Crew Notebook: Learning to take control

Warzycha's men make most of rare halftime lead; Mendoza praised

Playing with an extra man, as was the case last Saturday at Houston, is not uncommon for the Crew.

Having the lead, especially at halftime? Now that’s a big deal.

Columbus handled both situations (despite a few blips along the way)
for a 2-0 victory that has them two points back from the top spot in the
Eastern Conference after 15 games (5-4-6, 21 points).

When the Dynamo’s Lovel Palmer was sent off in the 52nd minute for his
tackle on Bernardo Anor, it marked the sixth time this season that the
Crew have gained a player advantage. The Crew have yet to see red.

Anor later got an insurance score en route to being named the MLS
Player of the Week. It was the Crew’s fourth goal (including one via
penalty kick) in 193 minutes of being up a man.

“Thankfully, we’ve been in this situation before,” forward Tommy
Heinemann said. “I think we’ve learned from it. We were moving the ball
side to side. There were times they were tired of chasing. It made it
easier for us to progress and move the ball around.”

 

Even so, Houston came close to tying the score at 1-1 in the 60th minute, but William Hesmer made back-to-back saves.

The Crew can't be faulted for not knowing what to do when ahead because
Andrés Mendoza’s goal off an Anor pass in the 41st minute gave them a
halftime lead for the first time this year.

In all, Columbus have been in front for only 160 out of a possible
1,350 minutes (12 percent) and led for a combined eight minutes in the
seven games before Houston.

“We are a team that never got desperate, both when we had the advantage
and when we had an additional player on the field,” defender Sebastián
Miranda said. “We were able to hold the same style of play, and we can
credit the result we got [Saturday] to those attributes.”

Bull rush

Anor laughed when told he is now the leading scorer on the Crew roster
this season from the University of South Florida after the rookie got
his first MLS goal vs. the Dynamo.

Jeff Cunningham, who at 34 is 11 years older than Anor, is still
seeking the elusive score that will tie the former USF star with Jaime
Moreno for the all-time MLS lead at 133.

“I know he’s getting to get there,” Anor said. “I know he’s going to get a lot of goals.”

Forward thinking

Mendoza, the often criticized Designated Player, may have won a few
converts with his nice finish against Houston for his team-best fifth
goal.

“We need to believe in him and see a little bit of trust from the
players around him,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “He’s going in the
right direction.”

No bias

Of six the six red cards issued to opponents, they have been split
evenly between home and road. The Crew are 3-1-2 in those games.

Curse is broken?

The Crew’s win last Saturday was the first in nine tries (1-3-5) while
wearing black in MLS play since the start of the 2009 season. All games
have been on the road.