COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the goalkeeper, William Hesmer realizes his name will be the first that comes to mind when discussion turns to the Crew’s record-setting shutout streak.
But he knows better, especially following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in a soggy and chilly Crew Stadium.
WATCH: Full match highlights
The Crew set a team mark with their fourth straight clean sheet and also equaled the club record 373 minutes without yielding a goal since the 77th minute of the season opener at D.C. United.
“It’s a team accomplishment,” Hesmer said. “Sometimes the goalkeeper’s name goes behind the shutout column, but really — from top to back — we’re doing an amazing job defending. We’re organized. We’re communicating, and for a goalkeeper this is a dream to sit in behind a group of guys like this.”
The back line was a question mark coming into the season after veteran stalwarts Frankie Hejduk and Gino Padula were let go. Sebastian Miranda and rookie Rich Balchan assumed their corner spots, and Julius James was a late preseason acquisition, replacing Andy Iro in the middle.
“We have a lot of confidence in each other,” coach Robert Warzycha said.
The Crew (2-1-2) are still struggling to score, however. They have four goals and midfielder Robbie Rogers has half of them to equal his output from 42 games over the previous two seasons.
“It’s great to see Robbie getting goals,” Hesmer said. “He’s the type of guy who once he goes one or two, he could explode for 10.”
Dilly Duka, who started the 3-1 loss to D.C. United but was used off the bench the next three games, returned to the first XI and set up the goal in the 53rd minute with a header at the top of the box back to Rogers on the left side.
“It was a good flick,” Rogers said. “I tried to hit (the) far post hard and low. I thought my first touch was pretty good. The defender can’t stay with you if you’re going full speed and you take a touch. It’s impossible.”
For Duka, it was his first assist in his eighth career game.
“He did well in practice,” Warzycha said. “He deserved to be on the field today. It was a good performance, especially in the second half. We had 30, 35 minutes where he was very active.”
The assist was a relief for Duka, a touted member of Generation adidas.
“I came in after the game and said, ‘Yeah, I got a point,’ but the biggest thing is we got the win," Duka said. "Hopefully, I’ll have more assists and more wins.”
The Crew will earn more wins if they can continue their stellar play. Hesmer made two first-half saves and KC, who were the highest scoring team in the league (2.67 goals per game), had just three shots in the second half although they were hampered by the ejection of defender Julio Cesar for a second caution in the 72nd minute.
“We’ve really been priding ourselves on keeping that zero," Crew captain Chad Marshall. “It’s not like we’re getting lucky keeping it at zero. We’re limiting their chances.
“It’s nice. The amount of running Kevin (Burns) and Manu (Emmanuel Ekpo) did in the middle was unbelievable. We really appreciate it from the backs.”
Marshall is the lone holdover on the back line, but he said the unit has jelled quickly.
“No one wants to let anybody down,” he said. “No one wants to be that one mistake that happens in the game.
“Maybe that was a problem in the past,” he added. “We’d give up one mistake a game and get punished. When the mistake happens now guys are busting to get over there and cover it. It’s fun to be a part of it.”