COLUMBUS, Ohio – Anyone who knows Polish-bred Crew coach Robert Warzycha understands that he has a certain way of viewing the game.
He’s not big on celebratory dances after goals or players drawing attention to themselves. He thinks opponents who feign injury or flop to the ground when barely touched, especially those he’s come across in the CONCACAF Champions League competition, are clowns.
Call it old school.
So it was no surprise that he was unhappy that his star forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto yielded a stoppage time penalty kick to Steven Lenhart. It was Lenhart, who has been stuck on one goal since May 1, who drew the foul and Schelotto thought converting the PK would boost his confidence.
It was a noble gesture, and it shows why Schelotto is revered in the locker room.
Lenhart’s weak attempt was easily stopped by D.C. United’s Troy Perkins and it didn’t change the 2-0 victory for the Crew, but that didn’t matter to Warzycha, who had a discussion with Schelotto on the field after the game.
“He’s not angry, but he said to be professional until the last second on the field,” Schelotto said.
Two days removed, Warzycha is amazed anyone is still talking about it.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I [asked] the player why he did that, and he explained it to me. That’s all. We didn’t argue. We didn’t throw punches.”
Warzycha’s mistake was not making it a private matter away from media scrutiny.
He’s right that it’s a non-issue, but he should be annoyed that Schelotto didn’t take the penalty.
After all, Schelotto needs the practice. He has missed two of his past four attempts in MLS: Oct. 3 vs. Seattle Sounders FC and April 10 at FC Dallas, although on the latter he scored on his rebound.
HE’S A KEEPER: William Hesmer made five saves for his fifth shutout of the season and is on pace to break the team record of 10 first set by Jon Busch in 2004 and tied four years later by Hesmer when the Crew won the MLS Cup.
The Crew (7-2-3) has 18 games remaining.
Hesmer also added to his Crew record 27 clean sheets (plus one with Kansas City).
His 0.92 goals against average is third-best in the league and would break the Crew season standard of 0.95 he set last year for keepers with 10 or more games.
Brad Friedel sported a 0.78 in nine games in 1996. The Aston Villa standout and Ohio native was at Saturday’s game.
GOAT TO HERO: Defender Eric Brunner nearly put the Crew down 1-0 in the 38th minute when his lazy header back to Hesmer was easily read and intercepted by Adam Cristman. Hesmer was forced to come to the top of the penalty area to deny Cristman.
Brunner made up for the blunder with a header off Schelotto’s corner for his first goal of the season in the 87th minute to make it 2-0.
HERO TO GOAT: Lenhart was ablaze off the bench after losing his starting job to Jason Garey. In addition to getting the penalty call his flick to Brunner at the far post set up the goal.
However, the missed PK was a lasting image from the game.
“I’m bummed I missed it, but I’m moving on. We won. That’s cool,” he said.
AHEAD: The Crew host the Rochester Rhinos in a round of 16 match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday. The Crew lost to them on penalty kicks last season so Lenhart may get another chance.
Columbus play the visiting Chicago Fire on Saturday.
A NUMBER OF THINGS: Saturday marked only the second time since Schelotto joined the team on May 5, 2007, that he did not take a penalty while in a game. The first was Aug. 11 that season at FC Dallas when Andy Herron was successful.
Until Lenhart’s attempt, only two players other than Schelotto had taken PKs in a league match since Herron’s goal. On Sept. 13, 2009, Eddie Gaven converted the winner in stoppage time vs. Houston after Schelotto had been replaced, and exactly one year earlier at Toronto FC, an injured Schelotto did not dress so Alejandro Moreno tried from the spot and failed.
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