COLUMBUS – The Crew have rediscovered their defensive game, but they’re still searching for goals.
Even though William Hesmer set a club record with his 11th shutout of the season, his simply could not dent ex-Crew member Jon Busch and had to settle for a scoreless tie Saturday in rainy Crew Stadium.
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While the Crew (13-7-7) clinched a playoff spot with Kansas City’s loss to New York, the Red Bulls moved a point clear of Columbus in the Eastern Conference with three games left.
“We still want to win the East,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “We are going to do everything we can to win those games.”
They’ll need to get untracked in front of the opposition net, because the Crew have been blanked in the past three home games, including another scoreless draw against FC Dallas on Aug. 24 and a 4-0 blanking by Seattle Sounders on Sept. 18.
The Crew’s home goalless streak is 280 minutes.
“We cannot finish the last touch,” forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “Sometimes we make a mistake. I prefer to tie this way than when you don’t have any possibilities to score.”
The Crew had several good chances, but Busch, who played for Columbus from 2002-06, denied Steven Lenhart in the 72nd minute and pushed a Chad Marshall header over the bar three minutes later.
“Buschy was the man of the match,” Warzycha said.
But the Crew boss was more upset that his team only put four shots on goal out of 17 attempts.
“We created some great chances and didn’t score,” Warzycha said. “That was the story of the game. We created chances. You have to put the ball in the net. Whoever is in front of the goal has to have more composure.”
At least the defense showed up. After allowing nine goals in the past three MLS games, Hesmer had to make only two saves to break the clean sheet mark first set by Busch in 2004 and equaled by Hesmer in 2008 when the Crew won the MLS Cup.
“Congratulations [to Hesmer],” Busch said. “That’s fantastic. The only thing he’s got that I really want is that MLS Cup ring. That’s the only thing I care about. If I can get one of those, that’s all that matters.”
Hesmer said the past few matches have been tough for him personally.
“I take a lot pride in our defense and have never been a part of something like that since I’ve been here,” he said. “We’re getting back to the basics and being more attentive and being more vocal. We’re not taking anything for granted and saying things that need to be said and not relying on the fact we’ve been there before.
“It’s a great testament to our defense and our team defending,” he added. “We got away from it for a couple of games but [Saturday night] was what Crew soccer are all about. We’re out there battling, we’re winning aerial balls, we’re blocking shots. The guys did everything I could ask for.”
Except put the ball in the net.
“It’s OK for us,” Schelotto said. “We know it’s coming.”