Archive | Match Reports

Toronto and LA dire in 0-0 borefest

Posted on 27 June 2010 by Scott Ferguson

With world leaders and protesters descending on the city during Saturday’s G20 summit, Toronto FC played out a 0-0 draw with visitors LA Galaxy as riots broke out just blocks away. Fans struggled to arrive in time for the 19:30 kick-off with public transit suspended and traffic at a stand-still.

Toronto boss Preki started with Julian de Guzman on the substitutes bench as he recovers from a hamstring strain, and with Sam Cronin having recently left for San Jose, Gambian youngster Amadou Sanyang started alongside Martin Saric in central midfield. It was the Galaxy’s Chris Birchall who had the best chance of the first half, however, firing high and wide from outside the area. The former Port Vale man was born in England but starred in Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign.

CONCACAF internationals such as Birchall have proved stars in MLS time after time, and Toronto’s own local lad-turned captain Dwayne De Rosario offered the Reds’ only real threat going forward as the game wore on. He had a number of long range drives, including one in each half that fizzed just past Jamaican international goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts’ far post.

De Guzman was joined by Gabe Gala as a second half substitute, but neither designated player nor Canadian youngster were able to make a serious impact on the game. Gala had a long range effort curl wide late on as LA seemed to settle for a point with Toronto offering little serious objection. For their part, the Galaxy were missing their own brand of Galacticos in David Beckham, Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, with the latter two a part of the United States’ World Cup squad that fell to Ghana just hours earlier in South Africa.

Scattered attendance meant that Toronto’s vocal home support was noticeably subdued, while humidity in the first half gave way to rain in the second. The result ensures that both teams are still in with a shout at playoff contention, and while Toronto’s unbeaten home record stands, three consecutive 0-0 draws in all competitions at BMO Field have hardly inspired confidence from Toronto’s attack. The Reds will play the third of a four game home stand on Canada Day against Houston, with three points vital for Toronto to make the most of home comforts and stay in a playoff position.

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Moor heroics give Rapids dramatic win over Columbus

Posted on 06 June 2010 by pshea

Two organized defensive units grappled scoreless for 85 minutes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, but three key changes late in the game gave Colorado a dramatic 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

1. Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni left the field via red card in the 76th minute.

2. Also at minute 76, head coach Gary Smith had to burn his third substitute to relieve momentarily knee-addled Julien Baudet with Scott Palguta. This irked creative Claudio Lopez, who was ready to step on the field to execute Smith’s endgame.

3. On a free kick from Jamie Smith in the 85th minute, Palguta positioned himself at the far post before drawing defenders as he ran closer to goal. Jeb Zayner watched Palguta cut, and then he watched Drew Moor soar over his shoulder and spike a diving header off the line between the goalpost and Crew goaltender William Hesmer.

Player ratings

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (7): Pickens organized his back line again to secure the shutout. At one point in the first half, Pickens, Moor, and Julien Baudet were very vocal and combative with their organization.

Drew Moor (8): “I think it went right over Scotty’s head,” Moor said of the free kick for the goal. “He had a couple bigger guys on him, and I was with one of their smaller guys, which benefited me. And Jamie put it into the perfect spot. ”

Moor explained the first-half dispute with Baudet and Pickens.”When we’re on the field,” Moor said. “it’s a war. We’re in battle. It’s important that we keep each other on our toes. We’re a competitive bunch.”

Julien Baudet, 76 minutes (6): Baudet played solid at the back, crunching tackles and only handling the ball loosely once in the second half instead of finding Marvell Wynne on the wing.

Scott Palguta, 15 minutes (5): Palguta maintained the shutout, and he attracted attention for the goal.

Marvell Wynne (6): Wynne didn’t attack much, pushing the ball too far on one dribble to the endline in the box. But he didn’t let the Crew get behind him (except for Schelotto’s golden opportunity later in the game).

Danny Earls (6): Earls bobbled the ball at different times throughout the game, but overall he was steady.

Mehdi Ballouchy, (6): Ballouchy had creative touches all night.

Pablo Mastroeni (5): The captain lashed out at Lenhart and created a hole in the Rapids midfield for their midweek visit to Chicago. Other than a sloppy square ball that could have easily turned into a goal, Mastroeni paired with Larentowics to dominate central midfield.

Jeff Larentowicz (6): Larentowicz stabilized midfield and maintained possession. For much of the game, the Rapids worked the ball laterally through midfield and along the back line. But it was hard to penetrate.

Wells Thompson, 60 minutes (7): Thompson cleverly collected a slip pass from Jamie Smith in the box and then cut it back to Omar Cummings in front of the net. But Cummings pinged the post.

Colin Clark, (5): “I thought he put in a fabulous shift,” Smith said.

Conor Casey (5): “I just didn’t think it was working,” Smith said of substituting Conor Casey. “For the first time in a long time, they had him bottled up. It was really difficult for him.”

“It’s a quick turnaround,” Casey said of the upcoming match in Chicago on June 9. “We want to keep our momentum.”

Omar Cummings (6): Cummings had defenders on edge, but other than his first-half blast that Hesmer saved, his attacks and shots were not threatening. He hit the right post off a Wells Thompson pass in front of the goal, stepping ahead of defensive pressure.

Player Ratings

William Hesmer (6): Moor’s goal would challenge any goalkeeper, and Hesmer saved a blast from Omar Cummings in the 36th minute (a lefty from the top of the box).

Eric Brunner, 55 (5): Brunner had one mistouch that forced him to clear the ball in the first half, but for the most part he helped neutralize Colin Clark and keep the scoreline knotted at nothing.

Jeb Zayner, 45 (4): Zayner replaced Brunner shortly after halftime, and he was rumored to be more of an attacking back. But he didn’t push forward, and he didn’t attack the ball when Drew Moor scored the game-winner.

Andy Iro (7): Iro dominated the air, and he joined with Marshall to muscle Casey out of his game.

Chad Marshall (7): Working with Iro, Marshall cooled off one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the league. Marshall was tough in the air and on the ground.

Gino Padula (5): Padula managed Cummings and stepped up into the attack.

Eddie Gaven (7): Gaven was the most creative midfielder for the Crew, spinning strawlike situations into golden opportunities. Gaven stole Mastroeni’s square ball and orchestrated the visitors’ best chance of the night.

Adam Moffat (5): Moffat kept shape for the Crew in midfield, but his contributions were limited.

Robbie Rogers (6): Rogers shows the speed and spark to be dangerous, but he didn’t find opportunity against a well-positioned Colorado defense.

Steven Lenhart (6): Lenhart worked for opportunities, but he didn’t get a lot of service.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto (5): Creative one-touches and attacks, but Schelotto missed a golden opportunity late in the game. Mastroeni slid a sloppy square ball through midfield, and Eddie Gaven stole the ball and sprinted toward goal. Gaven cut the ball to Steve Lenhart, who rolled it to Schelotto left of center but deep in the box. Schelotto fired the shot high over the bar.

