Opportunities Abound, but No Goals
COLUMBUS, OH - August 28, 2010 - The stellar performances of Brek Shea and Emilio Renteria were the talk of Saturday's matchup between FC Dallas (9-2-10) and the Columbus Crew (12-5-5), even though the result was a 0-0 draw. Both players displayed playmaking abilities, good speed, and solid technique. Danny O'Rourke of the Crew and Zach Loyd of FC Dallas were given the arduous task of marking and containing Shea and Renteria, respectively.
The Crew's first opportunity came in the 10th minute as FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman mishandled the ball off a potential save. The ball fell to the Crew's Chad Marshall for what looked to be a sure goal. Quick thinking by midfielder Atiba Harris saved the day for Dallas as the St. Kitts native scrambled to get the block.
FC Dallas threatened just six minutes later as Shea made a run and laid down a bullet of a shot, but it was wide left. Harris would take a shot of his own in the 24th, but it was also off target. Shea would challenge the Crew defense again in the 35th minute, but he would come up empty after his shot went just left of the goal.
Renteria would set up one of the best opportunities of the match four minutes later, delivering a beautiful cross near Jason Garey, who wasn't able to convert it into a goal. Renteria would take his own shot in the 40th from outside the area, but suffered a hard foul from Loyd.
Seconds later, a Guillermo Barros Schelotto free kick looked to be another good chance, but the shot deflected off the Dallas wall. A quick breakaway for FC Dallas would follow with Shea getting yet another chance at goal, but nothing would come of it. A physical first half would end in a 0-0 score, but there was promise for a more interesting second half.
"Once again for some reason we played a little better in the second half," Crew striker Jason Garey continued. "We got to try to figure out how we can do that in the first half. I thought we definitely were better in the second half, trying to create some more chances."
The first big moment of the second half came off a beautiful Shea cross, which landed at the feet of David Ferreira. The striker's shot was high, but a good opportunity nevertheless. Renteria would then get the ball after a Schelotto free kick, but his kick was also high.
Renteria would be manhandled yet again in the 60th, resulting in a Crew free kick just outside the area. Iro would connect with the cross, but couldn't convert it into a Columbus goal. Hyndman hoped for a spark in the 61st and 62nd, sending in veteran striker Jeff Cunningham and young midfielder Eric Avila.
The 68th minute provided the Crew with another opportunity and another brilliant play by the Dallas defense. A solid shot by Schelotto would be blocked by Loyd, ending the Crew advance.
Ten minutes later yellow cards would be handed out to captains Schelotto and Daniel Hernandez. Dallas would go on to use their final sub in the 72nd minute with Jackson Goncalves entering the match. Steven Lenhart would find his way onto the field in the 82nd, taking over for a battered and beaten Renteria.
"Probably the guy who caused us the most trouble today was Renteria," FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman commented in the post-game press conference. "He was just a handful. Physical and caused us to be back on our heels a lot. That was one player we were not ready for."
The scary thought is that Renteria has only been with the Crew for roughly a year. "I think he has room for improvement. I think he is going to be a better player," Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha explained. "He got called for the (Venezuelan) national team and that is an indication that he is getting better on the field."
Schelotto himself would come out in the 90th, making the way for Kevin Burns in a tactical move by Warzycha. Burns was asked to fortify the Crew defense for the final minutes of stoppage time, keeping the match scoreless. The game would indeed end with little drama in a 0-0 draw.
The Crew now hit the road for two games against D.C. United on September 1st and 4th, while Dallas heads home for a match against Toronto FC on September 4th.
