With pressure on, Mendoza comes through for Crew
COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the penalty call that led to the Columbus Crew’s winning goal against Philadelphia was upsetting to the Union, their ire might have been nothing like the controversy if Andrés Mendoza had not powered the PK past Union goalie Faryd Mondragón.
After Robbie Rogers drew a handball call on defender Sheanon Williams in the 50th minute — “a Christmas present,” said Union coach Peter Nowak — Rogers indicated he wanted to take the shot from the spot.
Mendoza wanted the chance as well, just as he denied Jeff Cunningham an opportunity to tie the MLS career-goal record on June 8 vs. Real Salt Lake and was roundly booed by the home fans.
“I said I wanted to take it,” Rogers said. “He said he wanted to take it. I told him he better not miss.”
Mendoza, who has a team-best eight goals and is perfect on penalties this season, thought it was natural that he shoot.
“Normally I take the PKs now,” he said. “Robbie asked and I said, ‘No, I would do it.’”
Mendoza struck the ball hard, but Mondragón dove to his left and made the initial save. Unluckily for Mondragón and luckily for Mendoza, the ball got away from the 'keeper and spun across the goal line in the 51st minute.
“We’ve played against each other in different leagues around the world,” Mendoza said. “He knows how to play against me.”
The Crew also got a goal from Emilio Rentería — his sixth in just 11 appearances — in the 37th minute off assists from Rogers and Mendoza.
It is the first time Rentería and Mendoza have scored goals in the same game. In fact, it is the first time the pair of South American strikers has have started together all season, due to various injuries.
“We understand each other,” the Peruvian Mendoza said of the Venezuelan Rentería.
They had previously been paired for only 57 minutes. They lasted 70 minutes before Rentería left with a leg cramp.
“It’s great to have both of them on the field,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said, "but more than anything, the players behind them supported them and they were working for the guys who are defending."