The Crew got a welcome return to Columbus, taking down the expansion Montreal Impact 2-0 in front of 18,197 fans at Crew Stadium for the club's 2012 home opener. Just as the Black & Gold earned three points, here are three points to take from the victory:
1. A NEW FAN FAVORITE
Judging by the applause following his successful slide tackle from behind to dispossess an attacking Felipe Martins in the second minute, Crew fans are going to love offseason addition Milovan Mirosevic. The Chilean was solid defensively and a cataylst for the Crew attack throughout the match. In the 19th minute, Mirosevic drew a foul on a challenge in the air with Montreal defender Jeb Brovsky. Brovsky was sent off, leaving his team a man down. Just past the half-hour mark, Mirosevic buried the Crew's first goal of 2012 from the penalty spot after Emilio Rentería was brought down in the box to draw the penalty. Mirosevic continued to give the Impact back line trouble all day long, creating chances for Rentería and Olman Vargas playing in front of him.
If history speaks for itself, Crew fans should look forward to much of the same from Mirosevic in 2012. In his 14-plus year career in professional soccer, the Chilean playmaker has scored 82 goals playing for five different clubs.
2. THE TARGET UP TOP
Robert Warzycha's decision to pair Emilio Rentería up top with Olman Vargas in a 4-4-2 on Saturday paid off as Vargas provided an aerial threat for the Crew in the victory against Montreal. Vargas' 65th minute header past Donovan Ricketts courtesy of a Shaun Francis cross was a thing of beauty, impressing Warzycha and his teammates alike.
"The second goal was just beautiful," Warzycha said in his postgame press conference. "It was a good pass, a good cross, and I'm glad Olman (Vargas) had that goal. I thought that was really something."
Vargas' abilitiy in the air didn't seem to surprise Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who faces Vargas everyday in training.
"Vargas is great in the air," Gruenebaum praised his teammate. "I've seen him get up and when you think he's not going to get anything on the ball with his head, he hits it low with power and it goes where it needs to go."
3. COMPETITION BETWEEN THE POSTS
A brick wall in goal for the Crew all afternoon, Andy Gruenebuam's six-save performance against the Impact earned him his seventh career shutout. Gruenebaum got the nod in goal as William Hesmer, who suffered an ankle injury in preseason training, works his way back toward fitness. Hesmer played 45 minutes in the Crew's Reserve League opener on Saturday night.
Regardless of which netminder Robert Warzycha goes with next Saturday in Toronto, the two veteran goalkeepers will drive each other to be better through competition in training and will provide excellent leadership for rookie Homegrown signing Matt Lampson.