William Hesmer knows there’s something special about setting the Crew mark for career shutouts against the team that discarded him four years ago.
He made six saves and got help from the frame for the second time in four days on Sunday, as the Crew won their fourth straight match with a 1-0 victory over Kansas City at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
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His fourth shutout of the season was also his 26th in a Crew uniform, breaking a tie with Jon Busch on the club’s all-time list. Hesmer, who has been battling back pain, also had one shutout in three starts with KC over three years before being chosen by Toronto FC in the 2006 expansion draft.
He was traded to the Crew shortly thereafter, along with defender Danny O’Rourke.
“I still have a lot of friends on the team,” Hesmer said. “It’s not bitterness like I want to beat my old team. It’s more like you don’t want your friends to beat you.”
The Crew are 6-0-2 and atop the Eastern Conference with their best start in team history, but the win was not without a cost.
O’Rourke suffered a quadriceps strain and was replaced by Gino Padula in the 49th minute. Holding midfielder Brian Carroll sprained his left ankle and was subbed by Duncan Oughton in the 67th.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha said both are questionable for next Saturday’s match against the unbeaten Los Angeles Galaxy (8-0-2) at Crew Stadium.
The injuries forced Warzycha to make substitutions, but the one he planned paid off for the second match in a row.
Emilio Renteria, who came off the bench Thursday at New York and scored his first MLS goal to seal the Crew’s 3-1 win, was called upon again Sunady, this time for right wing Emmanuel Ekpo in the 59th minute.
“I don’t make substitutions just to be making them,” Warzycha said. “You want a guy to come off the bench and give the team a boost and give a team some energy. He did that.”
In the 63rd minute, Renteria got on the end of a left corner kick from Guillermo Barros Schelotto and was unmarked to put a header inside the near post for the deciding score.
“He’s an animal,” defender Jed Zayner said of Renteria. “He comes in, keeps people off the ball, goes for goal and shields the ball. He’s giving us a lift right now.”
It was a sweet return for Schelotto, who missed the New York match while serving a one-game suspension for throwing an elbow in May 15 match against Chivas USA. In his absence, Eddie Gaven’s corner set up Andy Iro for the second goal against the Red Bulls and first of the season for the Crew from a set piece.
Gaven also opened the ledger against New York and looked like he was going to do the same Sunday when Schelotto sent him free on the left side of the penalty area. But Gaven did not have a good angle on the breakaway chance, and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made a nice kick save with the left leg.
“It was a really good ball from [Schelotto],” Gaven said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t hit it well but I’m glad we got one later.”
The Wizards were particularly effective around the halftime break. Davy Arnaud took a layoff from ex-Crew Kei Kamara in the 45th minute and blistered a strike off the left post as Hesmer’s good fortune continued: New York was denied by two posts and a crossbar.
“You’re not beaten until you’re beaten and the ball goes in the net,” Hesmer said.