Lenhart's late goal keeps Crew alive

Lenhart keeps Crew alive with stoppage-time strike

Steven Lenhart scored on a crazy half volley in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the Columbus Crew a dramatic 2-1 victory over Rochester in a round of 16 match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday.

The play started with a 60-yard pass from Eric Brunner that hit Rochester defender Frankie Sanfilippo in the head and went to Lenhart’s thigh. After one bounce, Lenhart stuck out his right leg and lifted the shot from 17 yards into the right corner of the goal.

Columbus, who held control throughout most of the game, had several near misses. Just five minutes into the game, Dilly Duka stole the ball and fed Emmanuel Ekpo at the top of the final third. Ekpo placed the ball to his left for an incoming Robbie Rogers, whose strike from 30 yards hit the crossbar after a fingertip save by Scott Vallow to set up the corner.

Ekpo nearly broke the deadlock in the 23rd off an innocent looking chip from the right touchline. Vallow was set to play it as a cross but the ball sailed over his head and hit the left post.

The Crew first went ahead seven minutes later, when defender Andy Iro got a goal after heading in a corner from Eddie Gaven. The defender had a clean look at Gaven’s ball, but had to avoid fallen teammate Lenhart to place the ball into the left half of the goal.

The goal strengthened the Crew’s hold on the game even more, The Crew were in control throughout until the Rhinos struck out of nowhere by way of Darren Spicer to equalize.

Spicer, who had entered seven minutes earlier for Rochester, tied the match at one each in the 69th minute with a bullet to the upper right corner from 17 yards. Sanfilippo was near the right sideline when he sent the ball into the box. As teammate Aaron Pitchkolan battled for position, the ball glanced off Brunner and went directly to Spicer, who didn’t hesitate to fire away.

Boosted by the goal, Rochester almost took the lead in the 72nd minute, but Andy Gruenebaum made a diving save to his left on strike from Jonathan Greenfield.

The Rhinos went down a man in the 84th minute when Felix Motagalvan made a late challenge with the studs up and clipped Emilio Renteria. This was opposite from the last meeting between the two sides, when Rochester won in penalty kicks at home after the Crew played short-handed for nearly 60 minutes.

As promised, Crew coach Robert Warzycha used a mixture of regulars and reserves. Leading scorer Guillermo Barros Schelotto did not dress, nor did defenders Frankie Hejduk and Gino Padula.

Rookies Shaun Francis and Duka have not appeared in an MLS game, but both were in the starting lineup at left back and right back, respectively. Iro and Brunner were in the middle.

Duka was in the midfield with and regular starters Brian Carroll, Gaven and Rogers. Lenhart, who has started 10 of 12 league matches, was the lone striker.

Gruenebaum made his first appearance between the pipes for the Crew this season.

Rochester went with most of their top players, including leading scorers Anthony Hamilton and Ryan Heins. Vallow, a former Bowling Green (Ohio) goalkeeper, got the start.

The Crew will next play the winner between Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery. A Battery victory would give Columbus hosting rights, while a Fire win send the Crew to Peoria, Ill. Either match would take place on July 6.