keeper Yosgart Gutierrez was well screened and guessed the wrong way, but Schelotto was off the mark. Gutierrez play a brilliant game for Azul and got a stamp of approval from his head coach with his seven saves. “I think he played good, he did the job we asked him to and he did it effectively,” Meza said.

Despite being two down, the Crew kept looking for their offensive stride, which included a bright bit of soccer by subbed in Emmanuel Ekpo (in for Duncan Oughton, 54th minute). The midfielder dodged and weaved defenders to get Guiterrez one on one, but Ekpo put the left footed shot right at the keeper’s feet for an easy save. Crew went a stretch during the second half where they had seven of ten shots in a row, yet the barrage was not working. More inspiring soccer and a shot of energy came from the newest member of the Crew, Venezuelan Emilio Renteria, as he was brought in for Lenhart in the 58th minute.

“I thought we was chasing and trying to help the team, but I’d like to see him more in the box,” the Crew manager noted about his newest signing. 

The Crew chances kept coming in the waning minutes of regulation time, but the Azul keeper was well up to the task, with help from the cross bar. Midfielder Adam Moffatt scissor kicked a bouncing ball in the box from ten yards out, but it hit off the bar. In fact, four balls in total would ‘kiss the paint’ as the Crew could not get into the net.

Columbus was looking for a goal from the outside late, taking shots from 30 and 40 yards, but nothing would come close for the Crew. Even when the Crew had open shots, the Azul defense would step in and deflect them before the ball could get to Gutierrez.

With the win, Cruz Azul qualifies for the next round of the Champions League, but the Crew still have a mountain to climb. With two matches left, the Crew follow Cruz Azul by four points, but hold a two point lead on Saprissa for second, which come to Columbus next Tuesday, followed up by the final match in Puerto Rico.

Schelotto’s Two Heal Slow Start

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - September 20, 2009 - The 16,549 fans at Toyota Park thought at half time that the Chicago Fire were going to scorch by the Columbus Crew, as they led 2-0. But the Crew pulled together and were able to score two goals, including a Guillermo Barros Schelotto penalty, and hold on to their three point advantage on top of the Major League Soccer Eastern Division. 

Photo Credit: Carol Estrella/ISNSoccer.comThe Fire led off the match in the 4th minute after a shot that came off a corner had to be cleared by the Crew’s captain, Frankie Hejduk. The Fire led off the scoring in the 6th minute when a bouncing ball in the box was put into the back of the net past the hands of the outstretched Crew keeper, William Hesmer. Peter Lawry scored on a ball that was set up by a pass in the box by Fire midfielder Brian McBride. For McBride, it was his second match in two months after surgery on his shoulder. Midfielder Chris Rolfe was credited for the second assist, but did not have a major hand in the play, as he was tripped up in the box, but was able to pass the ball to McBride before the fell to the ground.

Hejduk received a caution in the 7th minute after a tough tackle at midfield on Blanco. For his foul on the Fire superstar, Hejduk received a ‘warm’ Chicago greeting of boos and jeers every time he touched the ball throughout the game. After that point early in the first half, and the Fire were not contempt with their lead and pushed forward in search of a big lead.

The Crew broke the Fire’s line, only thanks to a deflection off of the Chicago defender, Wilman Conde. Conde misplayed the ball giving Alejando Moreno a chance to score on a breakaway, took a shot from the 18, but former Crew and current Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch had an easy time deflecting the shot out of harm’s way.
Chances for the Fire finding a second goal and a commanding lead were prevalent, as they kept the pressure on Columbus. In the 28th minute, the Fire looked destined for a goal as Rolfe and Marco Pappa connected for a nice give and go past the Crew backline, but Pappa put too much of a touch on the ball and Hesmer had no problems from safely collecting the ball.

The best chance the Crew had in the first half came in the 34th minute when an Emmanuel Ekpo shot went wide of Busch’s net. Ekpo got the ball from a Hejduk cross into the box that was headed over to the midfielder, but his erratic shot went well wide.

Just past the half an hour mark it was Lowry again that put the Fire ahead 2-0 when the Crew could not clear the ball. A Crew defender slide tackled the ball at the top of the box in the middle, but cleared it to a charging Lowry. Lowy put a good boot to the ball inside the box, through Gino Padula’s legs and beat Hesmer again to the goalie’s right side. An unofficial assist should be given to the Fire’s Blanco, as he stopped dead in his tracks, interfering with the Crew defender getting to Lowry and giving him an open shot.

