Crew Humbled by Sounders
SEATTLE, WA - August 27, 2011 - Seattle Sounders FC used a Lamar Neagle hat-trick, a club-record six goals and a historic first-half to top the East-leading Columbus Crew, 6-2, on Saturday afternoon in front of 36,364 fans on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC (13-5-9, 48 points) have taken points in 13 of the last 14 contests and have equaled last season's point total, as they improve to 7-2-4 and remain unbeaten in their last six on their home pitch in league play. They are three points behind the idle L.A. Galaxy for the best record in MLS.
Columbus (11-8-7, 40 points) remains winless in seven meetings (six in MLS) with Seattle and fall to 3-7-3 on the road this season. The Crew's Jeff Cunningham became the MLS all-time scoring leader, connecting on a second-half penalty kick.
Neagle's hat-trick highlighted an eventful afternoon for Sounders FC, with two of his strikes coming in the first 21 minutes of play as he aided an effort that had the Rave Green on top 4-0 at the half.
In the fourth minute, Neagle sent a throw in to Mike Fucito, who gave it right back and Neagle raced into the left side of the box. He held off a defender and fired a shot from the top of the box that was deflected by Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer, but the ball spun into the back of the net for the 1-nil lead.
In the 21st minute, with the Rave Green already on top 2-0 after a successful penalty kick by Mauro Rosales, James Riley crossed it to Neagle at the far post for a 6-yard volley. Rosales also assisted on the play.
To complete the hat-trick, in the 70th minute, Neagle maneuvered up the left side and blasted a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and bounced down across the line, boosting the lead to 5-1.
The goals were Neagle's third, fourth and fifth of the season. Blaise Nkufo was the first Seattle player to score three goals in a match, against Columbus last season. Neagle's opener in the fourth minute tied a club record for the earliest goal scored.
Seattle's successful PK came in the 16th minute when Rosales fired the ball to the left side of the net, beating Hesmer for his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0. The PK was a result of a handball inside the box by Columbus defender Rich Balchan.
The 17 minutes between Seattle's first three goals marked the fastest time between three goals scored by Sounders FC. The previous best was 19 minutes between three goals scored against DC United in 2009.
Sounders FC's fourth goal of the half came in the 40th minute. Fucito beat Hesmer and a Crew defender to a Rosales pass, then he wheeled and fired into the net from a sharp angle on the right.
The goal was Fucito's first MLS goal since ousting Kansas City in stoppage time in 2010.
Rosales recorded his team-leading eighth and ninth assists of the season. Montero holds the team record of 10, set in 2010.
Seattle's four first-half goals are the most in club history and Seattle became the first team to score four first-half goals since the Colorado Rapids dispatched Chivas USA, 4-0, in August 2009.
Columbus cut into Seattle's lead in the 59th minute when Cunningham converted the penalty. It was Cunningham's 134th career goal, surpassing Jaime Moreno's 133 for the all-time lead. The goal ended a Seattle's defensive scoreless streak of 309 minutes-the club's third-longest.
Columbus' Josh Gardner added a goal on a set piece in the 73rd minute when he took a quick run up to the ball and sent the 30-yard free kick over the wall of Sounders FC defenders and past Kasey Keller, making it 5-2.
One minute later, Neagle sent a cross into the box from the left side and Columbus' Gardner knocked it in the net at the far post for an own goal where the score would finally settle, 6-2, in favor of Seattle.
The afternoon's offensive onslaught by Sounders FC is the first time Columbus has allowed four goals in a match since Seattle scored four at Columbus last year.
The Rave Green will next play their eighth and final match of the month, when they host FC Dallas in a sold-out Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal on August 30 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Kickoff is 7 p.m. PT. Following the cup semifinal Sounders FC has an MLS bye before resuming play at home on September 10 versus Real Salt Lake.
Frustrating Night for Union in Columbus
COLUMBUS, OH - August 20, 2011 The Philadelphia Union were looking to make a statement to the Eastern Conference leaders, Columbus Crew, but after a physical game and what the Union thought was a questionable penalty call against them, Philadelphia dropped the 2-1 decision at Crew Stadium Saturday night.
