Well-prepared Crew too much for Joe Public

Ekpo, Griffit shine as Columbus keep pace in Group B

COLUMBUS – A good scouting report and more than solid play, helped the Crew turn a scoreless deadlock against upstart Joe Public of Trinidad into a 3-0 victory in a Group B CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday.

With Emmanuel Ekpo showing he’s recovered from a recent groin injury and Leandre Griffit well rested after not making the travel squad to Los Angeles over the weekend, the Crew owned the flanks against a Joe Public squad that dressed only 15 players.

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“We scouted Joe Public and that’s where we found space,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “We asked them to go after the defenders. We stopped the ball too many times in the first half. In the second half we changed.”

Warzycha told Ekpo to serve the ball quicker from the right side and Griffit on the left to cut inside and use his right foot more.

Griffit heeded the advice and scored a nifty goal in the 47th minute to make it 1-0. Jason Garey followed with a snap header off an Ekpo cross in the 51st before Steven Lenhart came off the bench to add another in the 80th.

“A great finish by Leandre,” Garey said. “We actually talked at halftime about him cutting inside and going in with his right foot and having some shots. He had one in the first half.

“He kept going outside, outside, outside and trying to cross it,” he added. “Bobby told him at halftime to cut inside and try some.”

Griffit took a ball from Andres Mendoza and started toward the left corner before making his move. Het cut back and was just inside the box when he slotted the ball with his right foot. It took one bounce past goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and slipped inside the right post.

“Sometimes you try to do it and someone’s there so you can’t do it all the time,” Griffit said. “I tried to do it and again and I scored. It worked and it was good to score.”

Until then, the Crew had controlled the match but let the visitors hang around.

“The first half went to plan,” Joe Public coach Derek King said. “The second half it all went wrong. We made three simple errors and allowed three soft goals.”

Warzycha thought it was only a matter of time.

“Before the game we were expecting to win and we got the three points,” Warzycha said. “The game went the way we expected. They sat back a little bit in the first half and then they let us play a little.

“Fortunately for them we did not score a goal (in the first half),” he added. “We had a good start to the second half then it opened up a little bit.”

Garey took advantage of the hard work Ekpo did coming out of the corner to serve him a perfect ball. Garey was six yards from goal when he got his head on it to ice the win.

“The first half was rough,” he said. “We were playing all right but the finishing wasn’t there.”

The Crew host group leader Santos Laguna Sept. 21 while Joe Public is home to Municipal on Sept. 23.