2010 in Review: Best & worst of Columbus

WillHesmer

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Crew’s season was one of close, but no victory cigars.

They almost advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship but lost on penalties, 5-4 to Colorado. They almost finished ahead of New York in the conference standings but fell a point short.

They almost won the US Open Cup, but lost the final to Seattle. They almost won Group B of the CONCACAF Champions League, but were a point back of Santos Laguna even though they qualified for the quarterfinals a second straight year.

So close yet so far. Still, 2010 was a memorable year for Columbus. Here’s the best and worst of it all.

[inline_node:320635]Best moment of the year

The rival Red Bulls had just signed Thierry Henry to mark their challenge to the Crew’s supremacy in the East. Even though he didn’t play in their July 17 match, the French star was in Crew Stadium to witness a thorough 2-0 Columbus victory.

He even stood and applauded when Crew star Guillermo Barros Schelotto exited late in the match after another masterful performance. The Crew were as good as anyone in the league at that point, but the ponderous schedule caught up to them beginning in August and victories were hard to come by after that.

Worst moment

It always hurts most when someone who used to be one of your own gets the best of you. Former Crew coach Sigi Schmid made it two for two in Crew Stadium with his new club, as the Seattle Sounders rode a Blaise Nkufo hat trick to a 4-0 rout on Sept. 18. Two weeks later, Schmid rubbed it in again back in Seattle in the Open Cup final.

Best goal

The Crew were winless in five straight and looked headed toward a loss in Toronto on Oct. 16 to add to the pain. But in the dying minutes, goalkeeper William Hesmer came upfield for one final set piece in stoppage time. Eddie Gaven took the corner and found the head of Chad Marshall, who pushed it back to the waiting Columbus ‘keeper. Hesmer’s patience in lining up the shot was classic. As was the mob scene after his dramatic equalizer.

WATCH: Hesmer equalizes in the dying seconds

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Best save

Hesmer, yet again, for brilliantly somehow getting his left hand on a point-blank shot by Philadelphia’s Justin Mapp in the 59th minute on Oct. 24, despite moving to his right. Minutes later, Hesmer fractured his right shoulder and was lost for the season. With Robert Warycha out of subs, midfielder Gaven moved back between the sticks and made perhaps the runner-up best save of the year on Sebastien Le Toux to preserve the victory.

WATCH: Hesmer makes acrobatic save on Mapp

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Team MVP: Eddie Gaven

He played forward, all three midfield spots and ‘keeper and failed at none. Gaven expects to have an even bigger role next season with the departure of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and could end up as a part-time striker if he’s not manning the center midfield or running up and down the wings.

Best newcomer: Shaun Francis

The Jamaican missed the first three weeks of the season with an ankle injury, but by the end of the year, he had replaced veteran Gino Padula at left back. Francis brings badly needed speed to the back line and his play for the Crew earned him his first looks with the Jamaican national team, a move that can only help him next season.

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