Emilio Renteria, minutes (4): Fouled Colin Clark moments after a hand-of-god attempt in the box.

Emmanuel Ekpo (6): Ekpo sparked the Crew attack when he came on, pressuring Danny Earls and creating fan anxiety.

Mike Lapper, NR: “It came down to individual duels,” Lapper said. “I thought we did well tonight, but sometimes it’s a cruel game.” “We’re passing the ball well, but we need to work on finishing.”

Rob Warzycha, NR: The coach stayed home to celebrate a high school graduation, but he kept in touch on the phone throughout the game, including halftime.

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One point gained or two points lost?

Posted on 03 June 2010 by jzidar

The Columbus Crew went into Buck Shaw stadium just days after losing the ‘Battle of the Best’ against the Los Angeles Galaxy.  Losing such a high profile match would normally be cause for concern, especially for a team that is heading out for a two game road trip.  A game of that magnitude brings with it a tidal wave of emotions and as would be expected the losing team often comes out of it with low morale.  But in recent years the Crew haven’t been the kind of club to let the odd loss or unachieved goal bring them down.

Columbus

—————–Hesmer—————-

-Zayner-Brunner-Marshall-Padula-

—————–Carroll——————

–Renteria——Gaven——-Rogers–

——–Garey———-Schelotto——-

Bench: Gruenebaum, Iro, Oughton, Ekpo(Renteria 59′), Herrera, Lenhart(Garey 65′), Moffat

San Jose

———————Cannon———————

-Beitashour-Hernandez-Burling-Corrales-

–Alvarez–Moreira–McDonald–Convey–

———–Wondolowski—Johnson———–

Bench: Busch, Opara(Burling 76′), Leitch, Sealy(Johnson 60′), Sanchez, Ring, Glen(Alvarez 59′)

Tt was immediately apparent that the Crew weren’t dwelling on their loss to LA just days earlier as they came out firing on all cylinders.  Columbus pressed the attack and San Jose seemed content to sit back and defend while waiting to strike on quick counters.  The Crew were rewarded for the unmerciful attack just four and a half minutes into the match.  Zayner served the ball into the center of the box from the right side, it got knocked backwards to Schelotto who was lurking on the edge of the left side of the box. Schelotto took one touch to shake the defender and then fired on goal with his second touch. Joe Cannon stopped the initial shot but wasn’t able to hang onto the ball which rolled to the feet of Jason Garey. Rather than try and take the shot over the flailing Cannon Garey instead slid the ball across the six yard box to an unmarked Eddie Gaven who places the ball in the net from 3 yards out.

However, Columbus’ lead would be short lived. Literally just a moment later poor Crew defending allowed Andre Luiz to collect a badly cleared throw in at the top of the Crew box. Luiz then slotted the ball across the top of the box between multiple Crew defenders to Arturo Alvarez who managed to sneak the ball past William Hesmer and just inside the right post. Not even 6 minutes into the match and the game was already tied 1-1.

The pace of the game began to slow after the initial two goals and it wasn’t until the final twenty minutes did it really pick back up again.

The teams had battled back and forth during the  remainder of the first half and a majority of the second with neither team able to capitalize. Warzycha, looking to revive the Crew’s attack, inserted Steven Lenhart and Emmanuel Ekpo to add muscle up top and extra speed in the middle. With the addition of the fresh legs Columbus took the lead yet again in the 69th minute.  This time they scored in familiar fashion, with a Schelotto corner kick finding the head of Chad Marshall. Although, like before, Columbus’ lead wouldn’t last.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the match a lapse in judgment on the part of Jed Zayner led to an unnecessary tackle on Bobby Convey along the left side.  Convey served in the free kick to the head of Scott Sealy who flicked the ball to the back post where it was knocked in by the head of Chris Wondolowski.

Columbus had a fantastic late chance when Rogers capitalized on a poor thrown in, collected the ball in his own end and was off to the races. Rogers blazed down the left side with San Jose defenders clambering to get back. As Rogers entered the box he caught sight of Schelotto running parallel with him on the opposite side of the box and laid the ball across.  Schelotto had kicked it into high gear but came up just short of reaching the ball and had to watch as it rolled out of bounds for a goal kick.

There is nothing wrong with taking a one point from a road game under normal circumstances.  However, considering that the Crew not only allowed San Jose to come from behind to level the game but they allowed them to do it twice.  Columbus has to look at this match as two points lost rather than one gained.

There are positives to take from this game. The ugly soccer Columbus seemed to be playing in the first five or six matches of the season seems to be a thing of the past. The team is making some beautiful connections and are doing a much better job of maintaining quality possession and accurately passing the ball around the pitch.  The defense continues to look shaky but that can probably be attributed to the lack of stability when it comes to the players starting in the back.  The changes in the attack seemed to be a large improvement.  Moffat has been quite ineffective in the past couple games and spent this match on the bench.  Renteria got the start along the right flank while Gaven was moved into the middle to partner with Carroll.  Garey got the start up top with GBS but other than his assist on the first goal he failed to have much more of an imact than Lenhart.

Referee: Jasen Anno, Referee Assistants: Chris Strickland and Paul Scott, 4th Official: Yader Reyes

Weather at kickoff: 72 degrees and sunny with clear skies

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Columbus’ finds their medicine a bit sour

Posted on 03 June 2010 by jzidar

In 2010 the Columbus Crew have developed the reputation of playing a pretty ugly game of football but still being able to earn points.  There have been numerous times when the final scoreline didn’t match up with the stat sheet.  The Crew have been out shot, out possessed and out defended but still managed to go undefeated over the course of their first eight games. Saturday they faced off against the only other undefeated team in Major League Soccer and were given a taste of their own medicine.

Columbus

—————-Hesmer—————

—Zayner-Iro-Marshall-Padula—

—————-Carroll—————-

—Gaven—–Moffat—–Rogers—

——–Lenhart—Schelotto——–

Bench: Gruenebaum, Brunner, Ekpo, Oughton, Garey, Renteria, Herrera

Los Angeles

———————Ricketts———————

-DeLaGarza-Gonzalez-Berhalter-Dunivant-

–Franklin–Kirovski—Birchall–Stephens–

—————–Magee—-Bowen—————-

Bench: Saunders, Cazunba, Leonadro, Klein, Lewis, Mathis, Jordan

The Crew made few changes to the lineup that took three points from Kansas City a week ago. Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall were spurned by Bob Bradley for the final 23 player World Cup roster and so they resumed their normal positions in the starting lineup. The exclusion of Frankie Hejduk and Danny O’Rourke due to injury led to the reappearance of Gino Padula at left back and with Jed Zayner mirroring him on the right.  Marshall’s usual partner, Eric Brunner, was benched in favor of Andy Iro who has been in top form lately and has 2 goals so far this year.