Columbus Crew Starting XI- GK William Hesmer, DEF Danny O'Rourke, DEF Andy Iro, DEF Chad Marshall, DEF Shaun Francis, MID Eddie Gaven, MID Brian Carroll, MID Adam Moffat, MID Emilio Renteria, FWD Guillermo Barros Schelotto (C), FWD Jason Garey
FC Dallas Starting XI- GK Kevin Hartman, DEF Heath Pearce, DEF George John, DEF Zach Loyd, DEF Jair Benitez, MID Atiba Harris, MID Eric Alexander, MID Daniel Hernandez (C), MID Brek Shea, FWD David Ferreira, FWD Milton Rodriguez
Columbus Crew Bench- GK Andy Gruenebaum, DEF Eric Brunner, DEF Kevin Burns, MID Dilly Duka, MID Leandre Griffit, MID Duncan Oughton, FWD Steven Lenhart
FC Dallas Bench-GK Dario Sala, DEF Edson Edward, DEF Jackson Goncalves, MID Eric Avila, MID Martin Chavez, MID Bruno Guarda, FWD Jeff Cunningham
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Rain, Rain, Rapids Go Away with a Loss
COLUMBUS, OH - August 21, 2010 - Thanks to goals from three different players, the Columbus Crew (12-5-4) turned a short rest into a 3-1 victory over the visiting Colorado Rapids (7-5-8).
Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha went with a similar lineup despite mounting injuries and a very crowded schedule. Midfielder Robbie Rogers (knee cyst) and defender Gino Padula (knee inflammation) remained out with injuries, while Brian Carroll returned from illness to find a spot on the substitute bench.
Eddie Gaven gave the Crew their first opportunity of the night in just the sixth minute after he was taken down in the box by an overaggresive Matt Pickens. The PK would go to the one and only Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who beat Pickens to deliver a 1-0 lead for the Crew. Schelotto has been the "Iron Man" of the Crew this season, leading all field players in minutes played.
The Crew attack would then go quiet for almost 25 minutes with Columbus focused on repelling the advance of the Rapids. The defense for Columbus held strong despite several chances produced by Colorado. Crew Stadium would fall silent in the 46th as veteran Pablo Mastroeni brought the score even just before the half. Emmanuel Ekpo lost track of Mastroeni, while Andy Iro was caught out of position on the Rapids' goal. Colorado's captain worked in combination with Mehdi Ballouchy to get the goal for the Rapids. There seemed to be a shift in momentum towards the visiting team at the half, but the real answer would come in the final 45 minutes.
"When we came in at 1 each at halftime I was very, very pleased," Rapids Head Coach Gary Smith commented in the post-game press conference. "The guys felt that they could go on to win the game. At that point there was no reason to suggest that we couldn't."
However, the second half became an entirely different story, one dedicated to the Crew attack. A Crew squad that had fallen asleep for nearly half an hour suddenly came to life. Jason Garey, who has now put together a string of solid performances, pushed the Crew up 2-1 in the 53rd, thanks to a solid opportunistic effort. Garey would threaten again in the 61st, but slipped on the wet turf trying to reach a precise pass from Eddie Gaven.
The heavy rain seemed to rejuvenate the Crew attack as several breakaways resulted in even more opportunities for Columbus. Garey had a sure goal disallowed minutes later as the Rapids struggled to keep pace. It looked to be a legitimate offsides call even though several Crew players disputed the decision.
"I think Jason Garey did a good job today," Coach Warzycha suggested. "He was very busy, obviously that was a good finish on the second goal."
Both coaches would make some tactical substitutions with the Rapids opting for Jamie Smith, Claudio Lopez, and Quincy Amarikwa. The Crew called on both Carroll and Steven Lenhart.
Warzycha's decision to bring Lenhart off the bench provided immediate dividends as the Crew scored their final goal in the 80th minute. A Schelotto corner kick connected with Chad Marshall, who deflected it to Lenhart for the finish. The 3-1 lead for the Crew gave the Rapids a lot to think about, but not much time to act. The match would end with no change in score, even though the visitors put forth a great effort to get back into the game.
When asked about his lineup choices and the rationale behind them, Warzycha stated, "We are not putting the players on the field to fail. We put them on to succeed."
"Whether they are coming off the bench or starting the game, they are doing what they are supposed to do: they play hard and they play for the team," Warzycha continued.
Without a short turnaround, the Crew's focus changes back to CONCACAF Champions League play as they face Santos Laguna on Tuesday evening.
