COLUMBUS – Heading into stoppage time against the LA Galaxy, the Columbus Crew seemed destined for a 0-0 draw in front of a sold out home crowd.
There would be no such luck. LA midfielder Landon Donovan collected teammate Omar Gonzalez’s header at the right edge of Columbus’ area and lashed a shot that goalkeeper William Hesmer did well to save. The rebound, however, fell to an onrushing Chad Barrett, who got past defender Sebastian Miranda to fire home the winner with 93 minutes gone.
“I don’t know what we were doing,” Hesmer said. “…Why we just can’t get the ball out of our corner in the 90th minute, I don’t know. We got cute with it a couple of times.
“The ball pops up and nobody wins it and we sit there and watch a couple of headers back and forth. In our third [of the field] in the 90th minute of a 0-0 game at this point of the season we’ve got to be going through and winning the ball. Somebody’s got to take command and not let that happen.”
Crew defender Julius James seemed to be in prime position to stop the movement before it began, but pulled up from heading the ball away. James said after the game that he had heard Donovan yell, “Leave it, leave it!” and mistook him for a teammate. But the entire defense was culpable on the shot.
“We stopped because the other forward is offside,” Miranda said. “It’s our fault.”
The loss dropped the Crew out of first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time since July 23. Columbus currently sit in second place, equal on points with Sporting Kansas City.
And it’s particularly grating because of the way in which it came.
“In the second half we found something,” Hesmer said. “We were dangerous. We spread them out. We frustrated them.”
Alas for the Crew that it was for naught. Hesmer’s counterpart, Josh Saunders, had denied Andres Mendoza, Robbie Rogers and Emilio Renteria in the final five minutes of regulation to keep Columbus scoreless.
And for a team that now find themselves mired in an 0-4-1 slump, it was typical that just one miscue would doom them to defeat.