The LA Galaxy also had a pair of players at camp with the National team, but when the roster got trimmed both Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle had made the final cut.  So far in the 2010 season Buddle (9 goals) and Donovan (9 assists) have been the LA Galaxy attack.  With the two stars away on duty with the US national team it fell to the rest of the Galaxy offense to stand up and be counted.

The match was being touted as ‘The Battle of the Best’ and despite both teams being undefeated the Crew had to be the overwhelming favorites.  With Guillermo Barros Schelotto leading the attack, the return of Rogers and Marshall, the presence of POTW, Emilio Renteria, and the game taking place in Columbus were all factors that tipped the scales in the favor of the black and gold.  But despite having every advantage imaginable the Crew were undone not by one of the many decorated and experienced LA veterans but by two strikes by MLS rookies.

With the exception of a few choice moments the entire match belonged solely to the Crew.  Columbus chalked up a total of 21 shots throughout the course of the match but only managed to place four of them on target.  They earned 15 corner kicks, 6 offside calls and were granted 12 free kicks.  Despite the avalanche of chances the Crew just couldn’t seem to get the ball in the net.

The Galaxy struck early placing its first shot of the game in the back of the net. LA had a been pinned in their end since the kickoff and managed to break away on a quick counter attack that ended with a completely unmarked Michael Stephens scoring off a half volley from 12 yards out.  The galaxy would get another shot exactly ten minutes later before spending the following 67 minutes holed up in their own defensive third.

Robert Warzycha is known to be an attack minded coach and he showed his colors in the 60th minute when he took off a defender and sent on a forward.  He can’t be faulted for pressing for a goal but his first substitution may have also been the dagger that ultimately killed the Crew’s chances to salvage a point.  The Nordecke had been chanting for Renteria since just before the end of the first half and finally their requests were answered.  Padula was the defender that headed to the bench meaning the slower less reliable Andy Iro had to move from the center out to the left side.

Jason Garey came on for Lenhart in the 74th minute and appeared to be the savior when he pounced on a loose Robbie Rogers cross and punched it home.  The goal was immediately called back due to a questionable offside call on Garey.

In the 87th minute Iro made a terrible defensive blunder and was robbed of the ball by Chris Klein in the Crew’s defensive end. Klein took off unchallenged and at the last second passed the ball past the on rushing William Hesmer and across the box to a trailing Tristan Bowen who calmly placed it in the open net for his first professional goal.

Player Ratings

(Scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best)

Hesmer: 6 (Was only challenged three times and made a fantastic save on one.  Couldn’t really do much about the other two)

Zayner: 5 (The worst of the back line throughout the match. Unreliable passing and he left his mark wide open to score on the first goal)

Iro: 6 (Other than the late giveaway that lead to the second goal he had a god game. Almost scored his third of the year but was denied by the post)

Marshall: 6 (A strong presence in the back. 15 corner kicks and the yet the two time defender of the year couldn’t manage put even one in the back of the net let alone on target)

Padula: 7 (The best in the back line during his 60 minutes. Shouldn’t have been the defender to come off for Renteria)

Carroll: 7 (Was a large reason why LA could barely get the ball past the half line. Played solid all evening and distributed the ball well offensively)

Gaven: 7 (Had a fairly quite night. Makes smart runs off the ball and good decisions when he does have it. Is emerging as a leader in the midfield. Moved to the middle when Ekpo came on for Moffat and did just as well as when he was on the wing)

Moffat: 5 (Can’t be faulted for his ‘never give up’ attitude and his 90 minutes of hustle.  His overall play on both sides of the ball continues to remain mediocre at best)

Rogers: 6 (Rogers is a different player with the USMNT than he is with Columbus. Its frustrating to watch him play an inspired 45 minutes against Turkey only for him to return to his usual apathetic self when on the field for the Crew)

Lenhart: 4 (Continues to lack a finishing touch. Admirable for his work rate but a starting striker needs to have more than one goal after a third of the season)

Schelotto: 7 (Timeless. His attempted back heel shot on the lob from Rogers in the opening minutes was almost a moment of pure genius and would have surely won goal of the year. He just can’t do it all alone anymore)

Renteria: 6 (A force to be reckoned with especially when fighting against tired defenders. Looked ineffective up top after having played most of his time this season in the midfield. Perhaps its time he gets the start and a little more time to do his thing)

Ekpo: 6 (Is obviously a better sub than starter as his speed is just too much for exhausted defenders to handle. Improved ball control would go a long way towards making him a reliable scoring threat late in games)

Garey: 5 (Largely ineffective. Scored a goal that was later called back due to him being offside. If he hadn’t fought with Iro and Renteria for that ball and let either of them strike it the game would have been level)

Warzycha: 7 (Made all the right subs at all the right times.  Maybe he needs to spend an entire week of practices just making the entire team work on scoring off corner kicks and set pieces because they’ve clearly lost their touch.  Changes need to be made in the starting forwards because the current pairing isn’t getting the job done)

Referee: Michael Kennedy, Referee Assistants: Claudio Badea and Brian Poeschel, 4th Official: Hilario Grajeda

Attendance:

Weather at kickoff : 82 degrees and clear skies

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TFC hang on for win in San Jose

Posted on 31 May 2010 by chazard

TFC were able to hang onto a win in San Jose to register three points on the road for the first time this MLS season. Preki started the match with 2009 TFC MVP Dwayne De Rosario and Designated Player Julian de Guzman on the bench after they returned to The Reds following international duty with the Canadian Men’s National Team in Argentina earlier in the week.

The first half saw Chad Barrett notching his fifth of the season in the 31st minute when Stefan Frei placed a goal kick from the TFC end to the edge of the San Jose box. Jason Hernandez of San Jose made a poor attempt to head the ball back to Cannon his goalkeeper and Barrett was able to get the outside of his right foot onto the ball, resulting in first goal San Jose has surrendered at home since April 24. Barrett was also awarded a yellow card for his post goal celebration with the corner flag.

The play in the first half was not spectacular, but control of play was to the advantage of The Reds. San Jose Earthquakes did create opportunities in the 13, 23 and 35 minutes, but were unable to capitalize on these chances.

Both TFC and San Jose made changes at the half, with TFC bringing in De Rosario and de Guzman for O’Brian White and Martin Saric.

San Jose brought in Arturo Alvarez for Joey Gjertsen.

Early in the second half Stefan Frei confirmed why he is one of the best goal keepers in the league with a great save on Chris Wondolowski, resulting in a corner kick for San Jose. This proved to just the first of many missed opportunities for the Earthquake in the second half.

Dwayne De Rosario added to the TFC lead in the 66th minute by taking a long pass launched by Dan Gargan just inside the San Jose side of half and one touched it from the top of the box past Joe Cannon to make it 2-0 TFC. For De Rosario it was his 7th goal of the season which leads the eastern conference.

The two goal deficit seemed to create a sense of urgency for San Jose and for the remainder of the game they showed the pressure that they can put on opposing teams.

