7:30 p.m. Welcome once again to Columbus Crew Stadium, where the weather is sublime and attendance looks to be the best of the season. And no wonder: Hated rival D.C. United is in town. They're 0-2 so far, so there's no good reason for the Crew to lose this match. It's a real gut-check game for both teams, obviously-the Crew is desperate for a home win after two draws so far, and with zero points up til now, DC is desperate for just about anything. Should be a dogfight.
7:30 p.m. Welcome once again to Columbus Crew Stadium, where the weather is sublime and attendance looks to be the best of the season. And no wonder: Hated rival D.C. United is in town. They’re 0-2 so far, so there’s no good reason for the Crew to lose this match. It’s a real gut-check game for both teams, obviously—the Crew is desperate for a home win after two draws so far, and with zero points up til now, DC is desperate for just about anything. Should be a dogfight.
7:32 The Crew starting lineup: Andy Gruenebaum, Frankie Hejduk, Marcos Gonzalez, Ezra Hendrickson, Rusty Pierce, Joseph Ngwenya, Ned Grabavoy, Danny O’Rourke, Eddie Gaven, Ricardo Virtuoso, Kei Kamara. (Andy Herron, who has been starting at forward and midfield, is suspended multiple games for an elbow-to-the-face incident last week against New England’s Jay Heaps.)
7:33 DC is wearing maroon jerseys tonight in honor of the VT tragedy. Your United starters: Troy Perkins, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Devon McTavish, Fred (no last name for this fella), Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Joshua Gros, Luciano Emilio, Jamie Moreno.
7:36 We have kickoff. DC gets the first offensive push of the game, but it’s nothing special.
7:38 Somebody in the press box asks “Do they really not make anybody tuck their shirts in?” Good point—with three or four guys untucked, the Crew looks pretty schlubby. Not in terms of execution, though; they get their first offensive surge, with a couple dangerous balls in the box and a header that was immediately stymied by the DC defense. Still, in the opening minutes, the team is making Tuesday’s Open Cup snoozefest seem like an aberration.
7:41 Ngwenya makes a strong run up the right side and feeds Kamara with authority, but Kei’s touch is clumsy, sending the ball vertical and allowing the DC defense to step in.
7:43 Olsen strips Ngwenya and drives down the left side, but he doesn’t get much help from his team and eventually dribbles away what could have been a nice chance for DC.
7:44 Ngwenya hits Gaven with an ace give-and-go. Gaven is fouled, setting up a dangerous free kick for the Crew.Virtusoso’s initial strike careens off the wall to O’Rourke, whose half-volley floats limply high and wide.
7:46 Ngwenya tries to catch Perkins out of his net with a long cross/shot thingy. It goes over the bar, but assuming it really was a shot, it was a good idea. If it was supposed to be a service, he needs to work on that. Still, he’s been the most exciting offensive player on the pitch in the first 10 minutes.
7:51 O’Rourke keeps trying these ill-advised long shots. Did he used to score a lot of goals that way at IU?
7:52 Super-dangerous attack for DC. If Emilio pulls the trigger from the 18, he has a clear path to the back right corner of the net. He can’t get off the shot in time, so Ngwenya slides into his path and diffuses the situation.
7:54 Good long ball to Kamara, who stays onside. His indecisive cross/change of fields move gets intercepted but sent out for a Crew throw-in. They maintain possession and pass around the perimeter until DC steals it by fouling. Free kick.
7:56 Grabavoy is blocked by the one-man wall. Crew attack goes on. Slick ball from Virtuoso to Grabavoy in the left corner, but it amounts to nothing.
7:57 Frankie Hejduk is a pimp! He comes careening in to save a ball that should have gone to DC, allowing Ngwenya to send in a cross. The rebound comes out to Hejduk, whose cross gets on the end of a Kamara shot. Perkins has the save, but the Crew’s effort is inspiring.
7:59 Carroll picks up a yellow for roughing up Grabavoy. The free-kick is a bit long, but DC is forced to clear for a Crew corner kick.
