COLUMBUS – The rumblings began after the Crew incurred a 2-0 smackdown at Real Salt Lake on Aug. 14:
“Columbus is on the downside. They’ve got no shot at winning the Supporters’ Shield or holding off New York in the East.”
“Schelotto has lost a step and is showing his age. The king is dead.”
Hold the obits for now.
With Saturday’s 1-0 victory at D.C. United, the Crew (13-5-5) moved into a tie with Los Angeles for the overall points lead, a single point ahead of Real Salt Lake, with seven games left. The Galaxy host the Crew on Saturday.
[inline_node:317124]“I’m not chasing LA,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “I’m not chasing anybody. We’re trying to win the games and get some points.”
It’s been a steady ascent after trailing LA by 11 points at the start of play on June 26.
“They seemed to be so far ahead of everybody the whole year, so we didn’t worry much about anybody else,” Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer said.
Since the Crew slinked out of Rio Tinto Stadium last month it has gone 4-1-1 in all competitions and booked a spot in the U.S. Open Cup final Oct. 5 at Seattle.
Schelotto, 37, has been a factor in the surge. He had the overtime winner on a penalty kick vs. D.C. on Wednesday in the Open Cup semifinal and the only goal in the rematch three days later.
He played all 120 minutes in the first game and wasn’t substituted until stoppage time on Saturday.
“He’s extremely fit for what he has to do,” Crew midfielder Kevin Burns said. “He’s a legend. He’s been the guy for a long time for a reason. He always keeps his body in good shape.”
On the goal Saturday, Schelotto took advantage of a poor back pass by Clyde Simms to goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who mis-hit the clearance.
A gift? Yes, but Schelotto read the situation and knew the rough ground could produce a bad bounce.
“The team was pressuring far up; I pressured too,” he said. “Luckily, I pressured to the point where I was able to take it away from the goalie and scored.”
Schelotto worked both ends of the field the entire match.
[inline_node:313347]“He’s smart,” Hesmer said. “People think at that age you shouldn’t be competing anymore but he knows when to run and not to run, when to rest and not to rest. He’s wily. He’s not new to this game.”
The Crew’s only concern is keeping him healthy at this stage of the season. In 2007 and ’08 he missed three September games each year because of hamstring problems. He sat four games last year from July 18 to Aug. 8 with more hamstring issues.
Hesmer empathized with the 19-year-old Hamid after his mistake. “You don’t want to see anybody have a bad gaffe like that,” Hesmer said. “He’s a young kid. It could happen to anybody. He’s a good goalkeeper. Hopefully, he’ll put it behind him.”
A NUMBER OF THINGS
15 – Shutouts. D.C. United and baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers lead their respective leagues in times being blanked. The difference is D.C. have done it in 23 games. LA have played 137.
0 – Road wins for the Crew vs. the Western Conference. They are 0-3-4.