Watching the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy do battle it last Saturday it was tough to believe that both these teams missed the playoffs last year. The Crew and Galaxy have boasted exciting attacking soccer this year and they both look to have the firepower to reach the post-season in 2008.
The Galaxy will feel a little unlucky after tying the Crew 3-3, especially when it held the lead lead only to have a relatively unknown Crew player step up and deliver the equalizer. Steven Lenhart’s goal gave the Crew a point and a reason to believe they’re ready to get back to the winning ways of the early season.
SBI correspondent Rich Fidler took in the action and gave us his report (Galaxy correspondent Nathan Henderson-James was at his brother’s wedding and was unable to provide a report this week.).
Things turning around for revived Crew
By RICH FIDLER
What a difference a few weeks make, because following a 3-3 tie against the LA Galaxy on Saturday night I wasn’t as disappointed as you might think, especially when you consider a full healthy Galaxy squad couldn’t hold any type of lead against the Crew.
The visitors fell down early thanks to a combination of terrible goalkeeping and a slight "nudge" from Landon Donovan in just the fourth minute. It was Donovan who undercut Will Hesmer when he came too claim a David Beckham cross, causing the keeper to spill the ball and he easily tapped in the loose ball for the one goal lead. The Crew continued to battle and found themselves pushing for the equalizer before halftime.
The second half started much like the first, with an early Galaxy goal thanks to former Crew forward and Class A driver Edson Buddle. The Crew’s Sigi Schmid certainly couldn’t have imagined anything like this – and as a fan I immediately thought of the last several seasons when a goal like this would certainly doom the Black and Gold. It was at this point I thought maybe it was time to call it a night and hit the "Power Off" button on the remote.
And when the Crew’s Alejandro Moreno nearly put his one-on-one breakaway with the keeper out for a throw-in – he missed by 20 yards wide of the goal – I think I put my head on the pillow and began to nod away. That was until Brad Evans pounced on a rebound in the box to give the Crew hope for more points on the road. Just a few minutes later Robbie Rogers tore through the penalty area past an obviously aging and slow Chris Klein. He had no choice but to take town the California native in the penalty area. Guillermo Barros Schelotto stepped to the spot and pounded the ball down the middle to do the unthinkable, bring the Crew back from a two goal deficit.
With the remote control laying back on the bed, the curse words flew when Beckham took a dive in the penalty area in the 83rd minute and bald official Mark Geiger pointed to the spot. It was unfortunate for Danny O’Rourke that he was near the million dollar star when he took his 9.6 scoring effort – and Donovan stepped up to the spot to put it past Hesmer.
Not to worry as the Crew continued to push forward and second-half substitute Steven Lenhart put home yet another rebound off Frankie Hejduk’s initial shot. It stunned the Home Depot Center crowd and much to the smirk of a very tired Crew fan – the forward made sure to let his feelings known to the silent and shocked crowd in his home state. It was a wonderful finale for a game that almost had me asleep, but then awake and cheering within minutes of each other.
Time to welcome the team home for a game against the struggling Colorado Rapids, least us not forget the last bad western conference team to come to Columbus Crew Stadium – they left with a stunning 2-0 victory, hopefully Sigi and the boys have a remedy.