With Bill Hamid coming off MLS Player of the Week honors, the Crew knew it would be tough to beat the 22-year-old D.C. United goalkeeper in Saturday's match at RFK Stadium. As expected, Hamid made several acrobatic saves to keep United in the game as the Black & Gold peppered him with nine shots on goal throughout the afternoon.
Not to be outdone, Crew backstop Andy Gruenebaum fed off Hamid's play on the other end of the field to make several key stops to help the Crew to the 2-1 victory away from home.
"[Hamid] played out of his mind again," Gruenebaum said after the match. "He’s had a couple back-to-back games where he’s just feeling it and right now he’s on fire.
"Anytime you see someone on the other end make a great save it, you hope – I mean, you obviously don’t want to have to be in that position, but when it happens you hope to be there and it was an interesting game. It was probably one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played in.”
Added Head Coach Robert Warzycha: "[Hamid] did very well on Chad [Marshall]'s save, and following with Tyson Wahl. I think the second half, the goalies did a very good job. They did what they were supposed to do. They made some saves and there were some clear chances, but they stood on their heads and they were very, very good.”
Perhaps the top highlight of Saturday afternoon was Gruenebaum's back-to-back-to-back saves from Lionard Pajoy, Brandon McDonald and Dwayne De Rosario attempts that NBC Sports broadcaster Arlo White could only describe as "a miracle."
The humble Gruenebaum claims some luck was involved.
“It was a shot through traffic from the top, I didn’t see it until the end so I wasn’t able to hold it clean, but I just saw [De Rosario] there wide open so I just got up and just tried to make myself big.
"I kind of got lucky there.”
Sitting at his perch on the touchline between Robert Warzycha and Ben Olsen for Saturday's broadcast on NBC Sports Network, former Crew midfielder and TV analyst Kyle Martino knows a thing or two about the Crew vs. D.C. United rivalry. Drafted by the Black & Gold in 2002, and winning the League's Rookie of the Year award that season, Martino played five seasons in Columbus to get his fill of the original MLS rivalry.
"It's funny. Statistically, the Crew has done pretty well in this rivalry, but that's not how I remember it," Martino recalled. "I remember coming to RFK [Stadium] and always getting our butts handed to us. It's funny, I was talking to Ben Olsen yesterday and we were sort of reminiscing about the past. We always called RFK the parking lot because the field was always hard as a parking lot.
Martino continued: "We would always come out and the Ben Olsens, the Marco Etcheverrys, the Christian Gómezes and just running in circles. I remember looking over at Brian Maisonneuve a couple times, with our tongues hanging out, and just saying 'How do we get this ball and how do we get into this game?' This was always a tough place to come."
Martino's favorite rivalry memory concerning the Crew and D.C. United includes a chance swap of cleats with a future hero for the Black & Gold.
"My favorite memory of the rivalry is when I showed up one time and I'd forgotten to put my cleats in the cleat bag. I was in the locker room beforehand and I didn't have any cleats, and I'm like 'Oh my god, what am I going to do?'"
He continued: "I remembered from the U.S. National Team that [then-D.C. United midfielder] Brian Carroll and I had the same size shoe. I had someone go over the to the D.C. locker room and ask Brian Carroll if I could borrow a pair of his cleats. In that game, Brian and I went against each other. He was playing against me in the center of midfield and I was wearing his cleats, which I thought was hilarious."
While Martino recalls his time with the Crew fondly, he does not see things going the Black & Gold's way on Saturday.
"My prediction is a D.C. win," he boldly stated. "I think D.C. kind of got their bell rung in New York last week and they've turned this place into a fortress. I think the Crew performed really well in LA and Vancouver. There are some real bright spots in the team. The home tie [against San Jose] was a bit of a disappointment to them, so they're going to be pumped and ready to go today. But I think this is a return to the RFK that I remember, which is a place you don't come and steal points easily."
Martino and Arlo White will have the call on NBC Sports Network. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.
The Black & Gold will kick off its 2013 Reserve League campaign on Tuesday. The back-to-back reserve champions will host the Chicago Fire at the Crew Training Facility at Obetz on Tuesday, March 26 10:00 a.m. ET. The match is open to the public and admission is free.
**UPDATE** Match moved to the Crew Training Facility at Obetz located at 4153 Alum Creek Dr. Obetz, OH 43207
Click here for the 2013 Reserve League schedule.
Following the announcement from U.S. Soccer that Columbus Crew Stadium will host the USA vs. Mexico 2014 World Cup Qualifier on September 10, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman expressed his sentiments on the fixture’s positive impact on the city of Columbus.
"This is fantastic news for our soccer fans and for our entire community,” Mayor Coleman said. “This will not only be an exciting soccer match, but an outstanding opportunity to showcase the City of Columbus to the entire world.”
Taking a mental break from preparing for this weekend's rivalry match against D.C. United, four Crew players took the time to make their picks in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. The trash talking commenced as the players filled out their brackets after training.
Rookie defender Drew Beckie is projecting a Final Four of Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas and Miami, but basketball may not exactly be his forte.
"Beckie, this isn't hockey!" fellow rookie Daniel Withrow teased the proud Canadian and Denver University product as he filled out his bracket. "The Frozen Four is later."
