Connect with us

Leagues: MLS

Columbus Crew Win One for the Ages

Eddie Gaven scores the game winner at The Monster's Cave

Eddie Gaven scores the game winner at The Monster's Cave

While most people were still nursing their hangovers from a two day orgy of UEFA Champions League matches, the CONCACAF equivalent was contested at sites around Northern and Central America the past three nights. So perhaps you missed what is arguably the finest result yet by an MLS team in the 2009 edition of the tournament. What the Columbus Crew did Wednesday night in winning 1-0 against Deportivo Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica is break through against a tough opponent in a stadium most people fear – The Monster’s Cave. No MLS team has ever found success at Saprissa Stadium, until now.

Eddie Gaven scored the game’s only goal in just the fifth minute, and goalkeeper Will Hesmer valiantly kept the ball out of his net over the next 85 minutes to complete the shutout. With the win, Columbus takes an important step toward the Champions League quarterfinals, and trail group leaders Cruz Azul by only one point. With two of their three remaining groups stage matches to be played at Crew Stadium, the odds are good that the Crew will advance to the knock-out stage of the tournament.

Perhaps the CONCACAF Champions League does not have the same stature and importance as the MLS Cup playoffs among the vast majority of MLS fans. I find that to be too myopic a view. This tournament is arguably the most important measuring stick for the strength of MLS versus other leagues in our region. I for one am proud of the Crew and their achievement, even though I don’t support the club themselves. The monumental victory at Saprissa is reason to celebrate for all American soccer fans.

However, a day has passed, and I am disappointed in how little excitement this historic victory has generated among MLS supporters. This is above-the-fold headline material for soccer media and bloggers. Instead, I found little to read at my favorite news sources. When I brought the match up with a colleague of mine, he just shrugged it away as a one-off result. I protested, but was unable to change his frame of mind.

Well, it’s not too late to celebrate the Crew’s victory – bring it up this weekend at the pub, or during your visit to watch your local MLS club play. Hoist your drink high and be proud of this result. Now, can we just get an MLS team victory in Mexico…

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. vic

    September 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    yep kartik,
    big win in saprissa. MLS needs “to represent”. Of course, looking at the standings shows that the caribbean isnt. PR & the 2 T&T teams are in dead last. MLS could take this seriously, but it could end up just being seen as a Mexico vs US tournament. Costa RIca is good, but how about paying 2 s. american teams to play in final 16 of CCL? Maybe from Colombia & northern state where Recife clubs play?

  2. Joe in Indianapolis

    September 18, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Glad I sparked such a response. Still not feeling th MLS teams in CCL, but I’ll definitely give it another look.

  3. 2010 Club World Cup

    September 18, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    The CCL is epic. Do you guys have any idea about the history of Sportive Saprissa? It’s a storied ballclub. This win was huge.

    Continental competition should always matter over domestic competition, worldwide. As a football club, you should always strive to be the best on earth. Period. Don’t forsake your chance to prove that, just so you could qualify for next year’s edition.

    And now this sets up an epic match next week at Crew Stadium vs Blue Cross. The Crew will be gunning for revenge after the 5-0 drubbing in Mexico. All bets are off. The clash will be gigantic (massive).

    You can watch the Crew’s next CCL opponent tomorrow at 6 Eastern on Aztec America.

  4. Lee14

    September 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Great Post!! Great Win for the Crew! I am an United fan and while not as impressive we got a nice road result this week too. I avoided seeing the result yesterday and then watched it on DVR last night. Great goal by Gaven and great team defense and Hesmer was unbelievable! DC’s tie last year in Saprissa was actually with a 3rd string keeper and all reserves. I think their energy got them that tie and they surprised Saprissa a little. Columbus had that energy last night and the talent!

    I have been complaining about United paying reserves to but then I started to watch some of the other UEFA group matches and even the biggest and deepest teams mix reserves with starters for their mid week away fixtures to try and draw on the road and go for the win at home.

    Joe in Indy – Do a little more research before announcing Seattle didn’t play reserves in the USOC.

    1) They only had that other tourney to play in so it is easier to manage the roster while,CLB, DC, HOU had CCL and USOC.

    2) I just watched the Sounders beat DC twice in 10 days(unfortunately) and in those games These players never made the field and some were not in the traveling 18…Evan Brown, Kevin Forrest, Stephen King, Nathan Sturgis & Jarrod Smith. All of these players either scored key goals are had action, some significant action in all their USOC games. Montero did not even play Seattle’s first USOC game and came on as a substitute in game 2.

    3) Here is a quote from Sigi after winning their play in game to qualify for the USOC over Colorado. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to play in the Open Cup,” said Schmid, whose Columbus Crew teams were all eliminated in play-in games. “It was really frustrating because I’ve wanted to get back into the tournament. But for us, starting starters was really out of necessity.”