The lone San Jose goal came on a corner with Ramiro Corrales heading in a Bobby Convey cornerin the 76th minute. It appeared that Corrales and one other San Jose player were the only people on the pitch to go after the ball. This resulted in the Earthquake closing the gap with less than 15 minutes remaining in the match.

San Jose continued to put pressure on TFC for the remainder of the match and ended with 16 shots, 7 of those on goal, compared to TFC with 9 shots and 3 of those on goal.

In a half of play that saw no injuries, there was 3 minutes of stoppage time added and at 92 minutes Joe Cannon left his net to join in the San Jose attack on the Toronto goal.

This strategic decision was not successful and resulted in a clearing by Nick LaBrocca down the field to be captured by De Rosario to net his second of the game and finish the match at 3-1.

Next up for Toronto, a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday June 2 at 8pm in the final match of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, followed by a visit by the Kansas City Wizards for a 4pm start on Saturday June 5.

Scoring Summary
TOR – Chad Barrett (unassisted) 31
TOR – Dwayne De Rosario (Dan Gargan) 66
SJ — Ramiro Corrales (Bobby Convey) 76
TOR — Dwayne De Rosario (Nick LaBrocca) 94+

Lineups:

Toronto FC
Stefan Frei
Dan Gargan
Nana Attakora
Adrian Cann
Nick Garcia
Jacob Peterson
Nick LaBrocca
Amadou Sanyang
Martin Saric (Julian de Guzman 46)
Chad Barrett (Sam Cronin 82)
O’Brian White (Dwayne De Rosario 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Gabe Gala, Raivis Hscanovics, Maksim Usanov, Jon Conway.

San Jose Earthquakes
Joe Cannon
Chris Leitch (Scott Sealy 77)
Bobby Burling
Jason Hernandez
Ramiro Corrales
Brandon McDonald
Bobby Convey
Ryan Johnson
Chris Wondolowski
Joey Gjertsen (Arturo Alvarez 46)
Brad Ring (Cornell Glen 59)
Substitutes Not Used: Ramon Sanchez, Ike Opara, Steven Beitashour, Jon Busch

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Casey shoots Rapids over Sounders, 1-0

Posted on 30 May 2010 by pshea

Conor Casey survived a running battle into the box with Seattle defender Jeff Parke in the 63rd minute, ultimately catching Kasey Keller off his line with a deft chip to the far post for a 1-0 victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“He came up with a finish that I don’t think anyone expected,” Colorado head coach Gary Smith said. “On top of that, it was certainly his best general play. I thought he was physically and mentally prepared. He brought players into the game, bought us some time. His ability to switch the point of attack has improved enormously. Hopefully, he’ll keep this confidence going forward.”

See “Player ratings” for more quotes and pertinent details.

Up next

The Rapids host the Columbus Crew next Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (7:00 kickoff). According to Mastroeni, “Columbus has the spirit of a champion. You look at their roster, and they’re good players. But for the most part they play their roles. That’s a sign of a good team. We know it’s going to be a battle. They have good veterans with Frankie [Hejduk] and [Guillermo Barros] Schelotto. It will be much like today, a close battle that could go either way. We need to come out starting sharp. The first goal will be critical next week. It’s always easier to prepare for the next game after a win.”

Smith had a similar take: “Now we turn our attention to Columbus, who have had a fabulous run.”

“I feel liberated,” Pablo Mastroeni said, referring to the post-pressure national team status off the roster. “It’s like I have a piano off my back. I can get forward when I think it’s necessary to help the team and hold back late in the game when we’re up a goal. I think Gary has done a good job giving the experienced guys freedom to make decisions.”

Elaborating on the club/national team dichotomy, Mastroeni waxed philosophical. “Your club pays your salary, but the icing on the cake is representing your country. It’s always tough to find solace in each of those things [club and national team] because you want to get back to your club team after missing games, but you feel almost resentment. The personal life is so critical for that. You’re on the road with the national team for a month and a half, and then you come home and have two away trips. You don’t get to see your family and your kids. And that’s your support system. They’re there through thick and thin. It’s all coming together for me now. More important, I’m living in the present. I’m working to be a better player and be a better teammate. And make this locker room a great place to be every day.”

Player ratings

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (7): In the the 38th minute, Pickens pushed a bouncing Patrick Ianni volley wide for a corner kick, perhaps the best chance for Seattle all night. Pickens controlled the ball and distributed well, but Ianni’s shot was the only attempt on target from the visitors.

Drew Moor (7): Strong in the air, smart on the ground, and comfortable on the ball, Moor paired with Baudet to plug up the middle and ensure the shutout. “They are extremely reliable,” Smith said of his two central defenders. “They’re very competitive. I’m very happy with the way the pair is performing, and Marvell [Wynne] and Danny [Earls] were sharp.”

Julien Baudet (7): Baudet denied any penetration up the middle, and he had two scoring chances off corner kicks in the middle of the first half.

“What you’ve got is a guy who wants the ball,” coach Smith said. “He attacks the flight of the ball. He’s a very aggressive player in the air. He scored one goal against Houston last year, and I definitely believe there will be more goals from Julien.”

When Baudet went down with an injured knee, Scott Palguta warmed up. But the veteran recovered. “He’s had some soreness in that knee since Wednesday,” Smith explained. “Sore or not, I’m sure he’ll feel better and work extremely hard to be in the starting lineup next week.”

Marvell Wynne (7): Wynne didn’t get beat on the run all night, but his improved positioning meant he didn’t need to retreat at light speed to compensate. He also joined the attack. Captain Mastroeni noted how increased possession is contagious among team members, and more players like Wynne join in. “If you can complete four or five passes,” Mastroeni explained, “then everyone wants the ball. That’s because we’re touching it around. We’re getting better as we go, and a win like this validates it. Today was a good balance of attack and defense.”

Danny Earls (7): When Sounders approached the right wing, Earls readied himself like a firecracker with an active fuse. Like Wynne, he didn’t get beat directly all night, although he had a no-look drop pass that was more of a Benedict Arnold through-ball to Sanna Nyassi.

Mehdi Ballouchy, (6): Ballouchy maintained possession and dominated central midfield with Mastroeni and Larentowicz. In addition to delivering all the corner kicks, Ballouchy forced Keller to make a save in the 73rd minute.

Pablo Mastroeni (7): The captain played tough but in control, even after Ljungberg went vocal. One combination of passes on the right side during the first half put Mastroeni in good position, but his first touch went too far forward and out for a goal kick. Otherwise, Mastroeni won battles and moved the ball along. Although still competitive, Mastroeni looks more comfortable on the field.

Jeff Larentowicz (6): Larentowicz paired with Mastroeni to dominate the center of the field. He didn’t shoot at all during the game, but he pressed into attack.

Wells Thompson, 60 minutes (5): Omar Cummings was having success scorching Leo Gonzalez, forcing the defender to drop him on the turn and earn a yellow card right before halftime. Thompson didn’t have many opportunities, and he stumbled on the ball occasionally. Once, he failed to push it forward to a wide-open, overlapped Danny Earls.

Colin Clark, 30 minutes (5): Although Clark saw more of the ball than Thompson did, he didn’t get past James Riley to deliver dangerous crosses or get off a shot.

Conor Casey (8): Casey got to every ball, either to flick it toward a teammate or to settle it and let players join the attack. He muscled his way to retain possession, and his combination of strength and poise produced the goal.

Omar Cummings (7): Cummings put two of his three shots on goal, and he put Sounders defenders on their heels. In addition to feeding the ball forward to Casey to start the play that ended with a goal, Cummings scrapped to keep possession and create chances.

Seattle Sounders
Kasey Keller (7): Keller needed to leave his line when Parke and Casey raced and tumbled in the box, and the Rapids striker placed it well out of reach at the far post. Keller saved the other four shots on goal and handled high balls in his area.

Leo Gonzalez (5): Coach Smith lamented that his players didn’t attack Gonzalez more after Cummings forced the outside back to foul on the turn at midfield on the wing. Since it looked like the dam would break at some point, most of the promising Rapids’ attacks came through Cummings on the right wing.

Tyronne Marshall (6): Marshall was tough in the air, limited chances, and got involved in the Sounders’ attack during crunch time.

Jeff Parke (5): Parke faced Casey on a night when the striker won most of the air balls and proved to have stronger footing during the footrace to the ball. But Casey was never wide open, and Parke picked up other players through the middle as well.

James Riley (5): Riley was forced to stay back, particularly after Colin Clark came on in the 60th minute and ran deeper to the line than Wells Thompson did. But Clark never got free from Riley.

Brad Evans (5): Although Evans didn’t get caught out of position, he didn’t dominate his space.

Patrick Ianni (6): Ianni cracked a volley off a Drew Moor head clearance in the 38th minute, the only true chance for the visitors all night. Ianni won a few midfield duels and got into the attack.

Freddie Ljungberg (6): Ljungberg retreated hard on defense whenever the Rapids won the ball near him, and he took three shots (the most among Sounders). Ljungberg vocalized his competitiveness aloud, perhaps a waste of breath at this altitude.

Steve Zakuani, 64 minutes (4): Zakuani went down early in the game, and he never really recovered and showed spark. Marvell Wynne blocked Zakuani’s shot in the 58th minute.

Sanna Nyassi, 26 minutes (6): Nyassi brought energy to the game.

Fredy Montero, 76 minutes (6): With two shots wide right and high in the second half, Montero was not a scoring threat, but he was the most active playmaker on a par with Ljungberg.

Miguel Montano, 14 minutes (4): Montano didn’t change the attack or the flow of the game.

Pat Noonan, 83 minutes (5): After the game, Noonan noted that Colorado had a lot of time on the ball, so the Rapids could develop their attacks. Noonan chased down balls and kept possession, but he also hit a header in the 15th minute, a shot at the far post high and wide off a Ljungberg service.

Roger Leesque, 7 minutes (NR)

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Crew trounce Conference foes on the road

Posted on 27 May 2010 by jzidar

The Columbus Crew went on a two game road trip this past week first stopping off at Red Bull Arena and then heading west to visit Kansas at Community America Ballpark.

Columbus

—————Hesmer—————

-Hejduk-Brunner-Iro-O’Rourke-

—————Carroll—————-

–Gaven——Moffat——-Ekpo–

———-Lenhart—Garey———

Bench: Gruenebaum, Zayner(Moffat 57′), Padula, Oughton(Garey 89′), Duka, Renteria(Ekpo 68′), Herrera

New York

————–Coundoul————-

—Albright–Petke–Ream–Borman—

-Hall-Ubiparipovic-Miller-Stammler-

———–Richards—Angel————

Bench: Sutton, Sassano, Mendes(Albright 71′), Garcia, Tchani(Ubiparipovic 65′), Chinn, Wolyniec(Hall 68′)

Both teams entered the contest with key players missing from their lineups but ultimately the Crew proved that they are the deeper and overall more talented squad.  While New York (19 S, 6 SoG) did have double the amount of shots the Crew (10 S, 5 SoG)  had they only managed to place one more on target.  Three New York attempts beat William Hesmer only to be denied as they banged off one of the posts. Despite the absence of set piece maestro Guillermo Barros Schelotto the Crew scored a beautiful goal off an Eddie Gaven corner kick that met the head of Andy Iro who scored his second game winning goal of the season. Moments earlier Gaven had netted his own goal off a great cross by Crew captain Frankie Hejduk.

New York managed to pull one goal back with only ten minutes remaining in the match courtesy of a Tony Tchani header. The goal seemed to reinvigorate the New York attack the but just two minutes later the New York defense broke down yet again and this time Emilio Renteria was the one to make them pay.  Tim Ream and Mike Petke both converged on a bouncing ball midway between the half field line and the New York goal.  The two defenders failed to communicate and both stopped a foot short of the ball allowing Renteria to claim it and take off towards the net. Ream did his best to get back but was unable to catch the Venezuelan international who calmly played the ball around the onrushing Coundoul and then placed the ball in the back of the net. The third Crew goal was the final nail in the coffin and 10 minutes later Baldomero Toledo blew the final whistle and Columbus claimed first place in the East.

Columbus

—————Hesmer—————

-Zayner-Brunner-Iro-O’Rourke-

—————Carroll—————

–Gaven——Moffat——Ekpo–

——Lenhart—–Schelotto——

Bench: Gruenebaum, Francis, Padula(O’Rourke 49′), Oughton(Carroll 67′), Herrera, Renteria(Ekpo 59′), Garey

Kansas City

——————-Nielsen——————

-Harrington-Besler-Conrad-Leathers-

—Jewsbury—Arnaud—Zusi-Smith—

————Kamara–Bunbury————

Bench: Kronberg, Aiyegbusi, Escobar, Myers, Rocastle(Leathers 80′), Diop(Harrington 87′), Wolff(Zusi 67′)

The Columbus defense looked shaky throughout the game and was picked apart time and time again by the Wizards attack.  Kansas (18 S, 6 SoG) seemed to have no trouble getting themselves into scoring positions but repeatedly fell short when it came to finishing their opportunities.  The Crew (7 S, 2 SoG) were once again out shot by a large margin but continued to proved that isn’t about how many chances you have but what you do with those chances.

In the  59th minute Emilio ‘Super Sub’ Renteria came off the bench and yet again put an end to the hopes of Columbus’ opposition.  Five minutes after Renteria’s arrival on the pitch the Crew earned a corner kick and Schelotto headed to the corner.  GBS served in a laser accurate cross to Renteria who was left wide open on the goal line.

Emilio Renteria’s performances against New York and Kansas earned him the honor of MLS Player of the Week! Eddie Gaven and William Hesmer both turned in top notch performances during the week. Gaven notched one goal and one assist while Hesmer came up big against both teams and earned his 26th shutout with the Crew which launched him above Jon Busch for the club record. Both Gaven and Hesmer were tied at 4 votes each behind Renteria for the award

And so only three days after the Crew claimed first place in the East they extend their lead over the rest of the conference by a total of 5 points.  The Crew also still have one game in hand on the second (New York) and third (Toronto) place teams in the East.