The Union held the advantage in attempts on goal (17-6), shots, and dominated in corners (13-3), but a Veljko Paunovic header (42nd minute) from a corner was all they could muster in the loss.
“I think we gave everything we could on the field,” French striker Seabastian Le Toux said after the match. “We know that Columbus plays physical, but we challenged them well.”
Philly did play well against the Crew, but Columbus now sits atop the Eastern Conference by five points over Houston and six more than the Union.
Danny Mwanga made Crew keeper Will Hesmer push his shot over the bar, as Mwanga’s rocket from 30 yards out forced Hesmer to make a daring save in the 17th minute.
The Crew’s Emilio Renteria collected Columbus’ first tally in the 37th as he flicked a Robbie Rogers’ cross into the net. Union keeper Faryd Mondragon came out to meet Renteria, but the Crew forward chipped the ball slowly into the net as Union defenders could not get to the ball as it crossed the line.
Paunovic answered right before half time as he was not defended on a Keon Daniels corner, heading in the equalizer for Philadelphia. Hesmer thought he was impeded by Mwanga, as Mwanga jumped in front of Hesmer, not letting him punch the corner away, but the ref saw no foul and the match ended 1-1 at the break. Hesmer was cautioned for his protest.
“After (Columbus) scored, we thought we could still tie and win the game,” Paunovic said. “We were prepared and we worked really hard. I think we have very good guys and we have the right strategy.”
The Union felt they were unjustly called for a penalty in the 52nd minute when a Rogers ball struck the hand of defender Sheanon Williams in the box. The ball did hit the hand of Williams, who was in the action of putting his hands in a defensive position, and Mendoza knocked the game winner in.
Even the penalty seemed to come tantalizing close for the Union, as Mondragon stopped the shot with his left hand, but Mendoza had too much power on the shot, bouncing behind the keeper, deflecting off the diving Mondragon before going in.
Clearly, the bounces were not on the Union’s side tonight.
“To make a call like that in a game like is a little bit too much,” an unhappy Union head coach Peter Nowak said after the match. “That’s all that I can say.”
“Columbus getting a goal like that in the 52nd minute is a nice Christmas present,” Nowak remarked.
Columbus shut down the Union attack in the later stages of the match, including the Union’s new signing Freddy Adu, who was came on in the 60th minute for Mwanga. Adu played as an attacking left winger and tried to put several crosses into the box.
The Union now return to PPL Park for New England next Saturday. The Union and Crew meet September 17th for what looks to be an exciting return fixture in Philadelphia.
Crew Extends Lead in East
COLUMBUS, OH - August 20, 2011 - An Andres Mendoza penalty-kick goal early in the second half helped the Columbus Crew top the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, and solidify its position atop the Eastern Conference. The Crew (11-7-7, 40 points) has now won four of its last five matches and extended its Eastern Conference lead to six over the Union (8-6-10, 34), which fell to third place behind Houston (8-7-11, 35 pts), 3-2 winners over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
The penalty, in the 51st minute, was whistled by referee Mark Kadlecik for a handball on Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams, who was attempting to block a Robbie Rogers cross and brought his arms up. Mendoza snuck his penalty past goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who dove to his left and looked to have made the save only to watch the ball spin under him and over the line.
The Crew’s Emilio Renteria opened the scoring in the 37th minute, redirecting in a clever Rogers cross for his sixth goal of the season. The play was started by Mendoza’s through ball to Rogers on the left side of the Union box. Five minutes later, the Union’s Veljko Paunovic equalized, heading in Keon Daniel’s well-delivered corner kick from the right side.
Crew keeper William Hesmer came up with a big save on Sebastien Le Toux in the first minute of stoppage time to preserve the win.
Offense, Offense, Offense
COLUMBUS, OH - August 13, 2011 - To say the New England Revolution (4-11-9) have struggled this season is a bit of an understatement. Things didn’t get any better for the struggling Revs as the Columbus Crew (10-7-7) landed a flourish of goals to run away with a decisive 3-1 win.
It started out as an incredible opportunity for the Crew despite a plethora of injuries for the home team. Columbus was still without major contributors like Eddie Gaven (leg), Jeff Cunningham (knee), and Rich Balchan (adductor).
The Crew completely dominated possession in the first 30 minutes as New England failed to gain any momentum. It wasn’t that Columbus was playing absolutely perfect soccer, but the Revolution couldn’t put a string of passes together or make any sort of run. Columbus had their opportunities early, but simply weren’t able to finish. Robbie Rogers, fresh off his big goal against Mexico, looked particularly sharp with his passes and was able to make several quality runs in the first half.
The Crew’s first big opportunity came in the 39th as Chad Marshall connected on a header inside the box; only Reis diving to his right kept it from becoming a Columbus goal. But the shocker came moments before halftime as Benny Feilhaber shook Kevin Burns to sneak a shot past Will Hesmer to put the visitors to 1-0 at the half.
The second half saw a serious change in momentum as the hometown Crew took over.
"A great response from the guys," Columbus Head Coach Robert Warzycha declared. "We played smart and that's why we scored goals."
An own goal by Kevin Alston in the 54th minute brought things even, but in the 75th minute Columbus scored again to take the lead. Julius James connected with a great header off a set piece to make the score 2-1.
"I am very happy that we have that winning mentality," James stated. "We actually play really good soccer. I sit back there and I look at our midfielders doing this amazing stuff."
Emilio Renteria then beat Reis in the 81st to give the Crew an even bigger lead at 3-1. The Crew failed to let up on the offensive side as several attackers, particularly Renteria, continued to pester Reis with shots. The final whistle sounded and the Crew came away with a valuable 3 points thanks to a resilient and aggressive home side.
"We always fight back no matter what, we never give up," Rogers commented. "You don't want to lose at home in front of your fans."
The home fans certainly weren't disappointed on this occasion. Goals, yellow cards, physical play.....everything a fan could ask for. Thank you Crew!
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Crew Retains First Place in Eastern Conference
COMMERCE CITY, CO - August 5, 2011 - The Columbus Crew suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of defending MLS champions Colorado Rapids on Friday night behind second half goals by Brian Mullan and Omar Cummings. Despite the loss the Crew retains its first place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Union who hosts the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 6. Midfielder Eddie Gaven was forced to leave the match in the 7th minute with a right leg contusion suffered when Rapids’ Jeff Larentowicz connected with him while attempting a shot on goal. Gaven’s injury will be re-evaluated upon his return to Columbus.
With the early setback, Crew midifelder Bernardo Anor was immediately called into action to cover the vacant spot left by Gaven. The Rapids and the Crew tried to create opportunities early on but were unable to capitalize on them thanks, in part, to strong defensive play on both teams.
In the 21st minute Andres Mendoza connected with a cross from Sebastian Miranda only to see his header go wide to the right. Just a few minutes later Robbie Rogers made a run down the left side and crossed the ball into the box barely missing the Mendoza connection.
Colorado opened the scoring ten minutes into the second half when Mullan picked up a ball from Wells Thompson, outside the box, and shot it right underneath the crossbar into the top left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Mullan almost got on the board again six minutes later but his shot from the same distance sailed high above the goal.
The Crew continued to look for the equalizer and its best opportunity came in the 74th minute when Eric Gehrig crossed a ball to Mendoza who left-footed a point blank shot at straight at Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
The final tally of the evening came in the 79th minute when midfielder Sanna Nyassi played a ball to Cummings who easily slotted it in the back of the net giving the home team the 2-0 win.
Crew Beats RSL at Rio Tinto
SANDY, UT - July 30, 2011 - Real Salt Lake saw its seven-match undefeated streak snapped unceremoniously tonight by the Columbus Crew, who used two goals in the first 10 minutes to power past the Utah side 2-0 in front of 18,516 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Shrugging off RSL’s dominant record in Sandy, it was Columbus looking right at home at the onset, as midfielder Robbie Rogers used his pace down the left flank to set up both of the visitors’ goals. The U.S. National Team winger got the Crew off to their dream start five minutes in, when he blew past a pair of RSL defenders and into the penalty area before slotting a square ball that fellow midfielder Eddie Gaven easily one-timed past helpless RSL keeper Nick Rimando to rock the home side back on its heels.