A potentially hostile environment awaits the Crew on their trip to Estadio Nuevo Corona in Mexico. Veteran midfielder Duncan Oughton admits he has seen a little bit of everything. "You kinda know what you are going to get. They usually throw different stuff at you. We'll see what they come up with this time."
Columbus Crew Starting XI- GK William Hesmer, DEF Frankie Hejduk (C), DEF Chad Marshall, DEF Andy Iro, DEF Shaun Francis, MID Eddie Gaven, MID Adam Moffat, MID Danny O'Rourke, MID Emmanuel Ekpo, FWD Jason Garey FWD Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Colorado Rapids Starting XI- GK Matt Pickens, DEF Marvell Wynne, DEF Julian Baudet, DEF Scott Palguta, DEF Drew Moor, MID Wells Thompson, MID Pablo Mastroeni (C), MID Jeff Larentowicz, MID Mehdi Ballouchy, FWD Omar Cummings, FWD Conor Casey
Columbus Crew Bench- GK Andy Gruenebaum, DEF Eric Brunner, MID Brian Carroll, MID Leandre Griffit, MID Duncan Oughton, FWD Steven Lenhart, FWD Emilio Renteria
Colorado Rapids Bench- GK Chris Sharpe, DEF Danny Earls, DEF Kosuke Kimura, MID Ross LaBauex, MID Jamie Smith, FWD Quincy Amarikwa, FWD Claudio Lopez
Champions League is Here
COLUMBUS, OH - August 18, 2010 - The Columbus Crew are becoming quite good at balancing a tight schedule as the club is a serious contender for four pieces of hardware: the U.S. Open Cup, the Supporters' Shield, the CONCACAF Champions League, and of course the MLS Cup. Wednesday night started their journey into the Champions League competition as the Crew defeated Municipal, champions of the Guatemalan First Division, 1-0 at Crew Stadium.
Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha fielded a competitive squad that included regular starters and the likes of "super sub" Jason Garey, speedy Emmanuel Ekpo, and keeper Andy Gruenebaum, who is regarded as one of the best backup goalkeepers in the league. It was an opportunity to give players some minutes, provide rest for ailing starters, and still be a force to be reckoned with.
Ekpo would start the game with a flourish, threatening the Municipal keeper 5 minutes in with a bit of flashy play. He would be denied the goal, but that wouldn't be the case in the 14th as he put the Crew up 1-0 with spectacular individual play. Assisted by captain Frankie Hejduk, Ekpo was able to put together a collection of moves, going out and around the Municipal defenders to score the first goal of the match.
Municipal keeper Jaime Penedo would continue to be under pressure by the Crew attack. Jason Garey made quite a run in the 17th minute, but was taken down in the box without a call. Penedo would respond with an assortment of saves in the 18th, 30th, and 32nd minutes as the hometown Crew pushed forward early and often. Halftime would come with little fanfare as the Crew held their 1-0 lead. The legendary Guatemalan club still found themselves in the game thanks to an MVP-type performance by their keeper, who had four saves in the first half. Municipal could have faced a much deeper deficit going into the second half without Penedo's solid play in goal.
Municipal would make two substitutes at the half, hoping to change the momentum of the match. Gruenebaum would be forced to make a quick save just a few minutes in as the Reds started the attack. Garey and Schelotto would link up for a nice run in the 50th minute, but the play was broken up before a legitimate scoring opportunity could be had.
The pressure on Municipal continued in the 59th as Penedo got a hand on a shot, which resulted in a Schelotto corner kick. Hejduk would take a shot of his own moments later, but it landed squarely in the hands of the keeper.
The legendary Guillermo Barros Schelotto would have quite an opportunity in the 61st minute, receiving a perfect pass with space to work. Schelotto took the uncontested shot with considerable power, but it drifted up and over the bar. Chad Marshall would follow up with a narrow miss off a header during some seriously physical play in the box.
The Crew would continue their aggressive push forward in the 70th as Eddie Gaven's shot went just wide of the goal. The always dangerous Emilio Renteria would enter the match in place of Adam Moffat in the 70th. Columbus would continue to commit lots of players forward in the attack, creating lots of opportunities.
