COLUMBUS, Ohio – To say Jairo Arrieta has been active in his first 13 games for the Columbus Crew would be an understatement.
Not only is the Costa Rican forward second on the team in goals (five), assists (four) and shots on goal (12), he also is the MLS leader in being called offside despite not playing his first match until July 14 vs. Sporting Kansas City.
He brought his total to 38 Wednesday after being flagged four times in the 1-0 win against Chivas USA.
“I need to do a better job, not be so desperate to get there,” he said through a translator after the game. “I’m going to keep working on it. It’s been only 13 games. I’m still learning the league.”
He is four ahead of D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario, who is out for the season with a knee injury, and countryman Álvaro Saborío of Real Salt Lake.
But Arrieta is well ahead in offside call per match (2.92) compared to De Rosario’s 1.3 in 26 games and the 1.21 in 28 matches for Saborio. The only one close among the leader is Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio, sixth with 30 in 13 games for a 2.3 average.
“The calls have been made,” Arrieta said. “I need to improve my runs.”
The Crew (13-10-6) will take the infractions if he continues to shine, especially since the arrival of forward Federico Higuaín eight games ago.
The Argentine Designated Player has three goals and six assists and although he did not get one Wednesday, he was instrumental in setting up the winner by Justin Meram in the 89th minute. It was Higuaín's cross to Arrieta that resulted in a shot on goal, a rebound back to Arrieta that he headed to Meram for the score.
“[Arrieta and Higuaín] understand the game so well,” midfielder Tony Tchani said. “Higuaín is a tricky player who can make the final pass. They’ve both helped this team.”
Posting a clean sheet
Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made a triumphant return Wednesday after he was pulled late in last weekend's match at New York, where he hit the left post head-on while trying to stop a shot.
“I didn’t even think about it,” he told MLSsoccer.com after making five saves vs. Chivas USA. “It’s happened once in my 29 years so the probability of it happening again, knock on wood, is not good.”
On Wednesday, he earned his eighth shutout of the season, although it was the first in 11 games.
“We talked about communication, battling for each other; things we were doing earlier on that made us successful,” Gruenebaum said. “We did that again [Wednesday].”
After four saves in the first 15 minutes, he only had to make one the rest of the way.
“The guys made it easy for me,” he said. “The first half Chivas was solid. The second half, we limited what they did.”