    Bottomline…Every coach puts the best possible line up they can each and every game that they have access to. They don’t want to lose as much as the fans don’t!

  5. peter osgood

    September 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Great post, great thread.

    Serious congrats to the Crew. They have a fantastic core support, have been playing the most interesting football for several years in the leauge, and I still hope that Gavin can step up, move to Europe and have a great National team career.

    Up the Crew!

  6. BC

    September 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Amen, brilliant job out of Columbus representing MLS abroad and a brilliant article. They weren’t playing A “B” side just for fun either, they had a ton of injuries, a makeshift backline, and got the job done at the 2nd hardest place to play in CONCACAF. Thanks for the recognition of the biggest win by an MLS team abroad in quite some time.

  7. EastLAChiva

    September 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Im no Columbus Crew fan, but I’m an MLS fan and that means I’m cheering for them. Any victory abroad, is a good victory for the MLS.

    Go Crew!

  8. Rex

    September 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    It’s not that the MLS coaches dont care about about CCL, but rather they have to pick and choose which games to play their players. MLS roster restrictions are to blame not MLS coaches. Try playing 4 games in 4 countries in 13 days with a roster of 24 players like the Dynamo did last season. Throw in injuries and suspension and you’re lucky to have a full 18.

    Heck, on Wed. Houston could only suit up 17 players and Dom Kinnear even brought 3 keepers just to try and fill up his bench.

  9. Chris B

    September 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I find it funny that when MLS teams lose in CCL matches there are tons of posts about how MLS sucks. Now, they win in one of the hardest places to play and it takes days for a mention. I don’t expect extreme platitudes but an “atta boy” seems in order!

    • Joe in Indianapolis

      September 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

      I do appreciate the attention this site gives to CCL. ESPN generally offers a one paragraph mention each week they play.

  10. Ryan

    September 18, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Joe in Indy,

    Actually, the Crew played their B team at Saprissa against Saprissa’s A team. Saprissa rested some of their better players in their game on Sunday against Herediano to prepare for Wednesday’s qualifier. Saprissa knew they had to win at home to soldify that second spot, so they played their best.

    The Crew with 7 games in 20 or so days didn’t really have much of a choice. But, Warzycha views his whole team as capable and he needs good performances out of the reserves as well. They handed him a big one, which leads to a fresh team away in Chicago. Genius coaching by Warzycha.

    He hasn’t always got it right in Open Cup and early on, but good balancing in this run.

    • Joe in Indianapolis

      September 18, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      I admit I know very little about Saprissa. Good for them. Wish I could say the same for MLS teams. Especially with such a good standing in the MLS race thus far, would it be out of the question to play the B squad against MLS (inferior) competition and play the starting 11 against Saprissa?

      • Robert

        September 19, 2009 at 3:37 am

        Joe:”I admit I know very little about Saprissa. Good for them. Wish I could say the same for MLS teams. Especially with such a good standing in the MLS race thus far, would it be out of the question to play the B squad against MLS (inferior) competition and play the starting 11 against Saprissa?”

        You do realize the MLS team the Crew plays next is 3 points back of them right? That the Supporter’s Shield(automatic entry into next year’s group phase of the CCL) and home field advantage in the playoffs are at stake in a 6 point swing?

        Besides, as the Crew showed in Costa Rica, they don’t have a B team. They all wear the colors as one team, all capable.

  11. Dutch

    September 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

    In my opinion the CCL is critical to the success of MLS. The league will never gain respect until they start winning against other country club teams. I don’t care if they are playing B players. MLS will gain many new fans, including UEFA fans once they start winning CCL games.

  12. buddlepele2

    September 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

    If you must, say the Crew played their B team, but the B team has played some of the best soccer for the Crew this year. They were aggressive and took advantage early, then played decent defense. If I had to be negative I’d say Saprissa didn’t play it’s best match.

    I agree with the first poster. Very good result and I’m proud of my Crew and Eddie Gaven.

  13. Adam Edg

    September 18, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I love the CCL and really wish it carried more weight.

    Nothing made me happier than to see Seattle approach the USOC with the same attitude that many lower level clubs (PDL especially) bring. I hope that Seattle continues to set the pace and raise expectations for MLS teams. Giving every competition weight is a very European approach and is the key to making our league, teams, and the sport itself legitimate in the US.