Eric Gehrig returns to the Crew Bracket Challenge this season after finishing in fourth-place last year behind Josh Williams, Justin Meram and winner Ethan Finlay. A native of Northwest Indiana, Gehrig is picking his home-state Hoosiers to win the National Championship.
Pumped for Akron's fourth tournament appearance in school history, and third since 2009, Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp is picking his Zips to pull off an opening round upset against Dominic Oduro's VCU Rams. The Gahanna native is picking the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes to knock off Indiana in the National Championship Final.
Finally, forward Aaron Schoenfeld is picking the Miami Hurricanes to prevail in the Final Four against Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan-- all No. 2 seeds, except the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs of the West Region.
The Scoring System:
- 3 points for each team correctly picked to advance to the Round of 32.
- 5 points for each team picked in the Sweet 16.
- 10 points for each team in the Elite 8.
- 25 points for each team in the Final 4.
- 50 points for each team in the National Championship.
- 100 points for correctly picking the National Champion.
Stay tuned to TheCrew.com to see which player will have bragging rights around Crew Stadium.
When Crew forward Ryan Finley transferred to Notre Dame after his sophmore season at Duke, he probably expected to start a few games for the Irish after netting 28 goals for the Blue Devils in two seasons.
Notre Dame Head Coach Bobby Clark saw things differently.
Using college soccer's unique substition rules to an advantage, Clark inserted Finley into his tactics 20 minutes into each game. Finley went on to score 28 goals, 21 of which came in 2012, despite not starting a single match in two seasons in South Bend.
"[Coming off the bench] was something I got used to," Finley explained. "The starters only played 20 minutes and I'd come on for 70 minutes, so it wasn't like I was playing only 30 minutes or anything. I was seeing an extended amount of time each game."
With Jairo Arrieta away with the Costa Rican National Team, Finley has the chance to start his first match in two years when the Black & Gold plays D.C. United on Saturday. The rookie is ready for whichever direction Head Coach Robert Warzycha decides to take on Saturday.
"I've played soccer for a long time," he said. "Whether I'm starting or coming off the bench, I think I can adapt my game and hopefully help the team out."
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy season resumed over the weekend as both Crew Soccer Academy squads traveled to Indianapolis for Sunday matches against the Indiana Fire. Goals from Jacob Atkinson and Charlie Reymann led the Crew U-18 squad to 2-0 victory over the top-of-the-table Fire. In the U-16 match, CSA battled back from a two-goal deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw with both tallies coming in the final 10 minutes from Omar Mohamed and Brett Smalley.
The U-16 squad currently sits in sixth-place in the USSDA Central Conference behind the CSA Wolves (MI) in first-place. In the U-18 division, CSA is currently in eighth-place in the Central entering spring play.
Jurgen Klinsmann revealed his 23-man roster on Monday for two crucial upcoming matches in Denver and Mexico City.
The US host Costa Rica on Friday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (10 pm ET, ESPN), before taking on Mexico in Mexico City on March 26 (10:30 pm ET, ESPN).
US ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire - 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake - 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake - 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City - 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England - 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy - 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark - 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes - 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico - 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake - 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy - 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico - 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor/Turkey - 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany - 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium - 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City/England - 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City - 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands - 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria - 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England - 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico - 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC - 12/10)
To cap off Black & Gold Week, Columbus City Hall showed its support for its hometown soccer team by placing a massive Crew jersey on the corner of Front and Broad Streets.
"The Crew is one of many reasons why Columbus is a dynamic and exciting city to live in and visit," said City Council President Andrew J. Ginther. "I encourage all resident to come out and support the Crew this weekend and all season long."
Brand Ambassador Frankie Hejduk gave away tickets to Opening Match all afternoon as part of his "Find Frankie" scavenger hunt.
The best way to make sure Crew fans are geared-up for Saturday’s Opening Match is to take advantage of the Crew Gear Store Massive Sale, which will be held on Friday, March 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET at Crew Stadium. Frankie Hejduk will be signing autographs inside the Crew Gear Store from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The sale includes up to 40% off on select jerseys, hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, ladies and kids merchandise throughout the store. All of the newest Crew gear selections that just arrived will be available.
Those that buy a 2013 Crew jersey can receive personalization for $15 (regularly $25), and all personalization orders placed before 4:00 p.m. ET will be ready that day. Orders placed after 4:00 p.m. ET on the day of the Massive Sale can be picked-up at the Crew’s opening match on Saturday, March 16 or during the store’s regular business hours, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET.
CREW GEAR STORE MASSIVE SALE FRIDAY
WHAT: A Black & Gold Week special sale that includes up to 40% off on select jerseys, hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, ladies and kids merchandise throughout the store. All of the newest gear selections that just arrived will be available.
WHEN: Friday, March 15 from 11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET, Frankie Hejduk to sign autographs from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET
WHERE: Crew Stadium – One Black & Gold Blvd., Columbus, OH 43211
** Fans may be redirected by guest attendants to alternate entrances adjacent to the south Crew Stadium parking lot due to Opening Match preparations in the south plaza **