COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew may have found the answer to their early season questions at the top of their offense.
After last year's leading scorer Dominic Oduro proved ineffective in his chances on the field, Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta got a shot in Saturday's 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls and capitalized with the game's opening goal on a penalty kick hammered off the crossbar.
It was also the first time since Federico Higuain's arrival in Columbus that the Argentinian has declined to take a penalty, showing that the team is well aware of how much they need a confident striker.
"They decide [penalty takers] between themselves," head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. "Jairo wanted to get off the mark, he was anxious to score, and it was good that he took it and made it."
The Costa Rican said he thanked Higuain and credited the opportunity for his renewed confidence.
"It was very important for me to score that goal," Arrieta said through a translator. "Not scoring for a few games has been tough. But I showed up … played well, had a couple of chances, scored a goal. So it's important for me to be confident on the field to show the coach that I can play and that I can start."
Though getting on the board was important for Arrieta, a plethora of opportunities could have resulted in more goals, and the forward credited New York goalkeeper Luis Robles for keeping him at just one.
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"I wanted to be there, and I wanted to make chances," he said. "But [Robles] played great, and the chances I had… I couldn't because he played great."
Presumably, Arrieta needs to continue to see minutes for Columbus if he wants a chance of earning a trip to the World Cup with the Costa Rican national team.
"I've got to be confident going into the starting 11 playing well," he said. "It's very important to play well for my teammates as well. With my confidence going in, trying to score goals and make things happen, everyone plays well, as well."