Things only got worse for RSL five minutes later when Rogers found space on the left again, only this time he floated his delivery towards the penalty area. Striker Tommy Heinemann crashed the spot and nodded the cross off the turf, the bouncing ball hand-cuffing Rimando before sneaking into goal and doubling the visitors’ advantage.
"I think that was the best 10 minutes we have had all season," Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha declared. "Especially playing here in Salt Lake against a good team, it was very encouraging."
Real Salt Lake would slowly climb back into the proceedings and gain the bulk of the possession after the opening 20 minutes, but found it difficult to create quality chances throughout the contest. Forward Jean Alexandre’s sliding attempt to redirect a Fabian Espindola cross in the 23rd minute marked the Claret-and-Cobalt’s best chance to make a dent in the lead in the opening 45 minutes. Espindola’s own effort a minute after halftime was about as good as it got in the second stanza, forcing Crew netminder Andy Gruenebaum to make one of his three saves on the night.
Newcastle Blanks Crew 3-0
COLUMBUS, OH - July 27, 2011 - The Columbus Crew fell 3-0 Tuesday night against Newcastle United in Newcastle’s U.S. tour in front of 11,224 at Crew Stadium.
The Magpies quickly jumped up the board quickly, as Shola Amoebi found the net after only nine minutes. Amoebi simply stole the ball outside the box after two Crew defenders could not clear it. The Nigerian slotted the ball past Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum, giving the Magpies the 1-0 lead. Gruenebaum’s night got progressively worse, as he was red-carded for an intentional handball, outside of the box, right before the half.
“We showed real quality tonight," Newcastle Head Coach Allen Pardew said. “This tour has been a good test because we have three new players on this test. We’ve had the good, bad, and ugly on this trip. We got real good competition on this trip and hats off to MLS.”
Gruenebaum broke from the box and Demba Ba was on a breakaway with the Columbus keeper. Gruenebaum slid to take the ball away from Ba and in the slide, the ball hit Andy’s arm. Referee Michael Kennedy quickly blew his whistle and showed Gruenebaum the red card, ending his night. Gruenebaum looked amazed that he was give the red as were many since the offense did not warrant a sending off in a friendly.
With regular goalkeeper Will Hesmer sidelined with a thigh injury, Chris Konopka, the league pool keeper for the match, finished the 46 minutes remaining in the match.
Newcastle added two second half goals, as Slovenian forward Haris Vukcic added the third, a world class shot that nipped off the finger tips of a diving Konopka, hitting the bar and hitting the back of the net.
Newcastle finish their U.S. tour with a win, a loss, and a draw.
Impressed with the competition, Amoebi had encouraging words to say about the trip.
The standard of football is improving every year,” he said of his impressions on playing on U.S. soil. “We have had a tough tour here, but we found our feet here today and we got the feeling of playing together today. As a unit we worked well today and we are starting to see the fruits of our labor over the past two, three weeks.”
When asked about the standard of play and respect that MLS gets over the pond, Amoebi responded, “We have a lot of English players coming over to the MLS and it’s a serious league. It was a tough tour for us and we see the quality of the teams and we know that this league is one to watch since there is a lot of high-profile players coming over to play.”
Newcastle start league play on August 13 as they host Arsenal.
“You want to start the season off on a good foot, so you need to work hard," Amoebi continued. "We need to prove to him that we are ready to start. It’s going to be a lot of competition for places and the coach is going to pick the best side and we need to prove to him that we are ready.”
Crew Climb to First after Beating Brunner and the Timbers
COLUMBUS, OH - July 23, 2011 - It was a wild, topsy turvy night for the Columbus Crew (8-6-7) as they knocked off the visiting Portland Timbers (6-10-3) by a 1-0 margin. Everybody knows that goals change games. We found out tonight that two controversial calls can have the same effect.
