SEATTLE — Sigi Schmid’s dominance over his former team is finally over.
The Columbus Crew beat their ex-coach for the first time ever, scoring a 2-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field. The win improves the Crew’s all-time record against the Sounders to 1-3-3 in MLS play.
To do it, they got a pair of goals on each side of halftime from Justin Meram and Emilio Rentería. In between, they got some more strong play from goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who had his second straight big performance on the West Coast.
Meram opened the scoring against the run of play, continuing his recent hot streak by scoring his third goal in as many games. The second-year forward was able to get between Adam Johansson and the goal to hit a diving header off a Dilly Duka cross, easily beating Bryan Meredith in the 15th minute.
That was pretty much the Crew’s only real threat of the first half, as they were mostly content to let the Sounders hold possession. Seattle held 60 percent of the possession at halftime and outshot Columbus 8-3, but never really tested Gruenebaum.
Aside from a few chances in which the final pass just wasn’t there, the Sounders’ best opportunity came deep into first-half stoppage time. Midfielder David Estrada was able to control a ball at the edge of the penalty area and sent in a cross that found Álvaro Fernández all alone in front of the goal. But Fernández’s header back toward the near post went just wide.
It wasn’t all good for the Crew, unfortunately. Around the 45th minute, defensive midfielder Danny O’Rourke went down with an ankle injury. The Crew’s captain had to be taken off the field in a stretcher and was replaced by rookie Kevan George, who would go toe-to-toe with the Sounders midfield for the duration.
Seattle came out in the second half looking to pull one back immediately, and nearly got it in the 51st minute. Estrada was again the provider, getting out wide and crossing to the spot for Fredy Montero. The Colombian controlled beautifully before ripping a shot that Gruenebaum parried wide for his best save of the evening.
The Sounders put four more shots on frame by the 55th minute, with Gruenebaum denying them each time.
That set the stage for Rentería to finally break out. The Venezuelan had suffered through a terrible start to the 2012 season, going goalless after placing second on the Crew with eight tallies in 2011.
He finally got on the scoreboard, and did so in spectacular fashion, looping home a half-volley from 30 yards over Meredith.
The goal sequence started with what seemed to be an innocuous throw-in from around midfield. But Rentería out-muscled Estrada and let loose, just beating the retreating ‘keeper for the 2-0 Columbus lead with 14 left to play. It proved to be the fifth goal the Sounders have allowed in their past three games.
Seattle called for all hands on deck for the last 15 minutes, but were rarely able to threaten Gruenebaum’s net.
With the loss Seattle drop to 7-3-2, and 0-2-1 in their last three. They’re back in action on Saturday when they travel to the Home Depot Center to face Chivas USA.
Columbus, meanwhile, climb into the Eastern Conference playoff race with 15 points (4-4-3), and are undefeated in their last four. They return home to host Chicago on Saturday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Emilio Rentería||Checked back into midfield to always provide an outlet. Disrupted Seattle's distribution. And hit a bomb of a goal to finally break his duck.|
|2||Andy Gruenebaum||Didn't have to be as spectacular as last week in San Jose, but still provided a few highlights and was always strong off his line.|
|3||Justin Meram||The switch has been flicked for the second-year forward. He's playing with confidence on and off the ball. Especially in front of net.|
HIGHLIGHTS: SEA vs CLB