The Sports Page: Crew Lose to Galaxy and Win against Timbers
In two games this past week the Columbus Crew found themselves on both sides of a shutout in their 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy and a home 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. The Galaxy touts the best record in Major League Soccer and perhaps one of the league’s best players in Landon Donovan. They entered the season to much fanfare and have so far lived up to the hype serving as the pace car in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. Going into Wednesday’s match the Galaxy had not lost in 12 consecutive games. For the first half of the contest, however, the Crew did a fine job keeping up with the Galaxy. Both teams entered the locker room scoreless thanks to Will Hesmer’s fine goaltending in suppressing the early LA attack. In the 70th minute a foul was called against Columbus setting up a set piece for the Galaxy. British import David Beckham took the free kick which was initially rejected by a wall of Black and Gold. The ricochet deflected to the middle of the field where Sean Franklin fired a cannon shot past William Hesmer. Columbus was not able to muster a significant scoring threat after that and fell one to nil. However bitter the loss may be, there were some good signs that Columbus was able to hang with the (admittedly error-prone) class of the MLS. They would get a second chance at three points back in Ohio against the Timbers on Saturday.
Of all the bad feelings that inevitably go with sports, the own goal is by far the most harrowing. It’s one thing to lose a game due to a dubious call from an official or to simply come up short because the opponent played better. But knowing that you were directly responsible for the scoring difference is a devastating feeling. If you don’t believe me just ask Mamadou Danso. In the 79th minute of Saturday’s match the Portland defender deflected an Eddie Gaven shot into the net for the deciding goal. The shutout is especially impressive considering the Columbus was without regular goalkeeper William Hesmer. Hesmer was a late scratch before game time and missed his first regular season game since 2009. Backup Andy Gruenebaum played well in Hesmer’s stead denying all Portland attackers in securing the Crew victory. The three points allowed Columbus to match the Philadelphia Union’s 31 points at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Seeing the Crew back at the top of the East is a welcome sight. If the play on the pitch continues to improve, perhaps the Crew can even put some space between themselves and the rest of the conference.
Tonight at 7:30pm, the Crew will host a friendly against Newcastle United followed by a Saturday visit to Utah to face Real Salt Lake.