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Eastern Conference Championship

Crew sting Kings in exhibition match

The Columbus Crew blanked the Cincinnati Kings of the USL Second Division (third tier) 3-0 on a frigid Tuesday night at the Crew's training facility. Edson Buddle and newcomer Ante Razov scored in the first half while rookie Marcus Storey had the lone tally of the second half.

The match, the only home preseason exhibition for Columbus, was in honor of Keith Evans, a former police officer killed in the line of duty. Donations were made towards the Keith Evans Memorial Fund.

With Chad Marshall, Jon Busch, Frankie Hejduk and Kyle Martino still with the U.S. national team and several others out nursing injuries, Crew coach Greg Andrulis went with a largely inexperienced side for the evening. But Razov, Buddle and Manny Lagos were the exceptions, and they in concert with second-year starlet Danny Szetela allowed Columbus to dominate possession and scoring chances throughout the first half.

Buddle scored early in the match as a through ball from Razov was deflected by a Cincinnati defender directly into Buddle's run allowing him to go in alone on goal.

The Crew strike partnership of Razov and Buddle paired well during the first half, and the Crew faithful was warmed with the hope that the partnership leads to some consistency up top this season. Szetela also made several nice runs on goal from his central midfield position, but settled for one hit post on the night.

The home side's level of play tailed off in the second half. Both Buddle and Razov were substituted at the break, though Szetela and Lagos continued with nice form in the middle of the park.

Additionally, a pair of the rookies made their mark. University of Maryland standout Domenic Mediate made several nice runs as he successfully challenged numerous defenders throughout the night. Fellow ACC standout Storey (a Wake Forest product) put the Kings' defense on edge with his speed. His quick pace allowed him to claim his goal as he outran a couple of defenders to latch onto a through ball before chipping the 'keeper from just outside the box.

Even as the Crew plugged in more rookies in the second half, the Kings rarely made a foray into the Crew half, much less test Crew goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. The Cincinnati club is in its inaugural season, and Monday was the team's first practice.

The match concluded a brief stop the Crew were making in Ohio, sandwiched between two trips to the southeastern U.S. Last Saturday, they tied the Virginia Beach Mariners 1-1 by way of a Ross Paule free kick, and then on Wednesday, they leave to participate in the Carolina Challenge Cup against the Charleston Battery, the San Jose Earthquakes, and D.C. United in the South Carolina city. After returning on March 26, the Crew will have one week to prepare in Columbus for the season opener against the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 2.

John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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