Luckless run continues for Crew

Early penalty, late own goal run Columbus winless streak to 6

Julius James

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The bad vibes of a five-game winless streak seemed to vanish in one disjointed play in the 55th minute.

Bad bounces? Questionable decision making?

The hallmarks of recent play surely were erased when a shot by Sporting Kansas City’s Chance Myers – the chance coming off another shaky clearance by defender Shaun Francis - was targeted for the Columbus net in the 55th minute. But before it could result in the inevitable goal, a recovering Francis and teammate Julius James slid to get between themselves and goalkeeper William Hesmer.

Myers’ attempt went off one or both defenders and the ball hit the right post to keep the match at 1-1.

“I think it touched me. I’m not really sure,” James said. “We were pretty fortunate there.”

Just nineteen minutes later the luck ran out on the careening Crew (11-12-8, 41 points) when a long throw-in by Matt Besler was headed into the Columbus goal by James for the 2-1 SKC victory. It marked the Crew’s the third straight defeat, and put paid to whatever good fortune seemed to be heading their way after the sliding clearance of Myers' shot.

Columbus are now 0-5-1 in the past six games and dropped to third in the Eastern Conference, three back of Sporting and one behind Houston.

“I was disappointed about the header,” James said. “As a defender you see the ball and go to it. I went to it.”

He was about 10 yards out when he looped the ball over Hesmer into the far netting.

“It just turned out badly,” James said. “All defenders at some point are going to score an own goal. At that position you are under fire all the time.”

Until that point, the Crew might have been happy with a tie because they generated little offense except for Emilio Renteria’s seventh of the season in the 34th minute. That countered a Kei Kamara penalty kick in the 15th.

The goal was the Crew’s first in three games.

“It was an important boost of confidence for us,” Renteria said. “It was something we needed.”

After James’ own goal, the Crew pressed and had a chance for an equalizer in the 85th minute but leading scorer Andres Mendoza was denied from 18 yards by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. It was eerily similar to a chance Mondoza couldn’t convert against LA last weekend late in what turned out to be a 1-0 loss.

“I think it was an even game, to get a point I would have been happy,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We gave up two bad goals - one on a penalty and one own goal.”

And with those bad goals, the bad vibes continue. The Crew get their next chance to break their slump on Sunday when they host D.C. United in another crucial Eastern Conference clash.