The Crew’s lockdown defense can be scary good at times. It can also be scary.
For the second time this month the Crew were dominated for a half but came away relatively unscathed by bending but not breaking.
Chivas USA were all over the final third in the second half on Saturday, but two goal-line blocks by Gino Padula and key stops by goalkeeper William Hesmer kept the match at zeroes until Guillermo Barros Schelotto converted a penalty in the 90th minute for the Crew’s 1-0 win.
“They came out very, very strong [in the second half] and knocked the ball around, and they had the better of the game, but we defended well,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
The Crew experienced a similar barrage in the opening 45 minutes at Seattle on May 1 but escaped Qwest Field with a 1-1 tie.
“You can play pretty every game, but the more important thing is when you don’t play well, you try to get the points,” Padula said. “We got the three points.”
The Crew are 4-0-2 and Hesmer isn’t apologizing for late winners in the past two matches. Robbie Rogers scored in the first minute of stoppage time May 8 to defeat New England 3-2.
“It’s fine by me,” Hesmer said. “I’m sure we’re making it a lot of fun for the fans and hopefully they’ll keep showing up and bringing their friends.”
He knows the Crew have been lucky to avoid defeat despite the lack of a possession game.
“We’re finding ways to get it done but nobody’s happy, nobody’s satisfied,” Hesmer said. “We’ve still got lot of work to do.”
Still, 14 points looks a lot better than the 0-2-4 record the Crew carried through six games last season.
LOVE TAP – Hesmer quickly dismissed a spat between himself and center back Eric Brunner in the 58th minute. The two collided going up for a ball and Hesmer said Brunner accidentally pulled him down. Hesmer shoved and gestured toward him. Brunner pointed back and yelled before they parted.
“It’s part of the game. I was furious,” Hesmer said. “Eric and I are good friends. We can have those types of arguments on the field and come in the locker room and laugh like we did.”
It’s easier to do so after a win.
HONORABLE MENTION – With goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum eligible to come off injured reserve today after hip surgery in September, reserve keeper Kenny Schoeni decided it’s a good time to retire.
The 26-year-old from Cincinnati has a Neuroscience degree from Vanderbilt and earned a graduate degree in Social Ecology at UC Irvine but is going to work for a small investment banking company in New York City.
He was on the reserve teams in 2007, as well as in 2008 when the Crew won the MLS Cup.
He played nine games for Miami FC (USL-1) last season before rejoining the Crew when Gruenebaum was out and made his only MLS appearance in the regular-season finale, a 1-0 loss to New England.
ROAD CREW – After two byes in April, it’s time to get busy with matches at New York on Thursday and Kansas City on Sunday. The Crew trail the Red Bulls by a point with two games in hand.
The Crew have five games—including four away—through June 5.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR – Will Schelotto start two games in four days? Not having to play on turf in Red Bull Arena helps his cause.
A NUMBER OF THINGS — Schelotto’s four goals tie him with Dante Washington for fifth on the Crew all-time list at 28… Schelotto is 2 of 3 on penalties this year and 10 of 12 in his career, ranking second in team history to Brian McBride’s 11 of 13… Saturday’s 1-0 win marked the 11th anniversary of the opening of Crew Stadium. The Crew has won all three games played there on May 15 – the others were 2-0 against New England in 1999 and 2004… Hesmer’s 25 shutouts tie him with Jon Busch for the Crew career lead.