8:00 Virtuoso’s corner meets Gaven in the same way Hejduk and Kamara combined earlier, with Gaven sort of running sideways into the cross and getting off a shot. It’s wide right, though.
8:02 My friend Lindsey calls to update me on the Cavs game and suggest that Cleveland may be playing dirty. Also, they seem to have squandered their double-digit lead. Back to soccer…
8:04 Crew goal! Ngwenya gets a feed down the left with an array of three unmarked options across the goal and Perkins out of net. Ezra’s shot is blocked by DC’s McTavish, but on second effort, the tall, veteran defender converts.
8:05 Play resumes. After a DC attack, play returns to midfield, and Kamara ends up writhing on the ground. He’s walking off the pitch, but he looks like he won’t need a sub.
8:08 I got up to grab a bite of lasagna and check the Cavs game (still not put away, but looking more secure). Nobody scored while I was up.
8:11 Virtuoso has been cherry-picking down the left flank for a while. He finally got called for it. Also: Time for the WILD BEAN SHOOTOUT!
8:14 DC scores! On a handball! So they don’t count it. Whew. No Diego Maradona/Sneaky Pete action tonight. Emilio picks up a yellow for his offense.
8:15 Gomez threatens with a strike from the 18 that just barely sails over the crossbar.
8:17 Nice drive from the right into the middle by Gaven, capped by a shot that Perkins handles. That was nice, but he still seems to lack that fiery unpredictability that made him so much fun to watch when he entered the league at 16.
8:18 Dandy Andy comes WAY out of his box to slide the ball into safety, then stands up for the clearing pass. “It’s not like he’s gonna get benched this game,” the peanut gallery chimes in. True; backup Bill Gaudette is hurt, and the team’s goalkeeper coach filled in this week in practice.
8:19 So you don’t think he never does anything good, I’ll mention that Pierce just got a good win.
8:20 A Fred cross just makes me think of Redd Kross.
8:21 DC gets some quality time in and around the box, but the ultimate shot ends up being a looping volley that’s no trouble for Dandy Andy.
8:24 Not much has happened in these three minutes of stoppage time, but the Crew gets a close free kick from the right to finish out the stanza. Virtuoso’s killer cross is intercepted by Perkins, ending the half. Solid stanza from the Crew. See you in the second half…
8:42 We’re back, three minutes into the second half. Thoughts from my halftime stroll around the stadium:
•Between the bigger crowd, the gorgeous weather and the shouting contest between Crew fans and visiting DC supporters, this is how going to a Crew game used to feel.
•That Joseph Ngwenya basketball-soccer commercial gets weirder and weirder the farther we get from March Madness.
•Virtuoso hasn’t been the force he was last week. Maybe he’s saving himself for the second half?
•Hejduk in the offense = essential.
•I have to root for Brady Quinn now? Sorry, wrong sport.
8:45 Moreno gets a pass from the right into Fred in the box. He’s in dangerous position. He shoots, but Gonzalez blocks the attempt. Go-go-Gonzalez.
8:46 Phantom offside call on Ngwenya. Chatter in the press box suggests they might have been penalizing Kamara, which would make sense because there’s no way Ngwenya was offside.
8:49 Gaven tries a bicycle kick. It doesn’t work, but those are always fun.
8:50 Fred picks up a yellow card for crushing Pierce. A few minutes ago Ezra acquired a yellow as well.
8:51 Grabavoy’s service meets somebody’s head (O’Rourke?) but it goes over the top.
8:52 Another yellow! This time it’s Gomez—for diving in the box. Hilarious.
8:53 Another mega-long cross from Ngwenya. Not his strong suit. On the ensuing DC breakaway, Pierce races back to break up the play. Perhaps he was out of position in the first place, but either way, good D there. This is Pierce’s best game of the year so far.
8:54 Emilio shoots from way out. Much like Bonesaw, Dandy Andy is ready.