Eastern Conference Standings

Club                                                             Pts  GP  W  L  T  GF  GA  GD
1 Columbus Crew 20 8 6 0 2 14 6 8
2 New York Red Bulls 15 9 5 4 0 9 12 -3
3 Toronto FC 13 9 4 4 1 12 13 -1
4 Chicago Fire 9 8 2 3 3 11 12 -1
5 New England Revolution 8 10 2 6 2 10 15 -5
6 Kansas City Wizards 8 8 2 4 2 8 9 -1
7 Philadelphia Union 4 7 1 5 1 7 15 -8
8 D.C. United 3 9 1 8 0 4 18 -14

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Crew quell the Revolution

Posted on 12 May 2010 by jzidar

In a weekend filled with high scoring matches the Columbus v New England match was no exception.  The only difference was that unlike the other matches this one wasn’t a lopsided blowout.

Columbus

——————Hesmer—————-

-Hejduk-Brunner-Marshall-Padula-

——————Carroll—————–

—Gaven——-Moffat——-Rogers—

———-Schelotto—Lenhart———-

Bench: Schoeni, Iro, Zayner, Ekpo(Moffat 78′), Renteria, Herrera(Lenhart 90′), Garey(Padula 71′)

New England

——————Burpo——————

-Smith–Gibbs——–Barnes–Sinovic

——————Niouky—————–

–Boggs–Tierney—-Phelan–Nyassi–

——————-Dube——————-

Bench: Shuttleworth, Castro, Colaluca, Mansally, Schilawski(Barnes 92′)

Neither of the two teams had many attempts on goal during the opening 45 but they both managed to make the most of the few they earned. New England only managed two shots but made them count. Similarly the Crew managed 3 shots overall, 2 of which were on goal. In the 29th minute Zak Boggs drew first blood by launching low skipping ball beneath a diving William Hesmer.

Two minutes later Robbie Rogers lobbed in an early cross that found the head of Cory Gibbs who attempted to clear it but instead set it in the path of an on rushing Eddie Gaven who collected it at the top of the box, dribbled a couple of steps and then blasted the ball inside the far post past the outstretched arms of Preston Burpo. Warzycha praised his work rate throughout the match as well as in the past couple games, “He had a very good game in Seattle and obviousle tToday he was very active and was getting behind the defense quite a bit.”

Columbus would take the lead 4 minutes later off yet another defensive mistake by Gibbs.  A beautiful passing sequence began in the back with Chad Marshall sending the ball up to Robbie Rogers. Rogers dropped the ball to Gino Padula and then raced up the wing. Padula one times the ball to the feet of Brian Carroll who flicks it past the defense and into the path of Rogers. Rogers receives the ball on the edge of the box and one times it across the box on the ground towards Guillermo Barros Schelotto who is advancing on the back post.  Gibbs is heading towards the near post and is between Schelotto and the ball, he slides for the block but ends up knocking the ball past Burpo and into the net.  Gibbs’ didn’t have much of a choice in how to play the ball, he had to slide if he was to reach the ball in time. If he hadn’t slid the ball would have reached Schelotto, who had already gotten on the inside of Khano Smith, and surely would have resulted in a goal anyway.

Five minutes before the half time whistle Boggs struck again. Boggs dribbled along the top of the area through multiple defenders before laying it off to Pat Phelan. Phelan one timed it to Dube at the top of the box who one touched it across the box and back to Boggs who struck a solid ball from 15 yards out that snuck past Hesmer.

Ramon Hernandez blew the whistle for the break and both teams went into the locker room with a lot of questions. Could New England, the obviously inferior team, keep up with the ever increasing pressure of the Crew’s attack while maintaining a consistent offensive threat of their own?  Could the Crew salvage what should be an easy victory at home against a short handed and all around less talented opponent?

As the two teams came out of the locker rooms and the second half kicked off it was immediately obvious which team wanted the win and which team was content with the tie. Columbus pushed and pushed the entire half only to be denied over and over. New England got off a handful of shots here and there but Columbus had nearly three times as many.

As the game entered stoppage time it looked as if New England was going to get their wish and escape Crew Stadium with a point but then the inevitable happened.  Moments after Sergio Herrera took the field for the Crew for the first time since joining the squad in the preseason he began the attack that would lead to the winning goal. Herrera gave the ball to Schelotto who crossed it towards Garey who was making a run to the far post. Garey headed the ball beneath Burpo’s legs and at the goal.  Herrera would have put it away but it appeared as if Barnes shove him into the goal and then knocked the ball out. It was all in vain though because the deflection land directly at the feet of Rogers who calmly placed the ball in the back of the net from 4 yards out.  Warzycha had this to say about the young wingers current show of effort, “He is trying hard. Sometimes he is not producing because of different things but I have to say he is trying hard. Today he got rewarded for working very hard on both sides of the ball.”

Player Ratings

(Scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best)

Hesmer: 6  (Wasn’t tested very often but showed mixed results the few times he saw the ball. Not much he could have done about the second goal but has no excuse on missing the first)

Hejduk: 7  (Typical performance from the skipper. Solid in the back and made good offensive runs)

Brunner: 6 (Had a solid match. Match fitness is still a bit of a question coming off his concussion considering he was seen holding his head during the match)

Marshall: 7 (The glue that holds the back line together. Brought stability to a defense that fell apart a week earlier)

Padula: 7 (Nothing extraordinary this match. A perfect mirror of Hejduk with fantastic defensive work and exceptional passing and offensive forays)

Carroll: 6 (The silent guardian in the middle. Made a few nice passes and botched a few as well)

Gaven: 9 MOTM (This was the Eddie Gaven show! Out of 13 total Crew shots 7 came from him. Lead the charge and easily could have had 1 or 2 more goals. His heel shot in the final minutes was a play of pure genius and was incredibly unlucky to have it bounce off the crossbar)

Moffat: 5 (Almost a non-factor in this match.  Contributed the least on both sides of the ball)

Rogers: 8 (Played like a mad man. Ran at defenders all night and wasn’t afraid to crack a a few shots from distance. Its been a long time coming but he is finally played up to his potential. If he focuses and refines his skills a little more and he’ll be a star soon enough)

Schelotto: 6 (Had a quiet night. Did better in the second half when he had two forwards to feed balls,which revives the question of why Warzycha continues to play him up top rather than as a CAM)

Lenhart: 6 (Pushed and shoved and fought all night. Didn’t have many looks at goal but did blow a fantastic breakaway late in the game)

Garey: 7 (Revitalized the offense with his fresh legs and dangerous runs/positioning.  Could have easily scored the game winner if not for the goal line block by Barnes)

Ekpo: 6 (Added speed to the late game and forced already exhausted Rev defenders to chase him. Still hesitates when it comes to making decisions with the ball at his feet)

Herrera: (He didn’t really play long enough to deserve a ranking but he did play an important role in the final goal by setting up the passing sequence and being in a dangerous position in the box that opened up Rogers for the goal)

Warzycha: 8 (A big improvement over past games.  Kept the teams spirits up and motivated them to push for the when going into the second half.  Finally used his subs before the 85th minute and made smart decisions when the changes came.  Warzycha said he was “trying to change the luck” when he made the change from Lenhart to Herrera, thankfully it paid off)

Referee: Ramon Hernandez, Referee Assistants: Jason Cullum and Steven Taylor, 4th Official: Jeff Gontarek

Attendance: 10,197

Weather at kickoff: 47 degrees and cloudy with strong winds

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Galaxy remain undefeated

Posted on 06 May 2010 by pshea

The Los Angeles Galaxy looked like the home team for the first half hour at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday night, creating chances, earning corner kicks, and ultimately scoring the lone goal of the game to beat the Colorado Rapids.

Rapids defender Julien Baudet kicked Landon Donovan in the elbow in the 21st minute, and Donovan sent the ensuing free kick from distance to an unmarked Alan Gordon at the far post. Gordon’s diving header from close range was simply unstoppable.

“I thought they were the better team in the first half,” Colorado head coach Gary Smith said.

Praising the visitors, Smith noted how the Galaxy had “great organization. They stayed tight and compact.”

Considering MLS scoring leader Edson Buddle’s nine goals and an assist, Colorado needed strong defense to have a chance against the red-hot Galaxy attacker.

As Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena noted, “I told Edson he could have had nine goals today. He had a lot of chances, and Pickens made some good saves.”

“I thought that the back four in general were terrific,” Smith said of his defenders. “Young Danny Earls on the left, especially in the second half when we asked more of him to go forward… He had lovely deliveries, and showed a lot of energy. That little change in the second period to put Marvell [Wynne] at the right back helped. He showed he’s a natural right back. Drew [Moor] and Julien [Baudet] did a wonderful job against two good forwards.”

But Wynne was out of position when Gordon tracked Donovan’s long free kick at the far post.

Looking on the bright side, Smith noted how the game changed after intermission. “To come out in the second half and dominate the way we did showed a lot of character in the group,” Smith said. “There were a multitude of chances that unfortunately today we couldn’t finish.”

Smith replaced Wells Thompson with Colin Clark at halftime, and he shifted Wynne to the outside right position and paired Moor with Baudet in the middle. In the 71st minute, Smith inserted Claudio Lopez for Mehdi Ballouchy and witnessed more attacking options from his players.

“He’s very versatile,” Smith said of Lopez. “He can play on the left. But given the fact that he’s not had a lot of football recently, I think it’s better for him to not be covering those 40- or 50-yard runs forwards and backwards to make things happen. He’ll drift out to the flanks and get more time to deliver. He’s such an intelligent footballer, he’ll see the game unfolding and see areas where he can work.”

Player ratings

Los Angeles Galaxy
Donovan Ricketts (7): Ricketts denied Omar Cummings in the 8th minute and finished by saving six shots on goal for Colorado.
A.J. DeLaGarza, 81 minutes (6): DeLaGarza saved a sure goal from Mehdi Ballouchy in the 36th minute to do his part to ensure the shutout.
Bryan Jordan, nine minutes (6): Jordan neutralized Colin Clark with speed and attacking from the right back.
Omar Gonzalez (6): Gonzalez headed the ball over the bar off a Donovan corner kick (one of three shots from the defender). But he also maintained shape in the back to help earn the shutout.
Gregg Berhalter (8): In addition to a sliding save on Drew Moor in the closing minutes, Berhalter stymied Casey and maintained order in the back.
Todd Dunivant (8): Dunivant fed a cross on the ground to Buddle for an excellent chance right before halftime. He also tossed a number of dangerous throw-ins into the box, and he neutralized Omar Cummings.
Michael Stephens (6): Stephens maintained the Galaxy attack through midfield, forced Matt Pickens to make a save in the 14th minute, and limited attacking options for Colorado.
Christopher Birchall (5): Birchall maintained continuity in the Galaxy midfield and managed a shot in the 18th minute.
Juninho, 62 minutes (5): The Brazilian created chances for his teammates.
Jovan Kirovski, 28 minutes (5): Although Kirovski didn’t create scoring chances for himself or teammates, he helped maintain order for the visitors.
Landon Donovan (6): In addition to a well-weighted free kick for the goal, Donovan cracked the crossbar in the 5th minute, delivered difficult corner kicks, and played responsible defense from the wide position.
Edson Buddle (7): Although he didn’t score, Buddle put three of six shots on goal and created chances despite excellent defending from Julien Baudet.
Alan Gordon, 71 minutes (6): Gordon’s diving header goal had pace, and he played big to hold the ball with heavy pressure from Colorado’s defenders.
Clint Mathis, 19 minutes (5): Mathis handled a potential mix-up with Buddle to set the striker free for a shot in the 75th minute.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (7): Pickens saved Edson Buddle’s shots on goal, and he didn’t have a chance against Gordon’s diving header from close range.
Drew Moor (6): Despite starting the game with a string of bad plays, Moor remained steady in the back, shifting from wide right to center back at halftime.
Julien Baudet (8): With solid tackling, tight marking, and control in the air, Baudet kept Buddle scoreless.
Marvell Wynne (3): Wynne positioned himself poorly on the free kick for the Galaxy goal in the 21st minute. Also, Wynne made a great run out of the back on the right side in the 10th minute, lost the ball, won it back, and then lost it again wide on the right wing near midfield. He tracked back slowly, and Buddle exploited the open space to collect the ball and shoot it. Baudet deflected the shot for a corner kick.
Danny Earls (8): Earls denied scoring chances down the Galaxy’s right flank, and he got more and more involved in the attack as the game evolved.
Mehdi Ballouchy, 71 minutes (5): Ballouchy moved deep to collect the ball for Colorado, but he didn’t get forward enough to support Omar Cummings and Conor Casey.
Pablo Mastroeni (6): The captain ran onto a through-ball to finish a play he started in midfield, eventually laying the ball on the ground to Ballouchy at the end line.
Jeff Larentowicz (7): Larentowicz paired with Mastroeni to make it difficult for the Galaxy midfielder, but he also pushed into the attack and put two of his three shots on goal.
Wells Thompson, 45 minutes (5): The Rapids attacked up the right wing for much of the first half, so Thompson wasn’t too involved. Not naturally left-footed, he drifted into the middle instead of pairing with Earls to work down the wing.
Colin Clark, 45 minutes (5): Although he was part of Colorado’s second-half surge, Clark didn’t take any shots and didn’t fly past defenders like he did in 2009.
Conor Casey (5): Casey couldn’t work free from Berhalter and the Galaxy defense. In the 37th minute, Julien Baudet made a tackle deep on the Colorado defense and launched a long ball to Casey for a breakaway. Casey worked into the box with two Galaxy defenders blocking his path to goal. Wells Thompson made a run into a scoring position, but Casey chipped the ball to the far side of the box instead. In the 48th minute, Clark served a ball to Casey at the back post, but Casey sent the ball wide right from six yards out.
Omar Cummings (5): Despite 90-plus minutes of hard work, Cummings put only one of his five shots on goal.

