HARRISON, N.J. – Duncan Oughton had one request of team management after the Crew secured a 3-1 victory Thursday in its first trip to Red Bull Arena.
The victory snapped an 11-game winless streak on the road against the Red Bulls – all at Giants Stadium – and was witnessed by more than 100 Crew fans who made the trip from Columbus and occupied an upper deck section at the north end of the stadium.
“It was nice to have a big traveling support group to see us end that streak,” Oughton said. “Maybe they should send a bus or two all the time to all our games. It was loud. The guys appreciated it.”
Many of the Crew backers made the nine-hour plus trip via a chartered bus and they started chanting and banging drums an hour before kickoff and didn’t let up until the players gratefully acknowledged them after the game.
“It was amazing,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “I saw them before the game. It was nice to see them in New York. They didn’t come for nothing.”
What they saw was the Crew (5-0-2) move past the Red Bulls (5-4-0) into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Midfielder Eddie Gaven, a New Jersey native and former New York player, was moved up top from his midfield position and scored in the 35th minute and assisted on Andy Iro’s goal in the 39th.
The Crew was challenged when Tony Tchani scored in the 81st but Emilio Renteria countered two minutes later.
Goalkeeper William Hesmer credited the Crew supporters for helping the team through some tough patches.
“I can’t put into words how much that means to us to have that type of dedication from our fans,” he said. “When we see that commitment and how passionate they are that’s inspiring. In a tough game like this where we’re really clawing at the 80th, 90th minute, their energy gave us a lot of help.”
NO REST: The Crew plays Sunday at Kansas City and will need to muster some energy by then.
“(Thursday’s) game took a whole lot out of us because we were defending for so much in the second half and we’re going to have to regroup, take care of our bodies and get ready for Sunday,” Hesmer said.
One player will be rested. Leading scorer Guillermo Barros Schelotto served a one-game suspension against the Red Bulls for throwing an elbow against Chivas.
Schelotto did not travel to New York but met the team in Kansas City on Friday.
TIME WELL SPENT: Renteria has played very little but has tried to keep sharp through training. He also put his mind to work.
His first MLS goal came off a turnover that allowed him to break in alone against NY goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. As he approached Coundoul, Renteria tapped the ball with his right foot and moved around him for an open shot.
“It was a premeditated move,” Renteria said. “I saw Coundoul sits there. I saw him do that in a game. I knew what he was going to do. It was the same as he did on video.”
TOO CLOSE: With the score 2-0, Crew forward Steven Lenhart nearly scored an own goal as his clearing header missed the right post by inches with a stunned Hesmer looking on.
Hesmer was in a forgiving mood afterward, “We were struggling at that moment and he was doing everything he could to help out. We really appreciate his effort and energy. We asked him to sit in there a little bit so we’d have numbers.”
A NUMBER OF THINGS: The last time the Crew scored three times was Aug. 8 at San Jose in a 3-0 win … The Crew is 10-0-0 and outscored opponents 23-8 without Schelotto in the regular season since 2008. The team is also 6-0-4 with a 17-8 goal advantage when Eric Brunner and Andy Iro play together in the central defense. They will be paired again on Sunday with Chad Marshall away with the U.S. national team.