The View from Our Crew

Crew Drops 2-1 Decision against Municipal

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - September 29, 2010 - The Crew fell 2-1 to Municipal on Wednesday night at Estadio Nacional in Guatemala City in match day five of CONCACAF Champions League Group B play. Former LA Galaxy forward Guillermo Ramirez netted both goals for the home teamwhile defender Andy Iro tallied the lone Crew goal.

Daylong heavy rain continued through the match leaving the pitch at Estadio Nacional with standing water in several places. Players struggled with footing and balls skipped in some spots and came to a halt in others.

The result left Columbus with nine points and dropped it into second place in Group B, one point behind Santos, which beat Joe Public 5-1. Municipal climbed to eight points, but will have to travel to Mexico to face Santos in its final match on October 19. Columbus will travel to face already eliminated Joe Public on October 21. Only the first two teams of each group qualify for the quarterfinals.

Crew Draws with Revs on the Road

FOXBOROUGH, MA - September 25, 2010 - The Columbus Crew staged a second-half comeback against the New England Revolution Saturday at Gillette Stadium to earn a 2-2 draw and restore its lead atop the Eastern Conference.

The Crew are now one point ahead of New York, which defeated the Galaxy 2-0 on Friday night.

Pat Phelan handed New England the lead after two minutes and Shalrie Joseph doubled it by slotting home the Revs' first penalty kick of the season after 56 minutes.

But Steven Lenhart pulled a goal back for the Crew six minutes later, off a Shaun Francis cross, to set the stage for a dramatic finish. Guillermo Barros Schelotto scored the tying goal from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to play to give the Crew an important point.

Columbus Crew Starting XI - William Hesmer, Andy Iro, Eric Brunner, Frankie Hejduk, Emmanuel Ekpo, Eddie Gaven, Kevin Burns, Brian Carroll, Shaun Francis, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto

New England Revolution Starting XI - Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Cory Gibbs, Seth Sinovic, Sainey Nyassi, Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan, Kenny Mansally, Ilija Stolica, Marko Perovic

Mendoza Sends Crew to Top of Group B in CCL

COLUMBUS, OH - September 21, 2010 - For as exciting and controversial as the first match between these two clubs was in Mexico, the return leg was just as exciting as the Crew knocked off Santos Laguna 1-0 with an 87th minute tally by Andres Mendoza Tuesday night at Crew Stadium.

The Crew now hold the group in their hands as they leap over Santos into first place. Columbus now has nine points (two more than their Mexican counterpart) and are looking like they will move onto the Quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Trailing Santos by just one point in the Group B standings, Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha had eight of the starting eleven from the weekend’s 4-0 home defeat by the Seattle Sounders in the lineup.

“They left their heart on the field today,” Warzycha said. “I think we created more chances then them.”

The first half contained much possession by Santos, but the Crew got their chances. With two shots on goal, Columbus was not ready to sit back. Most of the Crew’s chances came in the second half. Jason Garey entered the match at the half as Emilio Renteria was pulled after suffering a groin injury.

Photo Credit: Robert Ivory/ISNSoccer.comChad Marshall had to be taken out in the 67th minute when Santos forward Oribe Peralta put a high boot to Marshall’s face. Marshall would be down for several minutes as Peralta was shown a yellow.

Jason Garey started the second half momentum for the Crew in the and in the 71st minute almost had the opening goal. Emmanuel Ekpo laid a ball into the six-yard box for forward Jason Garey, but Garey just poked the slow roller wide of the net.

“You really can’t fault us,” Garey said. “We had really great chances.”

In the 76th minute, Mendoza received a pass from Eddie Gaven inside the box.

Mendoza tapped the ball ahead of him, pulled the shot off, but either the sliding goalie or the Santos defender blocked the ball wide.

Finally, the backbreaker would come just three minutes from time when Mendoza slipped the game winner past Santos goalie Rafael Figueroa. Mendoza tried to play a ball across to Jason Garey, but the ball was blocked and Mendoza put the rebound home.

“Garey made the play, I took a shot, it got blocked and fortunately it rolled back to me,” Mendoza said though a translator.

The Peruvian went to the ground quickly after the shot and was subbed out with cramping.

“I was feeling a strain around the 70th minute,” Mendoza continued. “I just kept pushing and stretching.”

Columbus now travels to New England to play the Revolution on Saturday (Sept 25) for a MLS clash. Their last two games of Group B are away fixtures; they travel to Guatemala to play Municipal next Wednesday (Sept 29) and finish up with Joe Public on Oct 21st.

Lady Luck Abandons Crew at Home

COLUMBUS, OH - September 18, 2010 - A disastrous first half for the Columbus Crew (13-7-5) put them in an early hole against the visiting Seattle Sounders (10-9-6). A hat trick from Blaise Nfuko and a single goal from Nathan Sturgis put a major hurting on the Crew defense in a match that ended with a 4-0 victory for Seattle.

The Sounders quickly set the tone with a quick strike from Nfuko in just the 4th minute. Crew keeper Will Hesmer faced a barrage of three shots on goal in a matter of seconds, but was only able to save two.

The Crew would respond just 10 minutes later with nice combination play, which resulted in a near miss by forward Steven Lenhart. Three precise, pinpoint passes set up the shot from Lenhart. Opportunities continued for the Crew as they dominated possession early in the first half and had their share of corner and free kicks.

There were several moments where it felt like something was going to happen, but it came down to the lack of finishes for Columbus. The Sounders had the momentum coming off the early goal, but the Crew were playing in front of a raucous home crowd of 17,144.

Seattle would get on the board again in the 39th as Nkufo beat the Crew defense to put a goal in the right corner past an outstretched Hesmer. Things would get even worse as the Sounders were awarded a PK in the 42nd and Nathan Sturgis would convert for his first career goal and a 3-0 lead to Seattle.

Halftime would be a time of reflection for the Columbus squad. The Crew led in just corner kicks (3) and saves (4), while the Sounders dominated the most important categories: shots (9) and shots on goal (7). Robert Warzycha's squad aimed to stop the bleeding on defense and start finishing on the offensive end.

Columbus had a great opportunity in the 54th, but they came up empty after an electrifying save by Seattle keeper Kasey Keller and a high shot by Eddie Gaven off the rebound. Gaven would get another chance nine minutes later, but another save by Keller was the result. Warzycha would call on Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza as substitutes, but it was too little, too late.

Photo Credit: Gary L. Moody Sr.Chances would dry up for the Crew attack, but certainly not for Seattle. Nkufo would get his third goal of the night in the 77th as the Swiss striker drilled another one into the upper 90 after a nice pass from the University of Akron's Steve Zakuani.

Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid was obviously happy with the 4-0 victory against the Crew at home, but wasn't willing to trash his former team. "I don't think the difference between the two teams was four goals, even though that was the score tonight," Schmid said in his post-game comments.

The Crew's head coach was calm and collected after the match and wasn't willing to panic at the first sign of distress. "We have to be a little bit lucky at some point," Warzycha commented. "We have players on the field who can score. They are getting looks at the goal and sooner or later they are going to score."

Saturday's night match was the first opportunity for Crew fans to see the club's newest signing, Cleveland State midfielder Josh Williams. The Akron, Ohio native was thrilled with the opportunity to finish out the season with Columbus.

"It's been a whirlwind down here," Williams responded. "I remember my dad taking me to the first Crew game in their inaugural season. I remember sitting there thinking this is exactly what I want to be doing when I am older. Now I found myself here. It is definitely a dream come true."

The loss left Columbus with a bad taste in their mouth, but they don't have long to lick their wounds as they face Santos in CCL play on Tuesday. The result was an undesirable one, but the play of Emmanuel Ekpo and even Kevin Burns were positives for the Crew.

