By: Jacob Singer
The Columbus Crew defeated the Philadelphia Union and earned three important points to continue leading the Eastern Conference. Now with the Red Bulls having their eyes set on the Crew, these teams will be battling for first place throughout the second half of the season. The Union, eight points out of the playoffs, are looking good as they continue to build a team—especially with the addition of Justin Mapp in the midfield.
The first half of the match started out with great passing and attacking football. The Union held their own against the Crew. Mapp, from the Chicago Fire, started his first match for the Union. His pace and passing created a number of great opportunities for the new club, and with time he will continue to strengthen his bond with his Union teammates. In the 27th minute, Jason Garey looked [picappgallerysingle id=”9497551″]injured but refused to come off the pitch.
After a couple of attempts at a substitution, Steven Lenhart replaced Garey, who had some sort of a stomach bug. In the 43rd minute, Guillermo Schelotto took a free kick that Lenhart redirected with a brush of a header. With seconds left in the first half, Crew defender Frankie Hejduk earned a yellow card in the eighteen yard box and gave the Union a penalty kick. The replay revealed that Hejduk’s foot only lightly brushed Sebastien Le Toux, who fell like a sack of potatoes. Le Toux scored the PK in the bottom right corner.
The second half of the match opened with a second Lenhart goal. While the first was a subtle redirection, the second could only be described as a Superman header. After running at full speed, he leapt headfirst into the cross, blasting it into the back of the net. A beautiful goal. The Union had a great chance to tie it up in the 86th minute but credit should be given to Will Hesmer, the Crew’s goalie, whose composure saved the day.
Lenhart, as a substitute, earned player of the match with his two goals. While the Union is struggling to earn points, they are developing well as a team and building rivalries. I’m looking forward to watching the Crew and Red Bulls battling for first place throughout this half of the season.