8:55 Gaven lets a cross sail just between his head and the goalmouth. Virtuoso’s volley is folley.
8:56 Stefani Miglioranzi enters for Virtuoso. Guess that shoots my “saving himself” theory to hell.
8:57 Gaven takes a field-changing cross on the full volley and sends it comically high and wide in the other direction. It was cartoon quality.
8:59 Gonzalez is such a rock on defense.
9:00 It’s not raining, but lightning keeps striking. I’m surprised they haven’t called off the game.
9:01 Moreno schools some Crew defenders, then Ezra throws him down like a brute. Also, that was some SERIOUS lightning just now.
9:02 Gomez’ free kick looked to be curving into the right corner of the net, but Dandy Andy parried it wide and back into play.
9:03 Two subs just entered. Underacheiver Jason Garey replaced Kamara, and on the United side, Nicholas Addlery came in for Gomez. In unrelated news, DAMN, they’re gonna keep playing? Seriously?
9:04 Miglioranzi disappoints most of the 13,572 in the crowd by putting a sure goal over the crossbar. You gotta bury that one, dude.
9:05 Word is the game is about to be suspended. That’s a shame—this one was electric long before the lightning showed up. But… yeah. Dudes. I think you need to stop before Ezra becomes a lightning rod.
9:08 McTavish is coming out for DC. Kasali Yinka Casal (badass name) is coming in.
9:10 That last lightning strike looked pretty fierce. A lot of folks are leaving, but a surprising amount of fans are sticking around. Most of them, actually. MLSnet.com beat reporter John Kuhn: “We’ve had more quality strikes in the sky than we have in this game, so far.”
9:12 United, which isn’t out of this one yet, wins its first corner of the game. Olsen’s cross clears the box and launches a Crew attack, but Ngwenya can’t maintain possession.
9:13 Here comes the rain! It’s so heavy, we’re wondering if it’s hale. Mass exodus in the crowd. And still the game goes on.
9:14 I can’t believe dudes in Local 103 are still holding up flags. Also, there was just a Crew scoring chance (Miglioranzi, we think), but the window from the press box is getting hard to see out of.
9:15 Too bad for all those fans who left—they’ll never know if they won free gas station cookies from the Wild Bean Shootout. Among those who remain, some folks in the North End just started lighting some sort of smoke bombs or something. Another press box gem: “That rain looks really wet.”
9:17 Garey gets a great chance in the box on a long service, but his dangerous-looking shot goes wide. Had I been able to tell it was Garey, that would have been expected.
9:18 They finally suspended the match, with a little more than six minutes left. Everybody’s leaving. It’s crazy how much difference a half can make.
9:33 A fairly sizable chunk of fans are still hanging around in the bowels of the stadium. One of the supporters’ clubs is entertaining them by parading through the passageways with much fanfare. Fun stuff.
9:35 PA announcer: After a 10-minute warmup period, play will resume.
9:37 Here comes the Crew. My sense of security about this game has completely dissolved at this point. Anything can happen in the rain.
9:42 Play resumes.
9:43 DC corner kick gets headed out of danger. I think it was Ezra’s noggin.
9:44 Ngwenya got sprung and had his sights set on goal, but they called him offside.
9:46 Garey picked up a yellow card for something or other. Who can tell anymore? DC gets a short free kick out of it, which leads to a fruitless cross and, eventually, a goal kick.
9:48 Promising Crew attack leads to a corner kick for the black and gold. As it fizzles, we learn there will be at least four minutes of stoppage time, which have just begun.
9:50 The Crew seemed ready to break into an attack, but instead Ngwenya seems to be pulling the old “dribble into the corner” trick.
9:51 Free kick for the Crew near the right corner, but they keep up the time-wasting tactics. They finally decide to cut towards the box, leading to another errant Gaven laserbeam.
9:52 That’s a final! 1-0 Crew. Wet and wonderful.
9:53 The Crew and Sigi retake the field to salute the remaining fans. Classy move.
9:55 Aaaaaand goodnight.