The four-team field for the 2014 College Cup is set, and the CSA has one remaining alumnus as the UMBC Retrievers continued their run to the Semifinals.
UMBC, with alum and Westerville native Michael DiCesare, defeated Creighton on penalties to qualify for the final four. DiCesare made a substitute appearance in the match. The Retrievers are the lone unseeded team still alive in the tournament.
Georgetown, featuring David Witkoff, lost to Virginia in penalties in the Quarterfinals. Witkoff made a substitute appearance in the match, playing five minutes. Meanwhile, Michigan State, featuring Jimmy Fiscus and Ken Krolicki, fell to Providence by a 3-2 final. Fiscus started the match, while Krolicki came in off the bench and recorded one shot.
The Semifinal matches feature Virginia taking on UMBC on one side of the bracket, with Providence meeting UCLA on the other side.
Photo Credit: UMBC Athletics
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: The Crew looked to close its road portion of the schedule with consecutive wins. Following the prior week’s huge 3-2 comeback, it was important to make sure the team did not have a letdown.
Aaron Schoenfeld opened the scoring in the 17th minute giving the Black & Gold a 1-0 advantage. Looking to equalize a few minutes later, Thierry Henry curled a shot, which a diving Steve Clark was able to stop.
The Crew went on to score two more goals and beat a New York Red Bulls team that was known for its success at home over the course of the 2014 season.
Difficulty: Henry is always a threat whenever he possesses the ball near the penalty area. Whether he is looking to create or shoot, the goalkeeper must always be focused on his available options.
Henry initially looks to setup Lloyd Sam who is threatening from the right hand side. Sam, however, passes back to Henry who is ready to shoot the second the ball arrives. Henry curls the ball and tries to get it just inside the post, but Clark’s diving save thwarts the effort.
Crew SC forward Kei Kamara recently joined world soccer players such as Yaya Toure and the retired Patrick Vieira in an awareness campaign about the Ebola disease.
Kamara, a native of Sierra Leone, joined the #WeAreAfricaUnited campaign and starred in the above video to help shine the light on healthcare workers on the front lines fighting Ebola in West Africa.
For more information, visit www.WeAreAfricaUnited.org.
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: In the 14th minute of this contest, sure, Steve Clark’s save of Andrew Wenger is a nice stop to keep the game scoreless. But, who could have possibly known the significance of the save before the second half unfolded?
After nearly 70 minutes of scoreless play between the Crew and the Union, Philadelphia managed to find the back of the net twice in less than ten minutes. Danny Cruz converted in the 68th minute, while Wenger did eventually score in the 75th minute.
Not to be outdone, the Crew rallied to score three goals in under five minutes. First Ethan Finlay in the 78th minute, Justin Meram in the 79th minute and Jairo Arrieta with the game-winner in the 82nd minute. The victory broke multiple club records, however, none of it may have been possible without Clark’s big stop of Wenger in the early part of the game.
Difficulty: Conor Casey provides Wenger with a nifty backheel pass that finds Wenger inside the 18-yard box. Clark’s positioning as well as quick reaction time are key in making sure the ball does not find the back of the net.
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: Steve Clark recorded multiple penalty shot saves over the course of the 2014 season. This stop on Marco Di Vaio occurred in the 91st minute, after Columbus had built a 2-0 lead with goals from Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain.
While the stop wasn’t the difference in whether the Crew would earn one or three points from the game, it did give Steve Clark his fourth shutout victory of the season.
Difficulty: Simply put, Clark had to be nearly perfect to get in front of Di Vaio’s attempt. Di Vaio aims for the left side of the net, but is unable to get it past the diving Clark.
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: Of all the incredible saves Steve Clark made over the course of the 2014 season, perhaps no other save ranks as high when combining the importance and difficulty of the stop as his save on New England’s Charlie Davies in late September at Crew Stadium.
With both teams firmly entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoff race, a win for either side would be crucial in securing a postseason berth.
After a scoreless first half, Federico Higuain converted a free kick in the 48th minute to give the Crew a 1-0 lead. From that point forward, both teams had a number of great chances, but none better than Davies’ attempt on Clark. The 1-0 scoreline proved to be the final score and the Black & Gold’s playoff chances skyrocketed with an important win.
Difficulty: Who could better explain the difficulty of Clark’s save than Charlie Davies himself?
