Columbus defense comes up big in win over Chivas USA
Goalkeepers are quick to credit their teammates for shutouts. While sometimes the man with mitts is the sole reason the other team didn’t score, William Hesmer can attest that the Crew’s 1-0 victory vs. Chivas USA was truly a team effort.
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Although he made five saves in the second half, the Crew’s goalie would not have had his third clean sheet of the season without the stellar effort of the players on front of him.
Two key blocks near the hour mark by left back Gino Padula preserved a scoreless draw and made Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s penalty kick in the 90th minute the winner.
Padula first cleared Jonathan Bornstein’s shot off the goal line in the 58th minute. Then, after Hesmer denied Justin Braun, Padula headed a shot from Blair Gavin out of the goalmouth.
“They were incredible,” Hesmer said of the blocks. “I looked up twice and think it’s a goal each time. That’s great.”
Padula said it was just part of the job: “I was in the right place at the right time. I helped to get the three points today.”
The Crew are now one point behind Eastern Conference leader New York, with two games in hand and a meeting Thursday in Red Bull Arena.
“It will be cool,” defender Frankie Hejduk said. “They’ll be fired up. We’re going to be fired up. We’re winning, scoring goals and not conceding that many. The guys are doing incredible job.”
A fourth straight home win was in doubt, especially in a second half dominated by Chivas.
“I was happy about the first half,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “Maybe we should have scored a couple of goals. The second half was completely different. They came out very, very strong and knocked the ball around and they had the better of the game but we defended well.”
Including Padula’s gems to frustrate the Goats.
“[Padula] saved us twice,” Hejduk said. “That was incredible by him; good positioning and great reactions. You need a guy to do something like that sometimes in games.”
He wasn’t the only one. The Crew also had several other deflections along the way.
“We blocked probably three or four shots that could have gone in,” Warzycha said.
Hesmer came through when needed with a save on Braun in the 85th minute. He came off the line to snuff Braun on the right side of the box then outraced the forward to the rebound on the left as Chivas was blinked for the fifth time.
“That’s the nature of my job,” Hesmer said. “They’re going to get some chances and good looks on me. It’s my job to come up big. I thought I was pretty good off the line.”
While Hesmer rightfully praised his defense, he said the attack needs some work.
“We were collectively good defensively," he said. "We have to get better offensively. We couldn’t keep the ball. We were constantly putting ourselves under pressure with bad passes and bad decisions so we have to clean that up.”