COLUMBUS – Andres Mendoza continued his hot scoring with goals in each half as the Crew rolled over 10-man Colorado Rapids for a 4-1 victory on Sunday at Crew Stadium.
After Conor Casey staked the visitors to an early lead, Eddie Gaven leveled the score before Mendoza slammed a scorcher in the 18th minute to put the Crew ahead for good. He made it 3-1 in the 48th minute while the Rapids struggled after Casey was ejected in the 29th minute.
Tommy Heinemann finished the scoring in the 57th minute with his first MLS goal, putting the game away for the Crew (6-4-6, 24 points). The win puts Columbus into second in the Eastern Conference, two points back of Philadelphia with their largest output since a 4-0 win against New England on Sept. 6, 2008.
Six of Mendoza’s seven goals have been in the past six games to move him one goal shy of the league lead.
It should have been no surprise that Columbus gave up an early goal or got the man advantage. The Crew have conceded five times in the first 10 minutes of games this season. Meanwhile, an opponent has been sent off in seven games this season.
Colorado made four changes from a loss to Los Angeles with the most notable being the return of midfielder Brian Mullan from a 10-game suspension for a tackle that broke the leg of Seattle’s Steve Zakuani on April 22.
For the Crew, centerback Andy Iro made his first start of the season because of an abductor in injury to Julius James.
But there was little Iro could do in the 5th minute, when the Rapids (5-5-7, 22 points) took the lead through Casey. The prolific striker executed to a perfect snap header from Jamie Smith’s corner kick to put the visitors up 1-0.
Columbus didn’t take long to overcome the deficit thanks to some egregious passing by the Rapids.
First, Gaven took the ball from Scott Palguta at midfield and went solo down the right side to the penalty area where he cut right and slid a shot past the shin of defender Drew Moor to the far netting in the 12th minute. It was Gaven’s second of the year and first since April 1.
Mendoza then took advantage of an errant back pass in the 18th minute and rocketed an 18-yarder off the crossbar and into the net to give the Crew the lead.
The situation got worse for the Rapids with Casey’s sending off. The forward got around defender Josh Gardner and lunged recklessly for a 50-50 ball near the right post as Hesmer went to the ground. Casey’s knee slid into the left jaw of Hesmer.
Casey dropped his head knowingly before referee Andrew Chapin had even brandished his red card.
The Crew had one good chance the remainder of the half but Gaven’s strike from 25 yards was stopped by Matt Pickens.
Although the Rapids brought on Jamaican striker Omar Cummings for his first action since May 4, there was no denying the Crew after the break. Mendoza was the recipient of the first bit of good fortune. Defender Chad Marshall’s clearance in front of the goal bounced over Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura near midfield, and Mendoza raced in alone, ripping a snap shot from 18 yards.
Heinemann got his chance when Gaven’s cross from the right side deflected off Tyrone Marshall and fell kindly to Heinemann. His one-time shot bounced once, but Pickens could only get a piece of the shot and was forced to watch it trickle in over the line.
Heinemann and Mendoza were subbed shortly thereafter, but unlike the game on May 28 when Mendoza stormed to the locker room when he was taken out after scoring twice against Chivas USA, he sat on the bench the rest of the way on this night.
The Crew next travel to Dallas on Saturday. The Rapids return home for a Sunday evening match against Houston.
COL – Conor Casey 4 (Jamie Smith 2) 5’
CLB – Eddie Gaven 2 12’
CLB – Andres Mendoza 6 18’
CLB – Andres Mendoza 7 (Chad Marshall 1) 48’
CLB – Tommy Heinemann 1 57’
COL – Conor Casey (red card: serious foul play) 29’
CLB – Tommy Heinemann (caution: reckless foul) 38’
COL – Drew Moor (caution: dissent) 52’
COLORADO – Matt Pickens – Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Scott Palguta – Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni (Ross LaBeauex, 16’), Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith – Conor Casey, Quincy Amarikwa (Omar Cummings, 46’).
COLUMBUS – William Hesmer – Sebastian Miranda – Andy Iro, Chad Marshall – Josh Gardner – Rich Balchan, Emmanuel Ekpo (Eric Gehrig, 85’) , Eddie Gaven, Bernardo Anor – Tommy Heinemann, Andres Mendoza.
Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Weather: 75 and sunny
Time of Game: 1:48