The first half was rather pedestrian for both sides, even though the Timbers had a clear advantage in shots (10 to 3) and shots on goal (2 to 0). There was a good deal of uneventful play as both squads tried to find their rhythm offensively. Andy Gruenebaum manned the goal for the Crew as Will Hesmer was ruled out with an injury shortly before kickoff.
The second half was a different game entirely as the Crew O began to click, creating opportunity after opportunity. The 60th minute brought Crew fans to their feet as Chad Marshall launched a diving header toward the Portland goal. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and dropped to the feet of Darlington Nagbe, who miraculously cleared the ball off the line. Replays from several angles showed that the ball crossed the line before being cleared, but the call on the field stood firm. Columbus was disappointed, but the momentum was now in their favor.
Another crazy play changed the outcome of the game almost twenty minutes later. Eddie Gaven laid claim to the game-winner after connecting with a ball that was struck off the post by teammate Tommy Heinemann. The official scorers declared it an own goal by Mamadou "Futty" Danso as the Portland defender tried to clear it off the line. Replays again confirmed that a mistake had been made; the ill-fated attempt at a clearance took place after the ball crossed the line. It didn't matter to the Crew as they had a 1-0 lead no matter what the stat sheet said.
The home team was able to control the tempo for the remaining minutes of the match. Three minutes of stoppage seemed to last forever as Crew fans held their breath until the final whistle.
The 1-0 win was good for Columbus as they head into an important stretch of games that includes Newcastle United and Real Salt Lake. Positive momentum is certainly building for the home team.
"Every win gets you the confidence that you need," Gruenebaum stated in a postgame interview with ISNSoccer.com. "Hopefully we can trend upward in the road department."
Columbus understands the importance of being in first place at the moment, but knows there are a lot of games to be played and more statements to be made, especially against rivals like RSL.
"Everyone will tell you that Salt Lake is the game that matters most to us," Gruenebaum continued. "That is the game that counts."
Columbus Crew Starting XI - GK Andy Gruenebaum, DEF Sebastian Miranda, DEF Chad Marshall (C), DEF Julius James, DEF Josh Gardner, MID Josh Gardner, MID Emmanuel Ekpo, MID Dejan Rusmir, MID Robbie Rogers, FWD Tommy Heinemann, FWD Jeff Cunningham
Portland Timbers Starting XI - GK Troy Perkins, DEF Lovel Palmer, DEF Eric Brunner, DEF Mamadou Danso, DEF Rodney Wallace, MID Darlington Nagbe, MID James Marcelin, MID Jack Jewsbury (C), MID Diego Chara, FWD Kalif Alhassan, FWD Jorge Perlaza
Crew Loses to LA Galaxy 1-0 on Wednesday Night
CARSON, CA - July 20, 2011 - The Columbus Crew dropped a 1-0 decision to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., despite a strong performance that saw the Black & Gold record six shots on target over four. Galaxy defender Sean Franklin tallied the lone goal, unassisted, denying William Hesmer a much deserved shutout.
The Black & Gold started the match with the same lineup that battled San Jose to a scoreless draw last Saturday night (July 16), but had to substitute forward Tommy Heinemann in for Andres Mendoza who was forced to leave the game with an upper leg injury in the 4th minute. The change almost paid dividends three minutes later when Heinemann saw his right-footed shot from outside the box blocked by a Galaxy defender. Robbie Rogers nearly beat LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders with a 27-yard rocket in the 18th minute but Saunders made the save after the ball bounced out of his hands and onto the goal line.
The Galaxy got a break in the 70th minute when David Beckham swung a free kick on goal, the ball hit the wall and bounced out to Franklin who shot it into the back of the net from about 25 yards out. The Crew continued to battle looking for the equalizer but was unable to capitalize on several chances including a point blank header by Josh Gardner in the 80th minute.
The Crew (7-6-7, 28 pts.) still sits in third place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind New York, who lost 4-1 to Colorado on Wednesday night, and three points behind Philadelphia who does not play a league match until July 29 when it hosts the Rapids.
