Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10/26/2010: Have Hesmer, Gaven's Unique Goalkeeping Heroics Brought Renewed Life, Joy, & Vigor To Dead Crew Team?

Goalkeeping: Sometimes the most unheralded position may have reinvigorated a dead and tired Columbus Crew team. First on October 15th, goalkeeper William Hesmer (left) ran 90 yards to score in the 92nd minute to give the Crew a 2-2 tie away against TFC. Then the next week midfielder Eddie Gaven made two diving saves, after Hesmer was injured, to preserve a 3-1 victory at home against Philadelphia in front of over 19,000 fans.

The Crew looked like a sad version of their former, champion-caliber selves a few weeks ago. As the team struggled to even tie a game, they bombed out of the Supporters Shield race, and they lost the U.S. Open Cup final (there best chance to win an important trophy in 2010). It was obvious to all that the Columbus Crew locker room was not enjoying their soccer and seemed to be dwelling on the missed opportunities that have occurred this season. Then on October 15th, Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer scored a surprising goal in the 92nd minute to give the Crew a 2-2 tie away against "rivals" Toronto F.C.; the draw gave the Crew their first trophy of 2010, the debatedly meaningful Trillum Cup (awarded to the series winner of Crew vs. TFC). But, after bombing out of the Supporters Shield and Open Cup trophy races, the Crew were keen to get their hands on any hardware.

And the Crew seemed to find some joy for once, as they danced and chased Hesmer around Toronto's BMO Field (video below); Silencing and mocking a quiet TFC crowd who finally thought they would be celebrating their first win over a Crew side that hasn't been too massive as of late. Not to be, as the Crew enjoyed a once in a lifetime goal by William Hesmer and enjoyed the continued misery of TFC at their hands. They finally had a reason to smile for months.

Hesmer's famous antics brought Massive across the world once again: A video that has gotten over 760,000 hits in a week across the world on youtube from two uploads.

The Crew were enjoying their soccer again.. And a reinvigorated Crew then traveled to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday and punched their ticket to the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals by destroying Joe Public 4-1 (video below). Renteria, a player that I believe is our best striker in years and should of gotten minutes in 2010 like the less effective Alejandro Moreno did in 2009, showed himself again slotting two past a meager Joe Public. The Crew had their first victory in the bag in weeks and guarenteed themselves another shot at the knockout rounds of the Champions League, where they battled Toluca to a 5-4 defeat over two legs last season.

And on top of the 4-1 Joe Public win. Crew journeyman and fan favorite Duncan Oughton (who does not get the most minutes these days) scored the fourth goal, which also lifted the team because everyone in the Crew locker room loves Dunc. So do the fans.. The Nordecke made him a motif for Sunday's game as well:

Speaking of Sunday's game. The Crew, in front of over 19,000 at home, dismantled the Philadelphia Union 3-1. A very important win for the Crew as it gives them some renewed belief over MLS opponents, even if the win was against lowly expansion side Philadelphia. Further, the Union's only goal came when Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven was forced into the goalkeeper position after Hesmer was injured (video below); as the Crew already used three substitions. Eddie Gaven let a LeToux saveable bullet go past him but then came up big saving two Union shots over his 15 minutes in net, icing the 3-1 victory. The second week of unusual Crew goalkeeper-related antics put a smile on a lot of Crew faces to end the season.. Further, Renteria and Mendoza both tallied for the second straight game putting together a couple of goalscoring streaks, at a striker position that has been an inconsistent carosel all season. Another reason to smile (along with Renteria's goal celebration below) and be a little more confident as a Crew fan.

Overall, I have never seen a more impressive attitude adjustment by a team over an eight day period. It may not save the Crew's season by leading to a MLS Cup; but, it has led from overwhelming pessismism to at least some renewed optimism in Columbus... And it all started with Hesmer's 92nd minute goal. Hesmer will miss the whole playoffs due to an injury from Sunday's season finale against Philadelphia; But, his 92nd minute heroics might lead to a MLS Cup run all the way back to BMO Field on November 21st.

Soccer god willing.


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