Crew Starting XI - GK William Hesmer, DEF Frankie Hejduk, DEF Chad Marshall, DEF Andy Iro, DEF Danny O'Rourke MID Emmanuel Ekpo, MID Kevin Burns, MID Brian Carroll, MID Eddie Gaven, FWD Guillermo Barros Schelotto, FWD Steven Lenhart

Sounders Starting XI - GK Kasey Keller, DEF Zach Scott, DEF Jeff Parke, DEF Patrick Ianni, DEF Leo Gonzalez, MID Steve Zakuani, MID Nathan Sturgis, MID Osvaldo Alonso, MID Sanna Nyassi, FWD Fredy Montero, FWD Blaise Nkufo

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Former CSU Star Signs with the Crew

CLEVELAND, OH - September 17, 2010 - Josh Williams, a former midfielder at Cleveland State, has signed a contract with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. The Crew announced the signing on Thursday, September 16.

“We’re very happy about it,” said CSU head coach Ali Kazemaini. “Part of what we try to do at Cleveland State is attract next level talent and Josh is an example of somebody who was good enough to play professionally and trained hard enough to play professionally.”

The Crew called Williams on Wednesday, September 15 to offer him the contract. Williams signed it and drove to Columbus to officially join the team.

Photo Credit: Cleveland State University Sports Information

“They called me a couple days ago and asked me if I was in shape,” Williams said. “I said, ‘I sure am.’ They told me to just be ready, and then called me again yesterday to say I was on the team.”

For Williams, signing with the Crew was more than just an opportunity to play professionally.

“It was a dream come true,” Williams said. “My dad took me to the first Crew game their inaugural year and I remember watching the players and thinking that this is what I want to do. I want to be out there playing soccer. I’ve been a Crew fan ever since that game.”

Williams got his first opportunity to play with the Crew back in April.

“The Crew invited me to play with them during the exhibition season,” Williams said. “I guess I played well enough for them to keep me in mind.”

Williams started 74 games for the Vikings between 2006 and 2009. As a senior last fall, he finished tied for fifth in the Horizon League in goals (6) and tied for seventh in points (14). His performance earned him first team All-Conference honors.

Williams finished his CSU career with 12 goals and eight assists for 32 points. His five game-winning goals were the most by any Viking between 2006-09.

“Josh came here not knowing if he would be able to play at the Division I level,” Kazemaini said. “He’s somebody who went from not knowing if he could play at this level to someone who will be playing professionally in just four years. We’re glad we were able to help him develop.”

Williams credited his success to the coaching he received from Kazemaini, a former professional soccer player with the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League.

“Coach Kaz prepared our team like he was preparing a professional team,” Williams said. “He knew how the professionals trained, and that’s how he coached us. It definitely helped ready me for playing with the Crew.”

For now, Williams is focusing on moving from being on the team to cracking the game day lineup.

“I just want to perform well enough in practice to earn some time on the field,” Williams said. “I’m going to work hard and show my coaches that I can play.”

Crew Win CONCACAF Tilt with Three Second Half Goals

COLUMBUS, OH - September 14, 2010 - The Columbus Crew defeated Joe Public 3-0 Tuesday night at Crew stadium, as Columbus now distances themselves from both Joe Public and Municipal at the bottom of Group B of the CONCACAF Champions League. Leandre Griffit, Jason Garey, and Steven Lenhart all scored second half goals for the Crew.

“I think it was a good start to the second half (the play opening up),” Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha said after the match. “Before the game, we were expecting to win and tonight we took the three points.”

Sandwiched in between games between two Western Conference opponents in the MLS tilt, the Columbus made eight changes to the squad that lost 3-1 in Los Angeles the previous Saturday. The Crew possessed most of the ball in the first half, but only would come close on a couple of chances.

“Everything went to plan (in the first half),” Joe Public Head Coach Derek King commented. “The players stuck to the game plan and the second half is where it all went wrong.”