Crew End With Scoreless Draw Against San Jose
COLUMBUS, OH - July 16, 2011 - Despite Columbus Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer recording his 40th clean sheet as a member of the Crew, Columbus played to a scoreless draw in front of 14,109 at Crew Stadium Saturday evening.
“We played for three [points], but [Jon] Busch made some nice saves tonight,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha declared after the draw. “Goals change the game and if we would have gotten one, it would have definitely changed the game.”
San Jose held the edge on shots (19-17), but Columbus had ample chances to find the opening goal, but were unable to find the breakthrough moment.
The Crew gained a much needed point in a tight Eastern conference (7-5-7) and the San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-8) keep themselves an arm’s length from the bottom of the Western Conference.
The Crew were looking to even the season series after being blanked in the first match 3-0 in San Jose 3 in May. Not only was it the return of former Crew keeper Jon Busch, but also the return of Steven Lenhart, who was dealt to the West Coast in the winter.
Lenhart’s early contribution was a yellow card for knocking the ball out with his hands after the ref had blew his whistle for Lenhart being offside. Lenhart was subbed out after 73 minutes.
Hesmer kept his 40th clean sheet as a member of the Crew (and his 41st in his career) as he needed just five saves.
“He had a solid game, especially against the shots from distance,” Warzycha said. It was also Hesmer’s second straight match without conceding a goal.
“My job is to keep them off the board and make sure we don’t give one up so we are not chasing them even more,” Hesmer said.
The Crew finally started to sniff the net in the 18th minute. Emmanuel Ekpo took a long shot that was high, but the Crew had their first real opportunity.
Simon Dawkins almost came away with a superb goal, if not for the big paw of Will Hesmer to knock it over the net. Dawkins took a long shot, but Hesmer was there in the 34th minute.
Robbie Rogers was almost the first half hero, as he and two other Crew forwards had a breakaway. Rogers received an excellent pass as the Earthquake backline pulled up for the offsides call. They were on and Rogers tried to slate a shot past Quakes kepper Jon Busch, but Busch was able to get his hand on it and knocked the ball out for a corner.
The Crew got a late corner, but the half ended with a zero for both sides.
Columbus certainly had the upper hand in the second, as they put pressure of San Jose’s backline. The Crew outside wingers continuously laced balls into the box, but they were unable to find the final touch.
Andres Mendoza had his best of the night in the 74th minute as he had a breakaway with Busch, but again, the San Jose netminder came up with a stellar save with his feet to preserve the shutout.
Finally, the Crew’s mood changed from needing to score into a night of frustration, as several members of the Crew looked frazzled from not scoring.
None more than Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers, who played several balls into the box. “It’s obvious what I’m going to do,” Rogers said on him throwing his hands up after he put a nice cross into the box. “There were three guys in the box and somebody has to make the effort.”
Certainly that was the tone in the locker room after the match, as Columbus knew they should have had the three points on their home field, instead of the one.
The Crew head to LA, for a mid-week game at the Home Depot Center against the Galaxy on Wednesday (July 20), before returning home to face the Portland Timbers on Saturday (July 23). English club Newcastle United invades Crew Stadium on Tuesday (July 26).
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Crew Lands Big Prospect in Trade
COLUMBUS, OH - July 15, 2011 - The Columbus Crew announced today that it has acquired midfielder Tony Tchani from Toronto FC in exchange for defender Andy Iro and midfielder Leandre Griffit. As a Generation adidas player, Tchani will not count against the Crew’s salary cap this season. Per club and league policy, no further terms of the deal were disclosed.
A 22-year-old native of Douala, Cameroon, Tchani was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in the first round (No. 2 overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. In his first professional season, he appeared in 27 matches, starting 17, scoring a goal and adding three assists. Tchani made his MLS debut as a second half substitute in 1-0 win over Chicago on March 20, 2010 and his first MLS start in 4-0 loss to San Jose on May 8 of the same season. He recorded his first career MLS goal vs. the Crew on May 20 and his first career assist on a Rafa Márquez goal at Toronto on Aug. 21.
