COLUMBUS – Timing was everything on many fronts for Crew midfielder Leandre Griffit.
He made his MLS debut against the club that didn’t want to sign him in the preseason and had just a few minutes to show the Crew Stadium crowd Saturday what he could do.
Griffit entered in the 88th minute and 120 seconds later scored the final goal of a 3-0 victory over Houston. Not bad for the former English Premier League player (Southampton, 2003-06) who joined the Crew for training in April and was signed May 13.
“It was a long wait. I was working really hard to be here,” he said. “The coach gave me the time, two minutes, so I had to prove (myself) in two minutes.”
Griffit, 26, found a rebound to the left of the goal and the flashy Frenchman had one thought.
"I have one chance to score, I’m going to score," he said. "You come in for two minutes. You score. You go home. It was perfect.”
He expressed no added satisfaction scoring against the Dynamo.
“I’m not like this,” he said.
He was excited, though for another reason. His brother, sister and her boyfriend were in Columbus the past two weeks and are scheduled to leave Sunday.
“It was special because my family was here,” Griffit said. “It was a perfect last day for them.”
Actually, Griffit was just happy to get on the field after some frustrating moments.
“I’m not like a rookie. I’m used to a big team,” he said. “When I came I was thinking to play within few weeks but everything is different here – the food, the life, the unity. For two months it was really tough for me.
“You think you’re good but you miss something all the time,” he added.” The coach did a good thing making me wait. Now I’m at the top of my fitness.”
He was one of several new faces that could make the Crew (10-3-4) even more dangerous.
Rookie left back Shaun Francis, after making his league debut off the bench in the previous match vs. New York, went 90 minutes against the Dynamo in place of healthy scratch Gino Padula.
“When your first start is against Houston it’s a testament to him,” defender Andy Iro said. “He’s obviously come on really quickly. The development’s been there. He’s quick. He’s athletic. He’s strong and willing to listen and fight. He adds a little bit forward as well. Once these games hit in August we’re going to need him.”
Adding to the newer blood in the lineup was forward Emilio Renteria, who scored for a second game in a row and has four on the season but none have come easier than the open netter in the 34th minute for a 1-0 lead.
Houston backup goalkeeper Tally Hall fell down trying to get to a loose ball outside the box and Renteria used three touches before slotting the ball.
“We had spoken about that before,” Renteria said. “The goalie is new. He can make a lot of mistakes and to follow the play. That’s how I scored that goal.”
The Crew won its second straight despite missing suspended defender Frankie Hejduk and injured midfielder Brian Carroll.
It didn’t matter.
“The players we put on the field contributed,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We put a lot behind who we are going to play and how we are going to play. Sometimes it’s very dangerous. If everything works you look good.”