COLUMBUS – It wasn’t the infamous “Hand of God” goal that will forever be linked to countryman Diego Maradona, but fellow countryman Guillermo Barros Schelotto had his own “Fist of Guille'” moment Saturday night in Crew Stadium.
His controversial goal in the 57th minute provided the Crew’s winning margin, and he later assisted on an insurance tally by Eric Brunner in the 2-0 victory over D.C. United to snap a three-game winless streak.
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Schelotto was standing just off the goal line when a shot by Emilio Renteria hit the left post, richoted off his right hand then landed in front of him for the easy tap-in.
Afterward, Schelotto owned up to the play but said it was purely unintentional.
“The ball hit my arm after the post,” he said. “I was surprised, but I don’t know if the ref saw the play. Maybe he understands the ball hit me. I had no intention to settle the ball next to me.”
Schelotto immediately looked to referee Terry Vaughn after the ball went in and was relieved that it counted, despite the protests of the D.C. United players.
“I don’t know,” Schelotto said. “Maybe (Vaughn) thought I put the hands with intentions and he may say foul or maybe he understands the ball hit me in the arm and that was it.”
The goal broke open an up-and-down match that featured 39 shots (24-15, Columbus). The Crew also had nine of the 14 that went on goal.
“I wasn’t happy about the first half, but I was pretty happy with the second half,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “I’m giving credit to D.C. in the first half because they were better organized and we couldn’t break them down. We were possessing the ball, but they were managing to win the middle third and from that point on they were very dangerous.”
Schelotto’s left corner kick in the 87th minute was flicked across the goalmouth by Steven Lenhart to the head of Brunner for the defender’s first goal of the season.
It was an important goal not only because it iced the game, but it came after the Crew (7-2-3) did not score off 15 corner kicks in the previous home game, a 2-0 loss to the Galaxy.
Schelotto was also involved in a mini-controversy after Lenhart drew a penalty in stoppage time.
Lenhart has just one goal this season, and Schelotto thought the forward could get a confidence boost by scoring from the spot.
Lenhart, however, was denied by United goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
“I went to him and said, ‘Maybe you should take this penalty,’ ” Schelotto said. “He needs to relax next time and set the ball in the corner, not the middle.”
“In my mind, Steven shouldn’t take the penalty,” Warzycha said. “I don’t know why he put the team in a situation like this. If it’s 3-0, it’s 3-0, then they are not going to come back from 3-0 down.”
The Crew were a little discombobulated in the first half as Warzycha shuffled the lineup in the continued absence of injured right back Frankie Hejduk.
Moffat, a center midfielder, moved to a hybrid right back, playing deep defensively but moving up field on the attack in the support of new right winger Emilio Renteria. He took Eddie Gaven’s spot and Gaven moved into Moffat’s former midfield position.
“We thought Emilio would be effective on the right side with his speed and energy,” Warzycha said. “In the second half we came back with more energy and movement on the ball. We created some chances and we managed to score two goals.”