Recap: Crew vs. Municipal
An early goal from Emmanuel Ekpo and solid goalkeeping by backup Andy Gruenebaum helped the Crew defeat Municipal of Guatemala 1-0 Wednesday in the opening match of group play of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Ekpo scored in the game-winner in the 14th minute, his first goal in any competition since May 9, 2009 against Kansas City. He took a pass from Frankie Hejduk 30 yards out and split two defenders, then flicked the ball with his right foot past defender Pablo Melgar and regained control for a strike that nicked the left post and settled into the goal.
The win put Columbus in a tie for first place in Group B with Santos Laguna, but the Mexican side lead the group on goal differential. Santos topped Joe Public 5-2 in Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday night.
Ekpo’s goal stood up thanks in large part to the efforts of Gruenebaum, who earned the nod in place of traditional starter Will Hesmer. He was tested from the onset, but turned away Guillermo Ramirez in the 10th minute and went on to stuff the Municpal star again with a diving stop to his right in the 48th minute.
The Crew nearly added a second off a Frankie Hejduk header in the 32nd minute and on an open look from Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the 62nd.
Two players familiar to MLS fans started for Municipal. Forward Mario Rodriguez played 19 games for the Crew in 2005 and Ramirez played the same season for the Los Angeles Galaxy and scored the winning goal in that year’s MLS Cup.
The Crew went with a lineup that could be found in an MLS match with the exception of Gruenebaum, who has not played in a league game this season. Midfielder Eddie Gaven started in the midfield after missing two games because of a concussion and defender Any Iro (knee) returned following a one-game absence.
Forward Steven Lenhart served a one-game suspension following disciplinary action in the Crew's final match of the 2009-10 CCL tournament.
Columbus return to CCL action next Tuesday at Santos Laguna, while Municipal host Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago on Aug. 26.
CLB – Emmanuel Ekpo 1 (Frankie Hejduk) 14’
CLB – Danny O’Rourke (caution: reckless tackle) 35’
MUN – Guillermo Ramirez (caution: reckless tackle) 62’
CLB – Emilio Renteria (caution: dissent) 86’
MUNICIPAL –Jaime Penedo; Jaime Vides, Pablo Melgar (Juan Castillo, 46’), Yony Flores, Pablo Soloranzo (Marvin Avila, 46’); Gustavo Cabrera, Cristian Noriega, Sergio Guevara, Gonzalo Romero, Guillermo Ramirez (Carlos Castillo, 75’), Mario Rodriguez.
COLUMBUS –Andy Gruenebaum; Frankie Hejduk, Any Iro, Chad Marshall, Shaun Francis; Eddie Gaven, Adam Moffat (Emilio Renteria, 70’), Danny O’Rourke, Emmanuel Ekpo; Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Jason Garey.
Referee: Roberto Garcia
Referee's Assistants: Alejandro Ayala, Marcos Quintero
4th Official: Mark Geiger
Weather: 81, sunny