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Columbus shuts out a rain soaked Real Salt Lake

Posted on 26 April 2010 by jzidar

When you review the 2009 Columbus v Salt Lake series you’ll find it isn’t one lacking in goals. The teams met four times during the 2009 campaign, twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs. Last April Columbus took received a 4-1 spanking at Rio Tinto stadium in Salt Lake City. Then when RSL came to Columbus in July the Crew gave them a taste of their own medicine with a show of force by Steven Lenhart and Jason Garey who lead the Black and Gold to a 3-1 victory.

So when the two teams got drawn against each other in the first round of the playoffs everyone knew it was going to be a battle. The Crew went to Utah with a defensive mentality. Warzycha made the controversial move of benching Guillermo Barros Schelotto for Game 1 and intended to end the game 0-0 and rely on a win at their fortress in Columbus with the unwavering support of the Nordecke. Their plan would have been a success if not for a slight defensive mistake in the dying minutes that lead to a Robbie Findley goal. A week later Salt Lake would find themselves down 2-0 in the 35th minute courtesy of a brace by the inspired play of Guillermo Barros Schelotto. However RSL rallied and manged to bring the game level before the end of the half and then scored a third goal in the second 45 to win the series 4-2 on aggregate and end the Crew’s hopes of winning the double (Supporters Shield and MLS Cup) back-to-back.

Columbus

————-Hesmer————-

-Hejduk-Brunner-Iro-Padula-

————–Carroll————–

–Gaven—-Moffat—-Rogers–

—–Schelotto—-Lenhart—–

Bench: Schoeni, Zayner(Padula 54′), Burns(Schelotto 91′), Ekpo, Garey(Lenhart 85′), Renteria, Herrera

Salt Lake

—————Rimando————–

-Beltran-Borchers-Olave-Russell-

—————Beckerman————-

–Warner—-Williams—-Johnson–

——-Saborio——-Espindola——-

Bench: Reynish, McKenzie, Morales(Warner 62′), Alexandre, Gonzalez(Beltran 77′), Findley(Espindola 62′), Campos

Schelotto's penalty conversion was the difference in the game ©Taylor Birkos/ASN

So when the whistle blew for kickoff yesterday history would have you believe that you were going to witness a golazo bonanza. The game began with the Crew maintaining a majority of the possession and really pressing the attack. The home side had multiple corner kicks early and were earning free kicks in dangerous areas. The momentum had begun to shift in favor of RSL when a Crew attack lead up to Robbie Rogers being brought down inside the 18 yard box. “It was a good run by Robbie. He managed to get in front of Russell, I think, he put his body in front, so he didn’t have any choice. He had to do something, it was fortunate for us that we got the PK.” said Warzycha after the match.

Referee, Steven DePiero blew the whistle and pointed to the penalty spot. Against any other MLS goalie a GBS penalty kick is almost assuredly a goal, but Nick Rimando’s penalty kick saving abilities not only defeated Chicago Fire in the 2009 Eastern Conference final but also helped to bring down the LA Galaxy in the 2009 MLS Cup game. Crew Stadium waited with baited breath as Schelotto approached the ball, took a moment to line up the shot and then slotted the ball into the back of the net past an outstretched Rimando. The remainder of the second half belonged to RSL who continually pounded the box with attacks until Depiero signaled for half time.

The second 45 was very reminiscent of the first 45. Columbus controlled play early but as the half wore on momentum yet again began to shift in favor of Salt Lake. The Crew spent the last 20 playing bunker ball while the Salt Lake offense bombed ball after ball into the Crew box. Warzycha was pleased with how the final quarter of an hour went, “I was hoping that instead of playing their normal game on the ground and trying to find Morales and Williams in front of the box and get some free kicks, they were dumping the ball in front, and that’s what we need. We had Brunner and Iro and I think they won all of the headers. So I was actually glad that they did that.”

The Crew managed a total of 14 shots throughout the game but only one was on the mark. Normally one shot on goal isn’t enough to earn a win, let alone a tie, but the Crew managed to make it stand the full 90+. When questioned about it Warzycha said, “I’ll take it. It’s three points. I’d rather win this scrappy game, knowing that we’re going to play much better, then lose to them in a good game, and how many times did we hit the crossbar and have some chances. So today it was enough to have one shot on goal and actually score, so I’m very happy about that.”

Player Ratings

On scale of 1-10 with 10 being best

Hesmer: 9 (Came up with numerous big saves to keep the Crew ahead. Didn’t mishandle the ball or create any awkward clearances despite the weather)

Hejduk: 7 (Was a rock in the back. Unleashed his trademark two-footed tackle to nullify the RSL attacks while still being able to provide offensive support by making great  runs up the wing)

Brunner: 5 (Not his usual performance. The rust from lack of action was far more apparent with him than others on the team. Made a poor back pass early in the match that required Hesmer to come up big)

Iro: 6 (Looks a little better every match and is a continual reminder that hard work pays off. Should of scored his second goal of the year from a wide open header but  put it straight into the ground and then over the net)

Padula: 6 (Was a little slow at first but settled in as the game progressed. Provided good distribution out of the back)

Carroll: 6 (Didn’t command control of the center as much as he should have. Had a quiet game)

Gaven: 6 (Helped dictate the pace of the game and control the ball through the middle)

Moffat: 5 (Did what he could to clog up the middle but was outnumbered and outmatched. Didn’t provide much on either end of the field)

Rogers: 8 (Took the ball to the box frequently. Wasn’t afraid to take a shot and ripped a couple close ones from 20+ yards)

Schelotto: 7 (Did well to distribute the ball to Lenhart and the wingers. Served in accurate and dangerous free kicks/corners.  Performs better when he drops back more into the midfield which gives cause to wonder why there aren’t two forwards in front of him rather than one)

Lenhart: 5 (Couldn’t seem to decide what to do with the ball when he had it. Didn’t really get any looks at goal, didn’t create many dangerous passes or runs)

Zayner: 7 (Unlike the other players returning after extended absence Jed looked strong. Brought a more speed to the left side. Only got beat once but upon viewing the replay it looked to have been because he was fouled)

Warzycha: 7 (Went with a defensive strategy against a fast, counter attacking squad.  Continues to wait until really late in the game before utilizing his substitutions)

(Garey and Burns also made appearances but didn’t have enough time to settle into the match and make a noticeable impact)

Referee: Steven DePiero, Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher and Hector Vergara, 4th Official: Andrew Chapin

Attendance: 14,322

Weather at kickoff: 67 degrees and raining

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