The Crew's Steve Clark, Giancarlo Gonzalez and Tony Tchani were named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week following Saturday's 4-1 win over the LA Galaxy. With three players on the list in Week 23, it's the Black & Gold's highest total of the season. Justin Meram was named honorable mention.
Winger Ethan Finlay was an offensive threat throughout the Crew's Independence Day clash with the Colorado Rapids, eventually netting the equalizer in the 76th minute to help the Black & Gold to a point on the road. For his efforts, Finlay was named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week for Week 17. The honor is the first of Finlay's career.
For his efforts in helping the Black & Gold to back-to-back draws against Real Salt Lake and D.C. United, defender Michael Parkhurst was named to MLSsoccer.com's Team of the Week for Week 14. This marks the second time in 2014 the Crew Captain has earned the accolade after he helped his club blank D.C. United, 3-0, in Week One. Goalkeeper Steve Clark and midfielder Ethan Finlay were named Honorable Mention following the multi-fixture week.
In its first tune-up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Costa Rica fell to Japan, 3-1, Monday night in Tampa, Fla. as Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa found the winner for Japan in the 80th minute. The Crew's Giancarlo Gonzalez played all 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in the defeat, while leftback Waylon Francis did not see action for Costa Rica.
Los Ticos continue their preparation for Brazil on Friday in a friendly against Ireland at PPL Park in Chester, Penn. TheCrew.com will be on the ground with full coverage of the match.
PHOTO: Action Images
Following Saturday's 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire, Crew defender Eric Gehrig and forward Federico Higuaín were named to Sports Illustrated's Week 12 Best XI. In his first appearance of the season, the fourth-year defender Gehrig stepped into central defense to help the Black & Gold to their second shutout of 2014 in the victory. Coming off MLS Player of the Week honors, Higuaín continued a stand-out May with assists to Ethan Finlay and Jairo Arrieta to lift the Crew at home.
In a surprise move, Jairo Arrieta stepped up to the spot against the Red Bulls to convert the penalty drawn moments before by Justin Meram on Saturday night. It marked just the second time since Federico Higuaín joined the Crew in August 2012 that someone other than the Argentine has taken a spot kick in game action. A similar move occured earlier this year in the Crew's 4-1 preseason win over Sporting Kansas City in which Arrieta and Higuaín elected to have Arrieta take -- and convert -- the penalty.
After the match, Sporting Director and Head Coach revealed that he lets his players decide who should take penalties in game action.
"[Arrieta and Higuaín] decided [who would take it] between themselves," Berhalter said. "Jairo wanted to get off the mark, he was anxious to score, and it was good that he took it and made it."
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Only in his third season with the Black & Gold, Higuaín is just four penalties short of Guillermo Baros Schelotto's club record for spot kicks taken and two tallies shy of Brian McBride's Crew record for penalty kick goals.
Dayton Dutch Lions FC fell 5-1 at home to the Richmond Kickers over the weekend. Crew loanee Kevan George went the full 90 minutes at centerback for the home side, while Aaron Schoenfeld and Ryan Finley each saw action in the Dutch Lions' attack.
Dayton returns to action on Sunday when it hosts the Charleston Battery.
Thanks to Wil Trapp and Hector Jimenez's late-game heroics to rescue a point at home for the 10-man Crew against D.C. United over the weekend, the Black & Gold stood firm in this week's Power Rankings. The Crew slipped slightly on MLSsoccer.com and Sports Illustrated's Planet Fútbol lists, while moving up one spot in ESPNFC's rankings. See the full rankings below.
MLSsoccer.com: 6 (5)
ESPNFC: 5 (6)
Forward Aaron Schoenfeld drew -- and converted -- a first-half penalty kick to help Dayton Dutch Lions FC to a 1-0 victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders at Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg on Saturday. Fellow loanee Kevan George played the entire 90 minutes, while Ryan Finley came on as a second-half substitute.
The Dutch Lions are 2-1-1 on the season and third on the USL-PRO table after four matches.
After serving as a rotational player in his first two seasons with the Crew, Tony Tchani is now playing a major role in the Black & Gold's early success in 2014 as a force in the Columbus midfield.
WIth the fresh perspective of first-year Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, Tchani knew he'd have his chance to be a regular starter in 2014. However, it was no easy task as the Cameroonian-born midfielder fought through a preseason injury to earn a spot in Berhalter's starting XI.
"Tony had a little bit of an injury in the beginning of the season and he just kept fighting, kept working through it," Berhalter said of the midfielder. "He's been doing great. "
Added Tchani: "I always try to work hard every day to prove to the new coach that I deserve to be [in the starting lineup]. It wasn't easy. In the offseason I had an injury, but now it's fine. I got lucky that I got to play a few preseason games to show the coaching staff that I deserve to be out there."
Paired with Wil Trapp centrally, Tchani has helped the Crew midfield become one of MLS's best in keeping possession. The key, Tchani says, is the understanding he has with his running mate.
"We're playing so well because Wil is a guy that likes to sit and I'm like a box-to-box guy," he said. "I like being next to Wil when we're playing defense. When we're on offense, I'm a little bit higher. It's worked pretty well so far. "
Tchani's play on the field has resulted in-part thanks to the confidence Berhalter has instilled in him. Hailed as a "players' coach" when he was hired in November, Berhalter has found a way to get the most of each player in his squad.
"He's a coach that is always coming in and talking to the guys," Tchani said of his coach. "Not only the starters, but also the guys that may not play or the guys on the bench. He always talks to the guys and makes them comfortable. He makes the guys feel like they all have a chance. If someone else is not playing, it's their turn to step up and do the same job."
Even Tchani's teammates have taken notice of his increased role and the leadership that has come of it.
"He's matured as a player," Josh Williams complimented Tchani. "That's something I think Gregg had something to do with, he had a big part of it: just staying focused for 90 minutes, just always being there picking up his teammates. In the center of the park, you have to be a leader of some sort. He's not much of a vocal kind of guy. He just let's his play do the talking.
"He's been more of a leader, a field general."