The Crew’s 3-0 scrimmage win over Seattle on Thursday in Arizona equaled the club’s offensive output during its first two games, but that wasn't the story – it was goalkeeper William Hesmer making his first appearance of the preseason and playing 30 minutes just a day after his first full-contact practice.
Hesmer fractured his right shoulder on Oct. 24 and had been limited to non-diving drills until Wednesday.
“I was a little apprehensive,” Hesmer said after the match. “There’s only way to go after it and we decided playing was the best option.”
His goal is to be ready for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs. Real Salt Lake on Feb. 22.
“It’s reasonable,” Hesmer said. “You can’t make it heal any faster than your body will allow. It’s about time. All the muscles around it pretty much shut down for a couple of months.”
Crew president Mark McCullers was pleased with what he saw, especially considering backup Andy Gruenebaum has yet to train this year because of hip and groin problems. He is expected to get medical clearance to start next week.
“[Hesmer] had to deal with a couple of corners,” McCullers said. “It looked like he got real comfortable real quick.”
Hesmer said he isn’t sure if he will play the remaining two games in Arizona on Monday and Feb. 18.
“It’s getting those muscles to start firing again and hopefully not aggravate it too much in the process,” he said. “We’ll be smart and push as far as my body will push it.”
[inline_node:327120]The Crew went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Andres Mendoza in the 20th off a pass from Emilio Renteria. Mendoza played his first game after recovering from the flu.
Jeff Cunningham forced an own-goal in the final of four 30-minute sessions and later added a score.
“Our first group was really sharp,” McCullers said. “The legs were a little bit lighter as opposed to Vancouver [a 2-1 loss] on Tuesday.”
Rich Balchan, the Crew’s first pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, impressed his boss at center back.
“He’s athletic,” McCullers said. “He chased down Steve Zakuani on a ball that was probably a 50-yard sprint. He was literally step for step.”
CLB – Andrés Mendoza (Emilio Rentería) – 1st session (20’)
CLB – own-goal – 3rd session (106’)
CLB – Jeff Cunningham – 3rd session (108’)
First 60 minutes: Ray Burse (William Hesmer, 45’), Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan, Shaun Francis, Robbie Rogers, Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, Emilio Rentería, Andrés Mendoza (Cole Grossman, 30’)
Second 60 minutes: William Hesmer (Alex Riggs, 74’), Ben Sippola, Alex Fraga, Andy Iro, Josh Williams (Cory Elenio, 109’), Leandre Griffit, Cole Grossman (Santiago Prim, 79’), Dejan Rusmir, Bernardo Anor (Andy Adlard, 98’), Justin Meram (Eric Gehrig, 110’), Jeff Cunningham.