Justin Meram

USOC: Crew reserves rue lost chance for more minutes

There shouldn’t be any lingering damage from a team standpoint following the Columbus Crew’s shocking meltdown in Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

The personal disappointment, however? That might last a little bit.

By giving up two goals in the final 11 minutes for a 2-1 loss to the visiting Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro, the Crew also lost the opportunity to advance to the fourth round June 5 at the Michigan Bucks, surprising 3-2 winners over the Chicago Fire.

Gone, too, was the opportunity for the young and inexperienced players such as rookie goalkeeper Matt Lampson to gain invaluable minutes outside of the remaining six MLS Reserve League matches. He has yet to appear in a MLS match.

“It’s devastating for me as player to develop,” Lampson said. “That being said, I don’t think I played poorly. I got beat by two excellent goals.”

Coach Robert Warzycha likes to use the Open Cup as a testing ground to see how players react to pressure that can’t be found in training or the reserve games. If they do well he will reward them by maintaining the same players in the lineup at the expense of more established ones even as the team moves deeper into the competition.

Two years ago, backup goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum played the entire Cup run – including the final – although starter William Hesmer was available. Lampson was hoping for a similar chance. 

“I wish I could get extra minutes in the Open Cup, but unfortunately that’s not the case now,” he said.

There was disappointment in the quiet postgame locker room because Warzycha put the onus on the mainly young group to get the victory.

“He put the eggs in our basket,” defender Eric Gehrig said. “He trusted us to get the job done and at the end of the day we didn’t. It’s going to hurt for awhile.”

Dayton didn’t even attempt a shot until the 79th minute when Jan Gerrit Bartels scored to counter an Olman Vargas penalty kick in the 64th. The Dutch Lions’ second shot was the winner by Gibson Bardsley in the 81st minute.

The Crew – 5-4-3 and unbeaten in five league matches – do not have an MLS game until June 16, although the reserves host New England on June 10.

Columbus played for the fourth time in 10 days and were coming off a tie at San Jose, and wins at Seattle and against Chicago and looked to sustain the momentum.

“We’ve gone through a tough stretch and done pretty well,” Gehrig added. “This is a letdown. This is going to sting but it’s not going to affect us going into the game on the 16th.”


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