As most of you know, the Columbus Crew’s 1-0 loss four days ago to the Colorado Rapids in the wild-card round of the MLS Cup Playoffs ended their season. A small crowd of 7,803 was on hand to see Rapids’ forward Omar Cummings’ lone goal right before halftime. The win advanced Colorado to the Eastern Conference semifinals against Sporting Kansas City, whereas the Crew were sent home with only the long wait for next season.
Cummings’ goal came as the result of a beautiful through ball by Brian Mullan to Kosuke Kimura. Kimura ran past the back line of defense before cutting the ball back to Cummings, who was standing unmarked inside the box. Cummings’ first-time shot was hit too hard for Crew goalie William Hesmer, and the ball struck the back of the net with authority.
The Crew’s best chance to equalize came in the 54th minute, but Andres Mendoza’s left-footed strike from outside the box was only able to ding off the crossbar.
Midfielder Danny O’Rourke was a late scratch minutes before the game. Rookie Rich Balchan replaced him. Balchan was paired in the center of midfield with Tony Tchani, who was yet to play a single minute for Columbus all season. Emilio Renteria, the team’s second leading scorer, did not start the game at forward alongside Mendoza as most fans had predicted. Instead, the Venezuelan came off the bench in the 65th minute.
Head coach Robert Warzycha’s decisions to start Tchani and sit Renteria will not sit well for most fans during this long off season. Many fans will continue to question Warzycha’s decision making ability in big games.
Speaking of questions, the Crew will be faced with many this winter. Will someone make the decision that Warzycha isn’t the coach of the future? Will the team offload heavy salaries such as Mendoza, Jeff Cunningham, and Dejan Rusmir in pursuit of a big name player that will increase attendance and hopefully bring more cups to Columbus? Only time will tell.
Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda (Jeff Cunningham 70) (Tommy Heinemann 85), Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner, Eddie Gaven, Rich Balchan, Robbie Rogers, Tony Tchani, Dilly Duka (Emilio Renteria 65), Andres Mendoza.
Colorado Rapids – Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Miguel Comminges, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith (Ross LaBauex 74), Sanna Nyassi (Macoumba Kandji 89), Omar Cummings (Wells Thompson 68), Caleb Folan.