OBETZ, Ohio – Emilio Renteria has been ruled out of the Columbus Crew's Eastern Conference semifinal opener on Thursday at Colorado because of an inflamed right knee.
The Venezuelan suffered the injury after a collision with Philadelphia goalkeeper Chris Seitz on Sunday in the regular-season finale. He's expected to be ready for the second leg vs. Colorado at home Nov. 6, but Robert Warzycha bemoans the loss of Columbus' most in-form player.
“He was the guy who was hot,” the Crew's head coach said.
Rentería had scored three times in the Crew's past two games, including a tally in last weekend's 3-1 victory against Philadelphia before departing in the 70th minute with five of the Crew’s six shots on goal.
WATCH: Rentería doubles Crew's lead
“He was a handful,” Warzycha said. “We’re playing good soccer when he’s on the field.”
Rentería is third on the team with five goals in 19 games (in nine starts) and has four game-winners, but he missed three MLS matches since Sept. 4 – two while on national-team duty and another with an adductor strain.
He returned to form Oct. 21 against Joe Public in a Champions League match with a pair of goals off the bench in the second half.
“It would be nice to have him, but we have some other players,” Warzycha said. “Hopefully we will be OK.”
He has three experienced forwards to pair with Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who leads the team with nine goals. Peruvian Andrés Mendoza also scored against Joe Public and Philadelphia. He has two goals in 204 minutes of MLS play and two more in the Champions League since signing Sept. 3.
Steven Lenhart has six goals in 27 starts, but four scores have been as a substitute. He served a one-game suspension against Philadelphia. Jason Garey made nine starts out of 22 appearances and has two goals and two assists and had a role in two of the goals at Joe Public.
[inline_node:321657]HE’S A ‘KEEPER
Although Chase Harrison, signed Tuesday as an emergency backup because of the season-ending right shoulder fracture suffered Sunday by starter William Hesmer, spent the past few months as an understudy with D.C. United, he’s no stranger to the Crew.
“I was here last year training with the guys and was fortunate enough that they gave me a call when the injury happened,” Harrison said. “It definitely helps knowing their training style and some of the players coming in.”
The 26-year-old Virginia Tech graduate was chosen by Real Salt Lake in the 2006 MLS Supplement Draft but has never appeared in a league game while bouncing around the lower levels.
He will be the backup to Andy Gruenebaum.
Midfielder Eddie Gaven’s brief stint in goal after Hesmer got hurt and his play at forward for a match in May show he’s the team’s most versatile player. He added another MVP on Monday when he was announced as the Crew’s most valuable player.
“It was definitely a shock to me,” he said.
His acceptance speech at the awards banquet was a simple “Thank you.”
“His speech was better than some of the other guys’,” Warzycha said.