The Crew finally got their opening goal from Leandre Griffit just two minutes into the second half. As the Crew slowly mounted a counter into the attacking third, Mendoza played a well-crossed ball from right to left to Griffit.

The French midfielder settled the ball, dropped into the left hand corner of the box, turned his defender around and put a curving ball into the corner of the net. After a subpar first half, the Crew led 1-0.

“I just try to do my best when I play,” Griffit said of his second goal as a member of the Crew. “For me, it was good to score.”

Warzycha noted after the game that the plan was to have Griffit make more cuts to the net, rather than pushing outside with the ball and crossing it in.

“I think it was a really great finish by Leandre,” Jason Garey said of the first goal. “It really helped us out.” It certainly got the Crew going in the right direction early in the second half.

Just moments later, the Crew took the decisive two-goal lead as Garey notched a terrific header. Crew midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo chipped a ball from the right side corner to Garey. The striker then headed the ball from inside the six-yard box, before it got to the mouth of the goal, and put it into the corner of the net, just over the outstretched hands of Joe Public goalie Marvin Phillips.

“(Emmanuel) played a great ball,” Garey said. “I think it was at a critical time to get that goal.” The Crew led 2-0 in the 51st minute and did not look back from there.

Peruvian forward Andrés Mendoza played 60+ minutes in the Crew victory, but was subbed out for the fan favorite named Steven Lenhart. Mendoza provided energy and lots of opportunities in the Columbus attack.

Lenhart put the final touches on the game as the forward would put the Crew up 3-0. The play started with great one touches among the Crew, when rookie Dilly Duka stepped over the ball and a soft pass with the outside of his right foot sucked defenders in. That passed found a wide-open Lenhart who put a charge into the shot from 12 yards out.

The Crew now have six points in three games in Group B of the Champions League, but are three points behind Santos. They host Mexican side Santos Laguna next Tuesday with an 8:00 pm kickoff. However, the Crew host the Seattle Sounders first, as the two meet Saturday at 7:30 pm as the Crew attempt to separate themselves atop the MLS Eastern Conference.

Crew Fall to Galaxy in Battle of Conference Leaders

CARSON, CA - September 11, 2010 - The Los Angeles Galaxy regained sole possession of the top spot in MLS by defeating the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew, 3-1, Saturday at The Home Depot Center in a highly anticipated showdown.

The match also marked Galaxy midfielder David Beckham's 2010 debut. The Galaxy scored two first-half goals and added a third before Beckham came on for the final 20 minutes of the match. Peruvian international Andres Mendoza scored his first MLS goal late for the Crew.

Former Crew forward Edson Buddle scored his league-leading 14th goal from the top of the six-yard box to open the scoring in the 13th minute. Dema Kovalenko's first goal of the season doubled LA's lead in the 35th minute and Jovan Kirovski made it 3-0 10 minutes into the second half.

In the 70th minute, Beckham replaced Juninho to a loud ovation for his first action nearly six months after tearing his Achilles tendon. He picked up a quick yellow card for knocking down the Crew's Emmanuel Ekpo just a few minutes into his return.

Crew Moves into Tie for Supporters' Shield Lead with 1-0 Win at D.C. United Saturday

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 4, 2010 - Playing in its fifth match in two weeks, the Columbus Crew made a first-half goal from Guillermo Barros Schelotto hold up for a 1-0 victory over D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night to remain atop the Eastern Conference standings and move into a tie with the LA Galaxy in the Supporters' Shield race. Columbus took the lead on a first-half mistake by D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and made the most of that break with a composed, confident performance.

One goal was all the Crew would need for its second win in Washington in four days. The Black & Gold secured passage to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday, and on Saturday maintained their push toward a third straight Supporters' Shield.

Under pressure from Schelotto, the 19-year-old Hamid muffed a back pass, then whiffed on a half-volleyed clearance. The Crew's Argentine maestro seized the loose ball and side-footed his shot into the net. Columbus did not allow the home team a single shot on goal in the game, meaning that keeper William Hesmer did not have to make a save to secure his 10th shutout of the season.