“I didn’t see it until late,” the Crew goalie admitted. “It was a great shot that just made it into the net.”

Everybody in a red uniform looked to score on the Crew, including a recovered Brian McBride. Fire fans had to be happy to see the 37 year old’s inspiring form as he took charge on the field. He also looked physically fit as he dove feet first to attempt to kick the ball on net, but from time to time had his off moments. McBride had done his job, as the Fire led 2-0 at the half.

“He’s getting his fitness back and his sharpness back and the soccer back,” Chicago fire head coach Denis Hamlett said after the match. “We’ve got to push him along and hopefully by the next two or three games, he’ll be back to speed.” 

The firing squad did not stop in the second half, as they had several chances in the opening minutes, as Logan Pause flipped a ball over the Crew defender’s heads to a cutting Chris Rolfe. Just as Rolfe fired his shot, Crew midfielder Eric Brunner slid in the box and deflected the shot before Rolfe could get the shot on net.

Crew got a step closer when Robbie Rogers crossed the ball into the middle of the box and was able to connect with the Crew’s offensive star, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. For being a candidate for the league’s top score, the Fire should have had a closer eye on the Argentinean, but left him unmarked in the six yard box and was able to head home his 11th goal and bring the Crew close, 2-1.

“Coach didn’t have to say too much (at halftime). That’s not the way we play the first half,” Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers said after the match.

Head coach Robert Warzycha looked for a change of pace from the Crew in the 68th minute as Steven Lenhart and Eddie Gaven entered the match. The Crew played with three up front and created chances right off the bat, as Schelotto had a shot on goal that was cleared by the Fire.

As the drizzle turned into rain in Chicago, the fortunes for the Crew turned around as well. The Fire’s defender, Wilman Conde was guilty of dangerous play in the box. The defender and the Crew’s Moreno went up for a ball in the box and the ref called a somewhat harsh penalty as the players collided.  Moreno went down and the ref said to Hamlett that he was ‘nicked’ and deserved of a penalty. Schelotto put the penalty right down the middle; Bush dove to his left and missed the ball, tying a match that looked to be all Fire early.

“Disappointed.” The Fire coach said about the penalty that Columbus was awarded and eventually change the match. “Five games left in the season, everyone fighting for points and you hope the players dictate the end of the game.” 

The Fire had one more gasp in stoppage time when Patrick Nyarko had a clear shot on goal after the Crew defender fell over Patrick’s feet, but flicked it right into Will Hesmer’s hands.

The Crew are home for their next four matches, which include games with Cruz Azul and Saprissa in Champions League play, as well as David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and the LA Galaxy next Saturday evening. 

The Crew knows how important the next match will be, including their coach, “The next game against Cruz Azul is going to be difficult because they are a good team.”

Crew Signs Goalkeeper Kenny Schoeni

COLUMBUS, OH - September 16, 2009 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has signed goalkeeper Kenny Schoeni. Per club and league policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.

A Cincinnati native, Schoeni (pronounced shay-KNEE), served as the Crew’s third-string goalkeeper during its 2008 championship season. He did not appear in a regular-season match during his lone season in Columbus and was waived on April 2 of this year. The 25-year-old then signed with Miami FC of USL-1, where he compiled a 1-4-2 record in seven appearances this season, with one shutout and a 1.57 goals-against-average.

Schoeni made five appearances, four of them starts, with a 0.80 goals-against average and two shutouts for the Black & Gold in the 2008 MLS Reserve Division. He spent the majority of the 2007 season serving as the MLS pool goalkeeper providing relief for teams with emergency goalkeeper needs.

He spent several stints training with the Crew in 2007 and also started two games in goal for the Crew Reserve squad, in which he posted a 1-1-0 record. Schoeni was named the 2006 Big West Conference co-Goalkeeper of the Year at the conclusion of his lone season at UC Irvine. That followed a three-year career at Vanderbilt that was curtailed when the Commodores’ program was discontinued.

Crew Defeats Saprissa 1-0

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICASeptember 16, 2009 - The Columbus Crew took the early lead thanks to a clinical strike by midfielder Eddie Gaven in the fifth minute and endured a late flurry by the home squad to earn a 1-0 win over Saprissa Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League action at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.