Following the game, Davies said, “I would have bet anything on it that it was going to hit the back of the net. Kudos to Steve Clark to make such a great save when his team needed him.”
Davies appears to have the equalizer in the 82nd minute to give the Revs a hard earned point on the road. Clark manages to just get his fingertips on the ball to steer it just wide of the post. Considering all of the spectacular saves Clark made over the course of the year, this one might be hard to top.
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: Steve Clark’s save of this Landon Donovan cross did not affect the result of the match. However, it served as an important moment in the Crew’s 4-1 statement victory over the surging LA Galaxy, arguably the Crew’s best home win of the year.
This victory was the start of the Black & Gold’s six-game home winning streak to conclude the regular season. During that six-game stretch, Columbus outscored its opposition 15-2, while Clark recorded four shutouts.
Difficulty: Trailing late in the contest, Donovan looks to create any type of offense that he can for his team. The cross is sent in for Gyasi Zardes, however, it's out of his reach. Clark is still needed to parry the ball before Waylon Francis is able to send the ball behind the touchline for a corner kick.
by Kevin Noonan
Importance: Looking to win consecutive matches for the first time since the first three weeks of the season, the Crew found itself matched up with a New England Revolution team that had lost each of its previous seven League contests.
Columbus opened the scoring on a Federico Higuain goal in the 43rd minute. Trailing 1-0 at the half, New England found the equalizer off an A.J. Soares header in the 50th minute. It appeared the Revs were set to take the lead, but Steve Clark managed to save a Lee Nguyen shot and punch away a rebound attempt before it could find the feet of Kelyn Rowe. Ethan Finlay scored his fifth goal of the season in the 84th minute to give the Crew a decisive 2-1 victory.
Difficulty: Similar to the previous week’s game against Montreal, Clark was needed to stop two attempts at net within seconds of one another. While Rowe did not record an official shot on target, Clark’s heads up punch of the ball allowed the Black & Gold to clear.
Diego Fagundez did an excellent job of threating down the left-hand side of the pitch and finding Lee Nguyen despite a number of Crew defenders in the area. Nguyen had enough room to create a solid attempt at the net, but Clark was just a bit better in ensuring the game stayed level.
Importance: The Crew entered their 19th match of the season against Montreal with a 4-6-8 record and had been winless in seven consecutive games. Needless to say, picking up a win against a Montreal team that sat in 10th in the Eastern Conference was paramount for the team’s success moving forward.
The Impact opened the scoring in the 35th minute thanks to Marco Di Vaio’s nice footwork and a strong finish into the bottom left corner. The Black & Gold answered in the second half, however, as Bernardo Anor leveled the game in the 56th minute. Clark’s pair of sensational saves in the 64th minute along with Bernardo Anor’s winner in the 75th minute gave Columbus its first League win in 56 days.
The victory also marked the beginning of the Crew’s 10-4-2 record to close the season.
Difficulty: Simply put, both saves from Clark are highlight reel material. Di Vaio aims to get a brace by mimicking the effort of his first goal, but Clark is just able to get a piece of the ball which lands on the feet of Andres Romero.
Romero looks to curl a shot past the outside post, but again, Clark is able to parry the ball away forcing the corner. Given the momentum the Black & Gold just picked up from Anor’s goal just seven minutes earlier, an Impact goal in this situation could have deflated a Crew team looking to bounce back. Instead, Clark’s two huge saves propel Columbus to a much-needed victory and the start of a tremendous run.
by Kevin Noonan
Save Importance: While Steve Clark recorded multiple six-save efforts over the course of the 2014 season, June 28th saw him face just one shot the entire game. Despite only needing to make one save, it was rather important given the context of the game.
The Crew and FC Dallas had played 82 minutes of scoreless play until David Texeira took aim with a header. Clark was able to make the stop, securing his fourth shutout of the season and Columbus’ third consecutive draw in the month of June.
Save Difficulty: It might have waited until the final 10 minutes of the contest, but FC Dallas’s only attempt at net was a solid look for Texeira. Kevan George initially controls Andrés Escobar’s corner, however, Escobar is able to get a second crack at it after Stephen Keel regains possession.
The result is a headed attempt from just outside of the six-yard box. Clark’s positioning following Escobar’s cross makes the save attempt much more manageable, despite Texeira being in close proximity.