The Galaxy played the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 draw on Saturday, allowing the Crew to draw level with them on 44 points, heading into next Saturday's marquee matchup between the two teams at The Home Depot Center. The Crew extended its lead in the East to seven points over New York, which lost at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

New signing Andres Mendoza made his MLS debut in the 89th minute, entering the match as a substitute for Schelotto. Mendoza's arrival came in the nick of time as Columbus is still without Robbie Rogers (knee), Emmanuel Ekpo (groin), and Adam Moffat (yellow card accumulation).

Rude Awakening: United's Dream Run Dashed by Crew

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 1, 2010 - It was too good to be true. D.C. United’s disastrous, dark season had been clinging onto a single ray of light in form of the U.S. Open Cup before Wednesday night’s semifinal matchup with the Columbus Crew.

And when striker Pablo Hernandez powered a 1st half penalty kick to give United a 1-0 advantage, supporters could have been forgiven for dreaming of two USOC finals two years running.

But when it was all said and done, perhaps it was fitting that, in a season where everything that can go wrong has, they were completely abandoned by Lady Luck, once and for all. United’s 2-1 loss to Columbus included a phantom red card that put the team in a shell for the final half an hour after holding a comfortable lead, an at-the-death equalizer and two gilt-edge opportunities thereafter blown.

You name it, United suffered it.

“It was everything, obviously,” United midfielder Santino Quaranta said of the Open Cup defeat. “It's gut wrenching… there’s not too many words I have to describe it.”

Other members of United were similarly at a loss for words, too. Head Coach Ben Olsen sported glassy if not teary eyes and was nearly inaudible at his press conference; defender Julius James took questions quietly. When James was done answering questions, however, he asked reporters if he could share a statement of his own.

“I just want to say one thing… this is a really tough time for us and especially for [the fans],” James said. “The most important thing is we satisfy the fans and we haven’t being doing that this year, and I just want to sincerely thank the diehard guys for coming and supporting us.”

It didn’t have to be so doom and gloom, though.

United were maintaining a comfortable lead against a seemingly disinterested Crew when the game’s turning point came in the 59th minute. United’s goalscorer, Pablo Hernandez— an expensive Argentinean exploit still looking to find his feet in the American game— got tangled up in a tackle with Crew defender Danny O’Rourke and, in the midst of falling to the ground, flailed out slightly.

Though only minimum contact with O’Rourke was made, the Crew defender stood over Hernandez’ face and berated him before referee Chris Penso consulted with his fourth official and then awarding the Argentinean a red card.

United remained in a 4-4-1— with Honduran sensation Andy Najar moved up top— and coped admirably with 10 men for most of the second half. But as the game wore in, United slipped more and more into a defensive shell, and eventually were made to pay for their change in style of play when Crew substitute forward Dilly Duka danced around the box before dishing a pass to defender Andy Iro, who hammered the ball into the back of the net.

Literally seconds later, right from the kickoff, Najar was put in 1v1 on net, but Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenenbaum charged out and Najar nipped it wide.

Seven minutes into overtime, United yielded a penalty that Guiellermo Barros Schelotto dispatched to put the Crew up. Seven minutes after that, United defender Dejan Jakovic summed up United’s entire season with a jaw dropping miss: A shank of a shot from three yards out, off a cross on the ground, with a wide open net at the taking.

After the game, United players, staff and even team president Kevin Payne stood around in the locker room watching the replay of the red card repeatedly, in seeming disbelief that their last run at redeeming had ran out.

Indeed, it was as if the team couldn’t let go of a daring dream in the midst of a nightmare season.

“I’m not going to lie: [the Open Cup] was a big part of the rest of the season,” Olsen said. “We had it. You know. We just can’t reward ourselves, it’s very frustrating."

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