Gaven would make another run at the goal in the 77th, but got tangled up with the Los Rojos keeper. The Crew's dominance continued even though the scoreboard showed just a 1-0 lead for the Crew.
Ekpo took a hard challenge in the 82nd, but it did not warrant a call from referee Roberto Garcia. He would be subbed off for Leandre Griffit a moment later. A heated conversation between Renteria and Garcia would result in a yellow card in the 86th, but the very physical play continued.
The Crew closed out the final minutes of the game with little suspense and no change in the score. Clearly it was a good start to the competition for the Crew.
"I thought we created a pretty good amount of chances," Crew striker Jason Garey commented. "It could have been 2, 3, 4 for us. That is something we are going to work on, but we are just happy with three points."
The Crew return to MLS action this Saturday against the Colorado Rapids as they continue to maneuver through a crowded schedule. Columbus will then transition back to CCL play on August 24th as they head to Mexico to face Santos Laguna.
The sheer number of games in a short period of time is demanding for players, but definitely doable for the experienced Crew squad. "We can keep our own style, that's the way we like to play," Crew midfielder Adam Moffat stated. "If it's a battling game, we can battle. If it's a passing game, we can pass. We are quite versatile that way."
Columbus Crew Starting XI- GK Andy Gruenebaum, DEF Frankie Hejduk (C), DEF Andy Iro, DEF Chad Marshall, DEF Shaun Francis, MID Eddie Gaven, MID Adam Moffat, MID Danny O'Rourke, MID Emmanuel Ekpo, FWD Guillermo Barros Schelotto, FWD Jason Garey
Municipal Starting XI- GK Jaime Penedo, DEF Jaime Vides, DEF Pablo Melgar, DEF Yony Flores, DEF Pablo Soloranzo, MID Gustavo Cabrera, MID Cristian Noriega, MID Sergio Guevara, MID Gonzalo Romero (C), MID Guillermo Ramirez, FWD Mario Rodriguez
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Crew Falls to Real Salt Lake 2-0 Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium
SANDY, UT - August 14, 2010 - Javier Morales scored both goals as Real Salt Lake defeated the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew, 2-0, Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in a match between the past two MLS champions.
RSL struck just 11 minutes in as Fabian Espindola found fellow Argentine Morales with space to work on a short corner kick. Morales appeared to move in to float a cross to his fellow attackers, but instead he blasted the ball off the far post and in. The Crew nearly scored late in the first half when Steven Lenhart received a cross into the box and managed to get a head on the ball that forced RSL keeper Nick Rimando into a fine diving save at the far post.
Columbus came out with much more attacking fight in the second half, creating a couple of good chances early on. In the 54th minute, Adam Moffat challenged Rimando with a left-footed strike that forced the RSL keeper to once again come up with an acrobatic diving save. However, Morales capitalized on a free kick from just outside the area in the 59th minute, drilling a low shot that went through the wall and bounded past Hesmer to give RSL a 2-0 advantage.
Columbus was left playing catch-up and kept pressing hard. Its best chance of the night came in the 87th minute off a chip by substitute forward Leandre Griffit, who caught Rimando off his line. But the RSL 'keeper made a last minute leap that preserved the clean sheet.
Crew Down Moreno and the Union
CHESTER, PA - August 5, 2010 - Two goals from substitute Steven Lenhart was the difference in the Crew's 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Thursday night.
The Crew's first-ever meeting with the expansion Union was televised live nationally on ESPN2. Lenhart, who entered the game in the 27th minute for Jason Garey who was forced to leave with a stomach ailment, powered home two headed goals to put a dent in the Union's impressive home record while helping his Eastern Conference-leading Crew bounce back from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chivas USA last weekend.
Scoring on either side of halftime, Lenhart's first strike was matched by a Sebastien Le Toux penalty kick just before the break, but the Union weren't able to bounce back a second time. It was Lenhart's first two-goal game in league play.
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