  14. Joe in Indianapolis

    September 18, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Don’t know how important this was. Saprissa maybe had 7,000 attendance from the looks of it. Hardly the same rowdy crowd at national qualifiers. Columbus didn’t play starters. I doubt the CR team played starters. This is the equivalent of my Indiana Hoosiers sending a B team to play the Florida Gators B team in Gainesville and then 5,000 people show up. If we won, I doubt anyone would be screaming WE WON IN THE SWAMP!! The radon no one cares about Columbus winning is easy to figure out. Dead crowd. B teams. I realize MLS has roster restrictions. But I can’t get excited about games if the teams themselves don’t do everything to win and treat it as a secondary competition. Seattle Sounders actually tried to win the US Open Cup this year and they did. I’m hoping they will be the first MLS team to take the Champions League seriously. Until then, I don’t see why I should stay up late

    • todd

      September 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm

      Do you get excited about UEFA CL/EuropaL? They play b-teams in half-filled stadiums for the most part too. Saying that Crew or Dynamo don’t take CL serious is a really really ignorant statement. Both teams are trying to juggle MLS and CL (and USMNT callups) and its not easy with the small roster sizes we have. Seattle had a fairy-tale run to the Open Cup, they were no more serious about winning it than the other teams. While I’m looking forward to Seattle’s inclusion in the CL next season, I don’t see them making any more of a run at it than Houston was able to last cycle. That the knock-out rounds occur during our pre-season is never going to allow us to be on an even playing field with Closura(?)-hardened meso-american teams.

      • Joe in Indianapolis

        September 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

        I don’t think it’s an ignorant statement to say that MLS teams value MLS games over CCL games. The only person Seattle didn’t start in their USOC run was Ljungberg. And he did play in the final. For example, Keller (MVP candidate) started every USOC game. Montero played in all but one game.

        Don’t get me wrong, I know the roster size makes it difficult to compete in more than one competition. But I don’t understand the universal choice of MLS teams to value a MLS game that you really don’t need to win to get into the playoffs over a CCL game you arguably must win to advance. I know there is a stronger financial incentive to win MLS than to win CCL. Maybe that explains a bit.

    • Rex

      September 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm

      Saprissa is not necessarily about about the number of fans (total capacity is only 24k) its about the location of the fans. The stands are right on the field and very steep. It’s like the fans are on top of you. The bad turf is the other issue that teams have to battle. Obviously the atmosphere was not near what it is for a WCQ, but that doesnt mean it’s not hard place to play.

      • Joe in Indianapolis

        September 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm

        But when you take 60% of the crowd out of the place, it isn’t exactly “One for the Ages” either.

    • Paul

      September 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

      Joe, it should be noted that Columbus IS taking this competition seriously. Older veterans (Moreno, Hejduk) were resting, now from my job’s viewpoint there was no reason the right-back Hejduk should have not traveled, as he is now injury-free after USMNT overload in the early MLS campaign, but he remained in the States.

      The Crew’s recent signing of solid striker Emilio Renteria has still not been approved for international play, let alone that Columbus has yet to send him out on an MLS pitch. He was not an option. Another artificial playing surface prompted Guillermo Barros Schelotto be sat for protection, Defender of the Year Chad Marshall has a sprained knee, stand-out defender Eric Brunner served a red-card suspension, and their left-back Gino Padula spent time hospitalized for an illness the past weekend. Three of their 4 starting defenders were forced to sit out by unwilling means, you can bet on it that they would have taken the pitch if healthy or eligible.

      Make no mistake about Columbus’ B squad, they are capable of getting results, more so than DC or Houston’s B-squad experiments to my belief. In my opinion both DC and Houston have the caution flag out for their organizations in these CONCACAF CL matches. If I remember correctly, all Columbus starters started against Cruz Azul and look how that turned out. I spoke with Crew supporters after that incident via online means and they reported back that their organization had held a “Supporter’s Summit” in which their coach and players met with supporters to discuss how serious CONCACAF and the World Club Cup is to them. I’ve seen numerous quotes from their coach and Schelotto claiming that they are theoretically aiming for CONCACAF’s throat and are confident in themselves. Caution flag here? Looks to me like Columbus has the peddle to the floor in sixth gear (and still lost 5-0 to Cruz Azul).

      So go ahead, don’t read up on different clubs that represent your own league or be informed of their intent to dominate both CONCACAF and MLS with the goals of getting to both World Club Cup and MLS Cup 09. And then you can save-face for missing history by writing them off as something you pretend to not want to know anything about. Bravo.

      And the Hoosiers A team is maybe equivalant to, say, Florida’s 3rd string? (insert raised eyebrow and smile) Relegation and promotion in NCAAF anyone??

  15. eplnfl

    September 18, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Good job here. The CCL needs more attention. The Crew win was a big one. It is great to see a MLS team perform well in it during the playoff run in the MLS season.

    Anyone know why it was scheduled the same days as the CL. A lot of soccer fans here in America come home from work and decide to run the DVR they set for the afternoon game from Europe rather than watch the CCL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Leagues: MLS

Translate »