COLUMBUS – The Vancouver Whitecaps used another solid defensive effort and a late goal by defender Young-Pyo Lee to defeat the Columbus Crew 1-0 in a tight contest on Saturday night at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Lee lined up 25 yards out from goal on the right side and looped a free kick toward the far post. Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum misread the ball as he backpedaled and tried to deflect the shot with his left hand but the ball settled into the upper left corner.
Vancouver (4-2-2, 14 points), who registered their sixth shutout in eight matches this season, has now won two straight heading into a home match on May 5 against San Jose.
Columbus (2-4-1, 7 points) has three losses and a tie in the past four games and was blanked for the third time in 2012. They play at Portland on May 5.
The match was full of energy and action from the first touch and the Crew thought it had broken through only three minutes in when defender Josh Williams blasted home a corner kick by Milovan Mirosevic. But teammate Chad Marshall was whistled for grabbing defender Jay DeMerit and the goal was called back.
A short time later Eddie Gaven put the ball into the back of the net, but he was ruled offside off a pass from Aaron Schoenfeld.
The first “real” scoring chance came from the Whitecaps in the 10th minute when Matt Watson broke from a scramble and fired at Gruenebaum, who came off the line to make the stop with his feet. The rebound popped to Sebastien Le Toux but the Frenchman's putback went flying out of bounds.
That would be the Whitecaps' last good look of the first half as they withstood several close calls at the other end.
Gaven’s 11th minute header from a Schoenfeld cross was flicked over the goal and five minutes later it was Williams’ turn for a second crack at the goal as he watched his bicycle kick attempt smacked off the crossbar.
The Crew had trouble penetrating a stingy and orderly Vancouver backline and they relied on a 35-yarder skipping strike by Gaven that goalkeeper Joe Cannon got a left hand on in the 38th minute and Schoenfeld’s shot from the top of the penalty area was also denied by the ‘keeper in full stretch just before the break.
The Crew made only one lineup change from their 2-2 tie with Houston as Schoenfeld replaced Emilio Renteria for the second time in three games. Although he had a strong showing in attack, an apparent right ankle injury forced him out of the match in the second half and the Crew's attack fizzled after his exit.
Vancouver Coach Martin Rennie returned forward Eric Hassli to the first XI with Camilo out due to a right quadriceps strain.
Before their MLS match next weekend the Whitecaps travel to face FC Edmonton in their opening match of the Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday, May 2 (10 p.m. ET, Rogers Sportsnet).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Joe Cannon||Came up with two big saves and played an overall solid match to notch yet another clean sheet|
|2||Jun Marques Davidson||Work may go unnoticed but in a defensive effort like Vancouver's in Columbus, plugged holes and intercepted Crew attack on multiple occasions|
|3||Aaron Schoenfeld||Before an apparent ankle injury forced him out of the match, he was the most dangerous player on the field. Enterprising, tireless. Made things happen|