William Hesmer lauded his teammates, some of whom played unfamiliar positions, but it was his own work in goal that saved the match long enough for Jeff Cunningham to score the winner in the 90th minute as the Crew defeated Vancouver 1-0 on Wednesday at Empire Field.
While the headline will go to Cunningham because his header off a cross from Josh Gardner against 10-man Vancouver tied him with Jaime Moreno for the MLS career goal lead at 133, it was Hesmer’s penalty-kick save in the 73rd minute that was the difference.
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“That PK changed the game,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “Will made a great save and we started to believe, and we scored a goal.”
Hesmer stopped Terry Dunfield after Alain Rochat was fouled by Dejan Rusmir off a free kick. Dunfield sent a weak shot to the lower left corner that Hesmer got a hand on for one of his seven saves.
“I had a good read on it and it wasn’t the best of penalties,” Hesmer said. “If you play the game long enough, you have an idea how a guy approaches it. Some guys are good at disguising. Tonight, I don’t think it was disguised too well.
“It was a big momentum shift. It took the wind out of their sails,” he added.
Not only did Hesmer make the save, but he grabbed the rebound before any Vancouver player could reach it. In Saturday’s 2-0 loss at FC Dallas, Hesmer spilled the initial shot and Brek Shea scored on the leftover for the game’s first goal.
“It wasn’t something I was able to do in Dallas, so I was glad there was no second chance tonight,” Hesmer said.
He bailed out the Crew (7-5-6) several times for his sixth shutout of the season and 40th of his career.
“The penalty kick was a really big save,” defender Julius James said. “We have a great team that covers for each and helps each other out. Today was Will’s turn.”