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The Sports Page: Crew Sells Out Stadium for Loss to Galaxy

 Corey Barnes The Sports Page: Crew Sells Out Stadium for Loss to Galaxy
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That’s the best word to describe the Columbus Crew’s brutal 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of a sold-out crowd of black-clad Ohioans on Saturday. Ninety three minutes of splendid defense was undone by one bounce of the ball.

Neither team threatened to score very seriously during the first half. Like a pair of heavy weight fighters gently jabbing each other in the opening rounds, shots on goal were few and insincere. From the Columbus perspective, a 0-0 halftime score would be an unexpected but welcome development. Coming into the game the Galaxy were 4-0-1 in their last five matches while the Crew were a measly 0-3-1 in their last four. Yet the Black and Gold were certainly in the game at intermission.

The second half, the Crew played with a fire lit under them. In the 48th minute a header by Chad Marshall was turned away by Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens on the goal line. His foot was as close to the line as legally possible without allowing a goal. The Galaxy were safe at the moment, but all the momentum was with the home team. The Nordecke was boisterously chanting “I Believe That We Will Win! I Believe That We Will Win!” For a while those words seemed prophetic, just a matter of when. A 55th minute strike by Josh Gardner was collected by LA keeper Josh Saunders. The crowd began to grow restless.Several Columbus opportunities unraveled thanks to Crew players trying to keep the ball an extra touch or attempting to slip past one more defender only to see the sphere cleared away. The affair grew tense in the waning moments. An Andres Mendoza shot in the 85th minute was denied. Saunders kept his clean sheet a short time later denying Robbie Rogers. Three minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of regulation. In the 93rd minute, Omar Gonzalez fed the captain of Team USA, Landon Donovan, a pass in the penalty area. Though Crew keeper William Hesmer blocked his attempt, the Galaxy’s Chad Barrett was in the right place at the right time to drive the nail in the Crew’s coffin and hand Los Angeles a 1-0 victory.

Was this game frustrating? No, the BMV is frustrating; this was torturous. This late in the season, points are at a premium. While a win was always the objective, a tie would have been tolerable. At least the Crew could have hung their hat on the fact that they went toe-to-toe with the best team in the league and held their own. Instead they are forced to face a world in which they have fallen out of first place in the Eastern Conference. They are one point behind the Houston Dynamo and are tied with Sporting Kansas City with 41 points. If the playoffs began today, the Crew would still be in, but nothing is guaranteed right now. Columbus has four games remaining; they need points. The Crew get a chance to improve their playoff positioning on Wednesday when they travel to Kansas City.

Photos provided by Matt Ellis of Three Songs Photography.

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