Tchani began the 2011 season in New York, appearing in two matches with one start, before being dealt to Toronto FC on April 1, as part of the trade that sent Dwayne DeRosario to New York. At Toronto he started in 13 matches, logging 1,032 minutes and scoring one goal – again against the Crew, on April 23, in the 1-1 draw at BMO Field.
“Tony is a very good young player who we have followed for a long time, and we are thrilled to have him,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “He is a good passer, he’s calm on the ball and he can get forward. He is going to help our team.”
The 6-4 midfielder is a product of the University of Virginia where he spent two years before entering the MLS SuperDraft. During his tenure at UVA he helped the Cavaliers win the 2009 NCAA Men’s College Cup, was a First Team All-America selection by the NSCAA, earned spots on the ACC and NCAA College Cup All-Tournament teams and earned 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year honors after recording nine goals and three assists.
Iro leaves the Crew after appearing in 58 league matches and recording five goals and one assist since 2008. Griffit, who joined the Crew in the middle of the 2010 season, appeared in four league matches and recorded his lone MLS goal against Houston on July 24, 2010.
Cunningham Makes History in Crew Win
VANCOUVER, BC - July 6, 2011 - Playing their first league match in the month of July, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-9-8) suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 home defeat to Eastern Conference high-flyers Columbus Crew (7-5-6) in Major League Soccer on Wednesday evening.
A 90th-minute strike by substitute Jeff Cunningham earned Columbus a sweep of results against Whitecaps FC in 2011, with the Blue and White suffering their second league defeat on Bell Pitch at Empire Field this season. It was also Vancouver's third straight defeat in MLS and fourth straight setback in all competitions. The loss also ended Vancouver's 100 per cent home record against teams from the state of Ohio (4-0-1). Columbus, meanwhile, have now won four of their last six league matches.
It was a devastating end to an eventful match that saw the home side perform well for much of the contest, but see events turn against them in the latter stages. Vancouver substitute Terry Dunfield missed a second-half penalty before the 'Caps were forced to play the last 13 minutes of the game with ten men after winger Shea Salinas was sent off for serious foul play.
"It is obviously very disappointing," said Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn. "We had a lot of young, fresh legs and for the most part, they did a good job of executing our tactics and keeping them under pressure and creating chances. Yet, you have to finish your chances and then with the energy that we put into the game, we have to reward ourselves. You have to take advantage of them and we didn’t. The only important stat on the stat sheet is wins and losses, and they got the goal and we didn’t, so we are very disappointed, especially here on our home turf."
Injuries forced Soehn into four changes for this midweek contest, with Wes Knight replacing captain Jay DeMerit in the backline to play at right fullback, while Jonathan Leathers moved to left fullback. Nizar Khalfan and Pete Vagenas replaced Dunfield and Jeb Brovsky in midfield, while Omar Salgado earned his first MLS home start against the club that he made his first league start against on April 30. During the match, Whitecaps FC players were seen wearing armbands in memory of former club owner and long-time season ticket holder, Milan Ilich, who passed away on June 29.
A gorgeous and hot summer's evening greeted an enthusiastic crowd of 19,079 on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds, and they were given plenty to sink their teeth into, as Whitecaps FC and the Crew showed no fears of getting forward and creating chances throughout this midweek contest. The warm weather seemed to lend itself to an open and entertaining first half that saw Whitecaps FC create the majority of scoring chances, while the Crew also posed an equally dangerous threat to break the deadlock.
Visiting Columbus got themselves in great positions to test Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon, but some fine last-ditch defending by the home side restricted the Crew to just one shot on target from seven efforts. Knight did well to correct the mistake he made in giving possession away to Columbus' Robbie Rogers by conceding a corner on 10 minutes, while Leathers made a timely block to stop the Crew's Eddie Gaven striking on target after Rogers neatly put his midfield partner through on goal on 25 minutes.
It was at the other end where Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer was the busier shot-stopper, as he needed to make important saves from 'Budweiser Man of the Match' Camilo and Gershon Koffie, while Salgado was just off target with two good sights of goal from a counter-attack and a Khalfan cross from the left.
