Matt Lampson was projected to be the Columbus Crew's third-string goalkeeper this season behind William Hesmer and Andy Gruenebaum, but injuries may have put him in position to make his first MLS start Wednesday at Philadelphia (8 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
Gruenebaum, who had played every minute since Hesmer was shelved for the year in preseason with hip surgery, left at halftime of Saturday’s match against New England with a lower back contusion. Lampson came on, acquitting himself well in the Crew’s 4-3 victory.
The Homegrown signee, who started six Reserve League matches, made three saves vs. New England, including two in stoppage time to preserve the victory. The only blemish was a Lee Nguyen penalty kick.
“I just did my job,” Lampson said afterward. “All things considered, they kept me safe in the back. They picked me up when I got scored on and we got the win. That’s most important.”
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that he is unsure if Gruenebaum will be available against the Union.
“He said he’s feeling much better than yesterday or the day before,” he said. “The way he is progressing he may play but we may not use him because we may need him for the next game.”
The Crew (10-8-6, 36 points) host Montreal on Saturday and can draw level with the sixth-place Impact with a win against Philadelphia. They’d still have three matches in hand on them as both teams vie for the fifth and final place spot in the Eastern Conference that is currently held by D.C. United (41 points).
Warzycha said a league goalkeeper has been requested as a possible backup Wednesday in case Gruenebaum does not travel.
A leg to stand on
When Warzycha joined the Crew as a player midway through the 1996 season, his set-piece prowess prompted T-shirts in Columbus that said “Bob the Free Kick Specialist.”
A new set may be in order after Federico Higuaín drilled two free-kick goals against the Revolution in just his third game. He also barely missed connecting against Houston on Aug. 19 in his debut.
“He has a natural swing that you don’t have to develop,” Warzycha said of the Argentine Designated Player, who on Monday was voted MLS Player of the Week. “You just have to have it and then you work on it and make it better.”
The coach said there’s no comparison between him and Higuain.
“I usually didn’t hit the target," Warzycha said. "He’s way better than me. The way he is hitting those free kicks, I haven’t seen a player like that for a long, long time. [David] Beckham can hit it. Probably [Brad] Davis can hit it and he’s next.”