The Crew is now 2-1-0 (6 pts.) in CONCACAF Champions League play and thanks to tonight’s victory it now holds sole possession of second place in the Group C standings. Its next game in the regional confederation’s club championship tournament is next Wednesday, Sept. 23 as it hosts Cruz Azul (Mexico) at Crew Stadium. The Black & Gold returns to league action this Sunday, Sept. 20, when it travels to Chicago for a match-up between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

Dynamic Finish in Columbus

COLUMBUS, OH - September 13, 2009 - Sunday's match has been called "a clash of titans" and even "a preview of the 2009 MLS Cup". It is easy to see why fans of either club would be excited. This matchup would not disappoint.

Both clubs are at the top of the standings in their respective conferences. The pitch would be full of the best players from Major League Soccer: defenders Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk, midfielders Stuart Holden and Robbie Rogers, and forwards Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Brian Ching. These players have not only had success in MLS matches, but in international duty as well.

The Crew are 100% healthy and reported no injuries. The Dynamo have three injuries listed (Richard Mulrooney, Eddie Robinson, and Cam Weaver), but Weaver would start on the substitute bench. Both clubs have seen key players return from international duty.

The physical play from both sides was unquestioned: lots of collisions, pushing and shoving, with fouls and cards along the way. Houston would have some chances early with Luis Angel Landin taking solid shots at the goal in the 14th and 15th minutes. Rogers would take the team on his shoulders in the 21st minute with a great individual effort. Rogers would make a defender miss with a jerky move outside the box and launch a rocket up and over the goal. It is no surprise to see that his time with the national team has sparked his development.

The Crew would hit paydirt in the 34th minute as Frankie Hejduk delivered a header just inside the far post. The ball bounced around the box several times before hitting the back of the net; the goal came from quite a chain of events. It all started with a quick pass from Schelotto to Gino Padula. Padula then launched a volley, intended for Chad Marshall. Marshall, who was dragged down in the box, was unable to reach the pass. Fortunately for the Crew, Hejduk was trailing behind and was able to connect with a header. Hejduk's header came off the deflection of a Houston defender.

The first half was fairly even; no squad could claim superiority over the other. Houston would have an advantage in shots (6), corner kicks (3), but would commit 8 fouls and 3 offsides. Dominic Kinnear would make a significant change in the 58th minute, subbing in Dominic Oduro for Luis Angel Landin. Landin was the Dynamo's marquee signing this season as they signed the Monarcas Morelia and Cruz Azul star as their Designated Player. This would be his first start for the Dynamo; it was clear he was still trying to get his bearings. Kinnear characterized his performance as "okay."

Robbie Rogers would have another streak of brilliance in the 63rd minute, making quite a run at the Dynamo goal. He was able to shed a defender or two along the way, but ultimately his shot was deflected by the Houston defense.

The Crew's Designated Player and fan favorite, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, would take a hard knock from Geoff Cameron and would stay down for almost a minute. No card was issued, but it was clear that the physical play was not about to be dialed down. More collisions would follow as both clubs made a push for the Supporters' Shield.

The 78th minute would show the Dynamo on the attack with perhaps their best opportunity of the night. A popped up header found its way to Brian Ching, who delivered a shot wide left of the goal.

Ching would be part of Houston's goal in the 80th minute as he and Geoff Cameron set up the goal for Cam Weaver. Weaver, who recently recovered from hernia surgery, clearly created a spark for the Dynamo offense when entered the game in the 76th minute. This brought the game to a 1-1 tie even though both squads had more opportunities than the score would suggest.

Some craziness would ensue in the 83rd minute as red cards were issued to the Crew's Adam Moffat and the Dynamo's Ricardo Clark. It wasn't a tragedy as both clubs would be reduced to 10 men; neither side would experience any kind of advantage. Tempers would continue to flare as Brian Ching was given a yellow card just five minutes later for a violent tackle. Will Hesmer was quick to disagree with the official, suggesting that it was a clear red card offense. However, it would a single action that would determine the outcome of the game.

The Crew's Alejandro Moreno was able to break away from the Houston defense and able to make a run toward the opponent's goal. Moreno was pulled down in the middle of the box by Geoff Cameron, resulting in a penalty kick in stoppage time.