Fittingly, a goalless first half ended with chances at both ends. On 41 minutes, Columbus' Designated Player Andres Mendoza had a dangerous shot blocked by a sprawling Koffie in the Whitecaps FC box after the Peruvian forward saw Bernardo Anor's free kick deflect kindly into his path. Then in the one minute of time added on, Salinas was unlucky not to score his first goal for the 'Caps when he struck the post with a low shot after taking a pass from Camilo in the Crew box.
Both teams picked up right where they left off, with more chances created at both ends from the restart. Rogers and Mendoza had early opportunities for the Crew, then on 55 minutes, Columbus midfielder Eric Gehrig missed the target with an unmarked header from Anor's well-struck corner. At the other end, the lively Camilo forced a good reaction save from Hesmer, while Koffie had a couple of solid attempts for the home side.
It was an interesting contest for a goalless scoreline, but on 73 minutes, Whitecaps FC had a great opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after match referee Chris Penso adjudged that Columbus midfielder Dejan Rusmir had fouled 'Caps skipper Alain Rochat in the Crew box. Substitute Dunfield stepped up to take the spot kick, but Hesmer guessed correctly and dove to his right to stop the penalty and keep the match scoreless.
Things then took a turn for the worse for Vancouver, as they were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes when referee Penso adjudged that Salinas' challenge on Crew defender Josh Gardner was dangerous enough to warrant a straight red card - much to the displeasure of Soehn and the home fans.
As time ticked down, Columbus started to surge and create late chances from Cunningham and Rogers, who forced a good save from Cannon with a low strike. From the ensuing 90th-minute corner, Whitecaps FC were unable to clear their lines, and that allowed Gardner to curl in a fine cross to an unmarked Cunningham at the far post. Though he was in an offside position, the former Toronto FC striker confidently headed home to steal all three points for Columbus and break the hearts of Whitecaps FC and their supporters. Cunningham's strike was an historical one in MLS, as the goal pulled him level with the retired Jaime Moreno at 133 on the league's all-time goalscoring chart.
Columbus will have a week-and-a-half off before hosting San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, July 16.
FC Dallas Claims Pioneer Cup in 2-0 Win over Columbus Crew
FRISCO, TX - July 2, 2011 - FC Dallas celebrated the annual Frisco Freedom Fest with a 2-0 win over Pioneer Cup rival Columbus Crew in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,704 at Pizza Hut Park.
FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea notched his MLS-leading eighth goal of the season and his fourth in the last four games, while Jackson picked up his third goal in the last three games. Shea currently leads MLS in game-winning goals with four.
The defending Western Conference Champions pressed their attack in the 31st minute when defender Jair Benitez intercepted a pass on the left flank and sent a cutting pass into the feet of Marvin Chavez. Chavez dribbled to the top left corner of the box before firing a shot that glanced off the right hand of goalkeeper William Hesmer and struck the outside of the right post. Two minutes later, Shea tracked down a long pass on the right flank and beat a defender to the inside of the felid. His right-footed blast went straight to Hesmer, who punched the ball away for his second save of the first half.
The second half began with Shea testing Hesmer again, this time with a high, arching shot to the back post, but the attempt sailed just over the crossbar in the 56th minute.
The FC Dallas attack finally broke through in the 58th minute, when a buildup on the right flank opened the door for Chavez to have a go with his first touch 12-yards from goal. Hesmer made the initial save, but could not control the rebound. Shea was first to the loose ball and shielded off a defender before slipping a shot underneath Hesmer for a 1-0 lead.
Columbus battled back, winning a corner in the 69th minute. The FC Dallas defense ushered the service out of the area, but the rebound fell to Emmanuel Ekpo at the top of the box. With ample time to tee up the shot, Ekpo blasted a shot directly at Hartman, but the MLS legend was in perfect position to punch the shot away.
The second FC Dallas goal came in the 76th minute when Andrew Jacobson played a through ball into space for Jackson. The speedy Brazilian timed his run perfectly, beating the Columbus backline and setting up a one-on-one situation against Hesmer. Jackson touched the ball to his left before chipping a shot over the head of the goalkeeper for the 2-0 win.