Crew: Hesmer the hero
Forget the suggested lineup adjustments from last week's column. The secret to the Crew's future success could be moving goalkeeper William Hesmer to striker.
Hesmer became the second goalie in MLS history to score a goal when his stoppage-time strike secured a 2-2 draw at Toronto on Saturday.
With the Crew trailing 2-1, Hesmer threw caution to the wind by crashing into the box as Eddie Gaven took a corner kick. Gaven's service careened off Chad Marshall's head to Hesmer's thigh. Hesmer trapped the ball and took advantage of some lax defending by composing himself and threading a shot through the goalmouth chaos and into the net.
Hesmer's gleeful expression told the tale: This goal from an unexpected source put a positive spin on what had been looking like another disappointing performance. The Crew is still winless in its last six MLS matches, but as coach Robert Warzycha told the press after the match, Hesmer's strike could be the spark that the Crew needs to right the ship just in time for the playoffs.
First, though, they have two more matches this week:
Champions League: Columbus Crew at Joe Public (Trinidad)
8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
The Crew can advance to next spring's knockout round of the CONCACAF Champions League by finishing in the top half of Group B. After five matches, Columbus has tallied nine points with a 3-0-2 record, good for second place in Group B.
Columbus dispatched Trinidad's Joe Public 3-0 last month at Crew Stadium, so theoretically they'll have no trouble beating them on the road Thursday. Whether they need to depends on the result of the Santos Laguna-Municipal match Tuesday night (after Alive's press time). But the Crew likely won't need more than a draw to advance, barring a major upset by Municipal on Tuesday.
Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24
1 Black and Gold Blvd., North Side
When the Crew takes the pitch in Trinidad on Thursday night, the suddenly star-studded New York Red Bulls will be hosting the New England Revolution in both teams' MLS regular season finale, setting the stage for Sunday's Crew season capper against expansion Philadelphia. New York capitalized on the Crew's recent slump to climb into first place in the East, but Columbus can still reclaim first place if New York loses or ties Thursday.