Hesmer: Lineup changes in flux for Crew

Travel plans leave CCL roster choices up in the air

WillHesmer

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NEW YORK – Goal-scoring goalkeeper Will Hesmer said on Monday that the Columbus Crew will not be able to wait for Tuesday’s result between Mexico’s Santos Laguna and Guatemala’s Municipal to determine which players travel to Trinidad for this week’s CONCACAF Champions League group match.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury because of the flight situation,” Hesmer told MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio. “We all have to fly out very early [Tuesday] morning and we don’t get in until very late [Tuesday] night to Trinidad.

“I think we’re taking 22 players. Once we land, we’ll find out the result and that will probably dictate the lineup.”

The Crew currently occupy the second spot in Group B on nine points. A victory by first-place Santos Laguna over third-place Municipal on Tuesday would automatically secure a quarterfinal berth for Columbus and turn Thursday’s match against last-place Joe Public into a virtual scrimmage.

After a trip to Toronto this past weekend followed by a flight to Trinidad, the travel has still not eased up for the Crew, which Hesmer indicates as a major factor in the team’s recent string of poor results.

“A very congested schedule,” he said. “No time really to get on the practice field and work on our flaws. We had a little bit of time last week. With another week of travel now, there’s not much time to get it right.”

The Crew starting goalkeeper did his part last Saturday with an unlikely stoppage-time equalizer against Toronto FC at BMO Field.

Hesmer said that it was assistant coach Ricardo Iribarren who gave him the green light to join his teammates in the penalty area for a last-gasp attempt to tie the match. Surprisingly given an inordinate amount of time to settle the ball and aim for the winner, Hesmer scored a goal that made highlight reels around the world.

“I didn’t take [the shot] first-time,” Hesmer said. “I thought I was more likely to get pulled down and get a penalty.”

The goal gifted the Crew a happy moment for a change and the ‘keeper’s cell phone was flooded with messages from friends as far as New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands.