COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the Columbus Crew fell behind New England this past Saturday in the final seconds of the first half, it could have been a demoralizing blow. But as has been the case much of the season, having work left to do in the second half didn’t demoralize the Crew — it gave them a boost.
Columbus rallied for a 3-1 victory in Crew Stadium and increased their Eastern Conference lead to three points over Philadelphia heading into Saturday’s home showdown against the Union.
“It was a great response from the guys,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We talked about it at halftime, that this wasn’t the first time we were 1-0 down at home and that we would be able to score some goals in the second half.”
For the sixth time in 12 home matches, the Crew fell behind 1-0, but thanks to an own-goal and scores from Julius James and Emilio Rentería (above), Columbus improved to 3-1-2 in those games. Midfielder Dilly Duka, who came off the bench to assist on the third goal, said there was no panic at the break.
“I came into the locker room for only a little, because I had to warm up, but we were very positive,” he said. “Everyone knew it was going to come. We came out and really possessed. There wasn’t one point in the game that we were down on ourselves even though they had the goal.”
The Crew (10-7-7) have the best record in MLS when trailing at the half at 2-0-4, a common occurrence since 21 of their 27 goals have been scored after the break.
“It’s not something we want to do, [but] we did that a lot in 2008 and that worked out,” defender Chad Marshall said, referencing the season Columbus won the MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield double.
Any way they can: The first goal in Crew history was on an own-goal by D.C. United’s Thor Lee on April 13, 1996, in the 18th minute. So maybe it was appropriate that the 700th in the regular season was an own-goal as well.
Revs defender Kevin Alston knocked a flighted ball from Andrés Mendoza into the New England net while dealing with a strong run from Tommy Heinemann in the 54th minute. Alston and Heinemann each stuck out a foot in an attempt to get to the ball and Heinemann feels he may have been the one redirecting it over goalkeeper Matt Reis.
“I think I did,” he said. “We both lunged at it. We got there at the same time. It is what it is. The win’s more important than that, obviously.”
Not again: The Crew’s top scorers this season were paired on Saturday for the first time since the final five minutes at San Jose on May 14, although the forward duo didn’t last long because of another injury.
Rentería (five goals) entered in the 58th minute, but Mendoza (seven) exited with a leg ailment eight minutes later. They have played 57 minutes together this season.