Justin Meram

Crew falls to Dynamo in preseason finale

The Crew concluded its preseason trip to Arizona with a 4-2 setback to the Houston Dynamo Thursday afternoon (Feb. 17), and will now return to Columbus for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals against Real Salt Lake this Tuesday, Feb. 22.

The match was played in three 40-minute periods, with the Crew changing its lineup at the halfway point (after 60 minutes). The Dynamo opened the scoring early in the first period, when midfielder Danny Cruz redirected a Ray Burse clearance into the back of the net in the 8th minute. Houston doubled its lead in the 65th minute with a header by defender Eddie Robinson off a corner kick.

Forward Justin Meram got the Crew on the board in 78th minute, after beating the Dyanmo ‘keeper 1-v-1. Houston forward Brian Ching headed another corner past Crew trialist keeper Alex Riggs in the 90th minute and Meram responded four minutes later with a header off a Leandre Griffit cross. Jason Garey closed out Houston’s account by burying a penalty kick in the 102nd minute to produce the final margin.

The match was a very physical affair with six cautions and three ejections. Andres Mendoza was sent off early in the first period while the Dynamo’s Lovel Palmer and JeVaughn Watson were shown red cards in the second period. Both teams, however, were allowed to substitute the ejected players and continue the match with 11 players.

The Crew is now 1-3-1 in preseason play. Houston was coming off a 4-0 victory over FC Dallas Saturday (Feb. 12) in Corpus Christi, Texas, in its first MLS Exhibition of the preseason, and a 3-1 win over Sporting KC on Tuesday.

The Black & Gold will train in Columbus following the first leg of the CCL quarterfinal before traveling to Salt Lake City for the return fixture against Real Salt Lake on March 1. Following the trip to Utah, the Crew will travel to Atlanta for one final week of preparation before First Kick 2011. While in Georgia, the team will participate in the Atlanta Pro Soccer Challenge, a three-team round-robin tournament, hosted by the Women’s Professional Soccer’s Atlanta Beat, against the New England Revolution on March 11 and the Dynamo on March 13.

The Crew opens its 2011 MLS season on the road at RFK Stadium on Sat. March 19 as it visits D.C. United a week before the home opener against the New York Red Bulls on March 26 at 4 p.m. at Crew Stadium.

Scoring Summary:

HOU -- Danny Cruz (unassisted) 8
HOU -- Eddie Robinson (Brad Davis) 52
CLB -- Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor) 78
HOU -- Brian Ching (Mike Chabala) 91
CLB -- Justin Meram (Leandre Griffit) 95
HOU -- Jason Garey (penalty kick) 104

Columbus Crew – Ray Burse (Alex Riggs 61), Sebastian Miranda (Ben Sippola 61), Chad Marshall (Josh Williams 61), Andy Iro (Kwaku Nyamekye 61), Shaun Francis (Josh Gardner 8, Cory Elenio 78), Dilly Duka (Bernardo Anor 45, Eric Gehrig 107), Rich Balchan (Cole Grossman 61), Emmanuel Ekpo (Léandre Griffit 61), Robbie Rogers (Santiago Prim 61), Andres Mendoza (Jeff Cunningham 19, Andy Adlard 81), Emilio Renteria (Justin Meram 61).

Houston Dynamo
-- Tally Hall (Tyler Deric 41, Evan Newton 81), Kofi Sarkodie (Jordan Graye 61), Jermaine Taylor (Bobby Boswell 61), Eddie Robinson (Andrew Hainault (61), Hunter Freeman (Mike Chabala 61), Danny Cruz (Corey Ashe 61, Josue Soto 92), JeVaughn Watson (Alex Dixon 64), Geoff Cameron (Lovel Palmer 55, Richard Edwards 58), Brad Davis (Francisco Navas Cobo 61), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 61), Will Bruin (Jason Garey 61).

Misconduct Summary:
CLB -- Andres Mendoza (caution) 18
CLB -- Andres Mendoza (ejection) 18
HOU -- Jermaine Taylor (caution) 31
HOU -- Cam Weaver (caution) 33
CLB -- Emmanuel Ekpo (caution) 36
HOU -- Brad Davis (caution) 38
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (ejection) 58
HOU -- JeVaughn Watson (ejection) 64

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