Recap: Crew 3 - Battery 0
Steven Lenhart drew a penalty that led to a goal, then added one of his own Tuesday as the Columbus Crew routed the Charleston Battery 3-0 to advance to the US Open Cup semifinals for the first time in eight years.
The Crew used only one starter – defender Chad Marshall – from Saturday’s win against Chicago. But other than rookies Shaun Francis and Dilly Duka, it was a veteran corps with a ton of MLS experience at Crew Stadium.
An uneventful first half took a turn for the better in the 37th minute, when Charleston's South African midfielder Stephen Armstrong – a former Crew man – fouled Lenhart in the middle of the box. Lenhart was going for a cross out of the right flank by Duncan Oughton when he and Armstrong collided.
The Battery forcefully protested and forward Ian Fuller was issued a yellow card prior to Emilio Renteria stepping to the dot. The Venezuelan left no doubt, with a powerful strike off his right foot that went straight to the back of the net with such force that the bottom posts were lifted off the ground.
Other than the goal, it was a frustrating first half for the Crew, who saw two earlier chances coming tantalizing close. But in the 70th minute, Lenhart iced the game.
Crew striker Emmanuel Ekpo led Oughton toward the right corner and fed the New Zealander a perfect ball into the goal area where Lenhart – who had the winner in stoppage time against the Rochester Rhinos last week – slid onto the pass and knocked the ball into the net.
Then for good measure in the 87th minute, Eddie Gaven drilled the ball on goal after a nice setup by Ekpo.
Crew backup 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum had an easy night as the Battery had only seven shots, but none were on goal.
Columbus last reached the final four of the US Open Cup in 2002 when they won their only title. They also lost the 1998 final to Chicago and reached the semifinals the next year before losing to Rochester.
Charleston have a 5-4 record in their past nine games vs. MLS teams, and have eight wins against league opponents in franchise history, but couldn't crack the Crew in their first meeting.
The Crew will host Harrisburg on Aug. 31 or play at D.C. United on
Sept. 1. Those teams play their quarterfinal matchup on July 21.
CLB – Emilio Renteria (penalty kick) 38’
CLB – Steven Lenhart (Duncan Oughton) 70’
CLB – Eddie Gaven (Emmanuel Ekpo) 87’
CLB – Jed Zayner (caution: reckless tackle) 24’
CHA – Ian Fuller (caution: dissent) 37’
CLB – Steven Lenhart (caution: unsporting behavior) 42’
CHA – O’Brian Woodbine (caution: reckless tackle) 64’
Charleston – Tim Melia; O’Brian Woodbine, Colin Falvey, John Wilson, Nigel Marples; Brandon Massie (John Gruenewald, 70’), Alioune Gueye, Ian Fuller (Kevin Jackson, 82’), Stephen Armstrong (Amaury Nunes 72’); Lamar Neagle, Tom Heinemann.
Columbus – Andy Gruenebaum; Jed Zayner, Chad Marshall, Eric Brunner, Shaun Francis; Duncan Oughton, Danny O’Rourke, Dilly Duka (Eddie Gaven 61’), Emilio Renteria (Leandre Griffit 76’), Emmanuel Ekpo; Steven Lenhart (Jason Garey 88’).
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: John Safar, Pierre Saintil Francillon
4th Official: Rizal Millikan
Weather: 90 and sunny