Eddie Gaven would take the penalty kick as Schelotto was already subbed out and Moreno was clearly tired from the long run. The game would be decided by this single shot. Gaven would deliver a shot that was soft and down. Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad guessed, but guessed wrong as the ball crossed the line for the victory. Penalty kicks are stressful for any keeper, even one of the most reliable in the league.

A melee would occur in the final minute as Steven Lenhart was taken down in the corner closest to the Crew's most vocal supporters, the Nordecke. It was unclear what happened, but it appeared that objects were thrown on the field. Lenhart and two Houston players emerged from the altercation unscathed, but all received a stern warning from the official. This incident occurred as play continued on the other side of the field with Houston on the attack.

The Crew now look to be the frontrunner for the Supporters' Shield as they added another 3 points to their total. Many were excited about the victory, but it was clear that the Dynamo players and coaches were not happy with how things went. Dominic Kinnear strongly protested the validity of the penalty kick that sealed the victory for Columbus. Kinnear contended that it was not a penalty kick and the referee, not the players determined the outcome of the match. His words were clear: "I saw people running in the box and a guy throw himself on the ground. It happens quite a lot out there. Unfortunately, it gets called too much."

The Crew's schedule doesn't get any easier over the next two weeks. Columbus has to travel to San Jose, Costa Rica for a CONCACAF Champions League match against Saprissa before heading to Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire on August 20. With two very hostile environments in a week's time, it is going to be a challenging road trip for Columbus.

Crew's Chad Marshall Named MLS Player of the Month for August

COLUMBUS, OHSeptember 2, 2009 - Major League Soccer announced today the selection of Crew defender Chad Marshall as MLS Player of the Month for August. Marshall scored two goals and led a Crew defense that earned three shutouts on its way to a 3-1-0 record in the month, which ended with the Crew atop the Eastern Conference standings with 39 points.

Marshall, who played the full 90 minutes in each of the Crew’s four matches in August, continued to display his defensive prowess – and discipline – in the Crew’s recent run of success, as he did not earn a single caution and was only whistled for two fouls in that span.

The Crew started the month of August with a 1-0 win at Colorado on Aug. 1 to extend its winning streak to three games, thanks to the match’s lone goal by Marshall in the 39th minute. Following a Rapids foul from about 25 yards out, midfielder Robbie Rogers touched the re-start over to Marshall, who tucked his blast inside the right post and just beyond the reach of Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens for the eventual game-winner.

The Black & Gold earned its fourth consecutive win a week later on Aug. 8 when it traveled to San Francisco to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. The Crew came away with a 3-0 win over the ‘Quakes on the “Night of Champions” at Candlestick Park, thanks to goals by Alejandro Moreno, Robbie Rogers and Adam Moffat, and the aerial dominance of Marshall who helped the lead squad to its second consecutive shutout.

The Crew continued its winning ways on Aug. 15, earning its third straight shutout with a 2-0 home win over FC Dallas, which again saw Marshall prove to be the difference in the match. The Stanford product notched his second goal of the month, and second game-winner, in the match’s 10th minute. After Moreno earned a Crew corner kick, Rogers lofted his service from the left corner to the edge of the 6-yard box where Marshall skied over Atiba Harris to head the ball past goalkeeper Dario Sala, giving the Black and Gold its fifth consecutive victory. MarshallR17;s efforts in the match helped earn him MLS Player of the Week honors for Week 22 on Aug. 17.

Unfortunately, the Crew was unable to secure a four-win August, as it fell to New York, 1-0, last Sunday (Aug. 30) snapping its five-game winning streak. Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards scored the game's only goal, thanks to a successful counterattack off a Crew corner kick in the 63rd minute.

Marshall has also continued to see his star rise on the international level during the month of August, as he was part of the 20-man roster selected by Bob Bradley to travel to Mexico City for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s match against Mexico on Aug. 12. In addition, Marshall – along with Crew teammate Robbie Rogers – was among 24 players called in by Bradley to prepare for the USA's upcoming matches against El Salvador on Sept. 5 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah and Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 9 at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Marshall is the second Crew player to be named MLS Player of the Month in 2009, joining Argentine attacker Guillermo Barros Schelotto who was named Player of the Month for June.

Marshall and the Crew next take to the field on Sunday, Sept. 13 when they host the Western Conference leading Houston Dynamo at 5 p.m. ET at Crew Stadium.

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