COLUMBUS – As far as the Crew are concerned, the turning point in Saturday night's 1-0 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps was not Young-Pyo Lee's 74th minute goal.
It also wasn’t the bicycle kick by Crew defender Josh Williams that hit the crossbar in the 16th minute, or the goal by Eddie Gaven that was quickly and emphatically waved off 10 minutes earlier because the midfielder was deemed offside.
No, the Crew felt it was the disallowed marker by Williams from a corner kick just three minute after kickoff which set the tone for a frustrating match, the fourth in a row without a victory (watch the play here).
Williams raced into the goal box and roofed a corner kick from Milovan Mirosevic. He was ready to celebrate his first career MLS goal when referee Hilario Grajeda, subbing for Elias Bazakos, signaled a foul on the Crew.
The word in the press box was that the infraction was called on Crew captain Chad Marshall as he got into a position battle with Vancouver defender Jay DeMerit.
If that was the case, no one on the Crew was told.
“That’s mind boggling,” Marshall said after the match. “The explanation I got was everybody was grabbing everybody. That’s what the ref told me. He didn’t say it was on me.”
Because the Crew (2-4-1) are struggling offensively – they have scored just six goals in seven matches – any goal that’s denied is magnified.
The Crew dominated for long stretches in what many players say was their top performance of 2012. But they came up empty again.
“It was our best game during the season,” Mirosevic said. “Incredibly we lose it. Of course, we’re frustrated. I felt we had the ball the whole time. Football is like this. They had only one chance, if you can call it a chance. It was a bit of luck.”
Even Vancouver coach Martin Rennie thought Lee's looping 24-yard goal was really a cross, but that was of little consolation.
“I got caught maybe taking a step forward then couldn’t get my body back and was stuck just jumping straight up,” goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. “I don’t know if he hits it a few more times if he even comes close to that. I don’t think he meant to do that.
“My positioning was where I’d probably play it again. I don’t think I can be any deeper and give up the near post. It’s a difficult area. The guys played really hard and that killed the momentum.”