Photo by Greg Bartram/USA Today Sports Images
By DAN KARELL
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second consecutive week, the Columbus Crew’s offense came to life.
Receiving contributions from unsung heroes Justin Meram, Adam Bedell, and Aaron Schoenfeld, the Crew easily dispatched the Dynamo, 3-0, on a warm, muggy Saturday evening in front of 17,551 fans at Crew Stadium. The win was the Crew’s fourth in their last six games, putting the club comfortably in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Dynamo meanwhile were without Designated Player DaMarcus Beasley, who was a late scratch after picking up a hamstring knock in training this week.
“I thought it was a very solid performance,” Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said following the match. “Today, against Houston, an Eastern Conference opponent, who’s on our heels in the table, I thought this was a very strong performance both defensively and offensively.”
Both the Crew and Dynamo had glorious chances to score the first goal of the match but couldn’t convert. Dynamo forward Will Bruin was put through on goal in the 18th minute but the ball bounced up on him at the final second and Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark made a huge save to deny the former Indiana Hoosier.
The Crew meanwhile had a wonderful opportunity five minutes later, as Federico Higuain played winger Ethan Finlay into space on the right wing. Finlay crossed into the middle to Bedell, who headed down into the path of Higuain inside the 6-yard box.
Higuain, however, somehow managed to head the ball over the bar, ruining a great chance on goal.
The Crew finally did get on the board in the 35th minute off a mistake by Dynamo defender David Horst. Horst’s pass down the middle was taken by Meram, who cut past one defender and clinically fired home to put the Crew into the lead.
“I’m getting a little bit fitter, which kind of helps my mind out,” Meram explained. “(I’m) getting a little bit decisive, getting a little bit more freedom, and you see when I’m getting the ball I’m going back to my old self of (being) crafty and playing simple, knowing when to dribble and knowing when not to.”
There wasn’t much of a change in the second half, as the Crew were able to establish their tempo and work the ball from left to right without a lot of problem. The Dynamo’s lack of pressure in midfield led to the Crew’s second and third goals of the night, which put the match away.
In the 59th minute, Meram this time played provider as he cut towards midfield and crossed into the middle of the box with his right foot. Bedell beat Horst to the ball and headed home past Hall. It was the last touch of the ball for Bedell, as he came off for Schoenfeld seconds after scoring.
“You take a look (towards the sidelines) once in a while. I’ve been coming off in the 60th or 65th minute for all my starts, so I knew it was coming. From the corner kick, Eric (Gehrig) flicked it to the back post and (Meram) picked it up so we recycled our runs and made a nice back post run and he found me.”
Three minutes later, Waylon Francis was put through down the left wing and sent a beautiful curling cross in towards Schoenfeld, who confidently sent a header in for the third goal of the night.
The Dynamo had a couple of more chances to score a goal but some last ditch defending by Tyson Wahl and Michael Parkhurst, in the absence of Giancarlo Gonzalez, helped the Crew keep a clean sheet.
“(Houston) didn’t create many chances and I think that’s what I’m most pleased with,” Berhalter said. “And for us, our ability to keep the ball, keep moving the ball around, and our passing accuracy was really high, it was good.”
In the 86th minute, new Crew signing Romain Gall made his professional debut, coming on for Meram. On his first touch, Gall dribbled through three players and played a through ball to Schoenfeld, but Schoenfeld was ruled offside.
Here are the match highlights: