Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crew tops Union with late stoppage time goal

Chester, Pa. – Columbus Crew pulled off the ultimate smash and grab raid at PPL Park on Wednesday evening as Eddie Gaven slotted home a last minute winner to defeat an increasingly dominant Philadelphia Union.

The 95th minute winner came during a frenetic period of play in which the Union were unfortunate not to find a decisive goal themselves, with John Hackworth’s side having 20 attempts on goal through the game – double that of the Crew.

Hackworth made a solitary change to the side which started the hard-earned draw against high-flying Real Salt Lake last weekend as Sheanon Williams made a return from suspension in place of Raymon Gaddis. And it looked to have paid off until almost the last kick as the Union continued to pepper the visitors’ goal with shots.

The game had started at a high tempo, with a good work rate through both midfields producing lively play without yielding clear chances on goal.

Danny Cruz was first to send a testing effort on goal in the 11th minute, turning well to send a sweetly-struck volley straight at Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who was making his first ever MLS start.

But it was an unlikely source that would weigh in with the opener as the game ticked towards the 30 minute mark.

Crew midfielder Chris Birchall brought down the marauding Michael Farfan on the edge of the box and Union captain and central defender Carlos Valdes stepped up to bury the ensuing free-kick into the back of the net with the aid of a deflection.

The visitors would strike back at a critical time, however. Man of the moment Federico Higuain swung in a free kick from the left and Josh Williams rose highest in the box to power his header into the corner passed a stunned Zac MacMath.

And it could have been worse for the home side a moment later when another dangerous ball – again from the left – found Eddie Gaven at the back post but the Crew’s top scorer could only find the River End with a well-struck volley.

There was an ominous sign for the Union just ten minutes into the second half when goal scorer Valdes had to be replaced; the Colombian, called-up for next week’s round of World Cup qualifiers by his national team, removed as a precaution holding his hamstring.

Things were to get worse for the other goal scorer just ten minutes later. An off the ball incident left substitute Antoine Hoppenot strewn on the field and after referee Yader Reyes had consulted with his assistant on the touchline, Josh Williams was shown a yellow card and then a red card to put Columbus down to ten.

The home side looked to capitalize and began exerting sustained pressure on the retreating Crew.

It looked like it would pay off with eight minutes left to play when Brian Carroll steered in a rebound following a goal mouth scramble, only for the flag to spoil the party with Sheanon Williams adjudged to be offside in the build-up.

The Crew would disturb unrelenting Union pressure by sending out a warning shot with the minutes ticking down; Higuain escaping forward to threaten MacMath’s goal.

But their next contribution would be lethal. Substitute Justin Meram stole a yard in the box on another rare attack and the ball fell for Gaven who gratefully slotted home to complete the heist.


Philadelphia Union:
Valdes, 29.

Columbus Crew:
J.Williams, 41.
Gaven, 90+5.


Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams (Raymon Gaddis, 55), Gabriel Farfan, Carlos Valdes (c), Amobi Okugo; Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan; Gabriel Gomez, Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot, 61), Jack McInerney (Freddy Adu, 77).

Subs not used: Chase Harrison, Keon Daniel, Josue Martinez, Chandler Hoffman.

Columbus Crew: Matt Lampson, Chad Marshall (c), Josh Williams, Sebastian Miranda, Eddie Gaven, Danny O’Rourke, Chris Birchall (Cole Grossman, 84), Dilly Duka (Justin Meram, 66), Milovan Mirosevic, Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta (Julius James, 72).

Subs not used: Scott Angevine, Emilio Renteria, Nemana Vukovic, Tony Tchani.

No comments: