Steve Clark saves Columbus Crew In Scoreless Draw With D.C. United


May 24, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark (1) distributes the ball from goal in the first half of the game against the Chicago Fire at Crew Stadium. The Columbus Crew beats the Chicago Fire by the score of 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Clark, take a bow. The main goalkeeper for Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus Crew made a number of key saves in the second half to give the Crew a hard-fought scoreless draw with Ben Olsen’s D.C. United at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The draw means that the New England Revolution will remain at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference, while the Crew stay in the middle of the pack.

Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, for the match between D.C. United and the Columbus Crew.

1. D.C. turn up heat early

The Columbus Crew were decimated by injuries coming into this match, which meant D.C. United were playing with a handicap. Rookie Steve Birnbaum made his debut today for D.C. A fourth-minute corner by Fabian Espindola, D.C.’s top scorer and provider, was cleared by Columbus defender Michael Parkhurst. In the fifth minute, Espindola had a shot saved. Another chance from Espindola was blocked in the ninth minute of play. Jairo Arrieta got a shot off in the 10th minute but missed wide left. Chris Rolfe had a rocket collected by Clark in the 12th minute of play.

2. EJ can’t break the mold

A free kick from D.C.’s Luis Silva in the 19th minute missed wide left. Both teams were looking to engage in a ball possession battle, with both midfields playing physical football and few chances to show for it. Eddie Johnson almost broke through in the 30th minute but was offsides. Even if he wasn’t offsides, Johnson’s shot was collected anyway by Clark. Ethan Finlay’s chance in the 31st minute hit the boards instead of the net.

3. Tough going for Nick DeLeon

Nick DeLeon won a corner in the 34th minute of play that was blocked then eventually collected by Clark. Johnson was offsides again in the 38th minute after receiving a pass from Silva. DeLeon made a meal of his touch in the 39th minute, conceding a goal kick. In the 41st minute, a shot from Johnson was blocked. D.C.’s Bobby Boswell was cautioned in the 42nd minute for a rough challenge. Parkhusrt ran out of space in the 43rd minute. In the 44th minute, Rolfe had a go at goal but missed wide right. In the first minute of stoppage time, Crew defender Bernardo Anor had an attempt sail high and out.

Team Statistics
(D.C. on left, Columbus on right)
8 Shots 3
1 Shots on Target 0
3 Shots off Target 3
4 Blocked Shots 0
1 Corners 1
9 Crosses 10
3 Offsides 0
8 Fouls 10
1 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
159 Total Passes 183
72 % Passing Accuracy 71 %
46.4 % Possession 53.6 %
23 Duels Won 24
5 Tackles Won 6
0 Saves 1
11 Clearances 12

4. Columbus turn up the heat in second half

Early in the second half, Arrieta had a shot sail wide right of the mark in the 47th minute. A cross from Cristian in the 53rd minute was collected by Clark. Eddie Johnson was shaken up soon after and would have to be treated before returning to action. Anor and Finlay tested Bill Hamid in the 55th minute. Justin Meram entered the fran in the 56th minute to add some life to the offense. Boswell had a shot in the center in the box sail wide left in the 58th minute.

5. Second half impasse at FedEx Field

In the 63rd minute, a free kick by Columbus’s Ben Speas was called back by foul on Tyson Wahl. Fabian Espindola’s 64th minute corner looked tempting, but Michael Parkhurst was there to clear Birnbaum’s first shot on goal. The Crew were frustrated by D.C. United’s organization in the back but were also paying the price with the inability to make the final pass. As for D.C. United, they were having few chances on goal themselves and were instead locked in a possession battle, as with the first half. Lewis Neal came in for Chris Rolfe in the 76th minute to add a spark offensively for United.

6. Steve Clark: the hero for Columbus

Crew forward Adam Bedell came in for Speas in the 77th minute of play. D.C. United defender Sean Franklin, a former Los Angeles Galaxy bookend, saw his chip collected by Clark in the 77th minute. Christian was cautioned in the 79th minute for a foul on Bedell. Anor’s ensuing free kick was collected by Hamid. Columbus’s Tony Tchani had to concede a corner in the 82nd minute of play that was cleared. Hamid made a massive save on Bedell in the 83rd minute that is sure to be a Save of the Week candidate.

Olsen was beside himself for what he perceived to be lack of consistent refereeing in the 85th minute. Nonetheless, both teams pressed for the breakthrough winner. In the 88th minute, Meram was given a caution for a harsh challenge on Neal. Clark stood tall on a mad scramble in the 89th minute. In the first minute of stoppage time, Finlay missed wide left. Jared Jeffrey came in for Silva in the 62nd minute and he nearly had the game winner in the second minute of play but his shot was saved.

Anor had one of the more speculative volleys in the third minute of second half stoppage time. A similarly speculative shot came from Espindola seconds later, missing well right of the mark. Anor conceded a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time and Eric Gehrig also earned a yellow for the protest. It was Espindola to ice the deal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but it was Clark to make the decisive save after the soft chip failed to faze him.

Team Statistics

(D.C. United on left, Columbus Crew on right)

3Shots on Target2
6Shots off Target7
5Blocked Shots1
2Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
382Total Passes362
74 %Passing Accuracy74 %
51.5 %Possession48.5 %
40Duels Won46
9Tackles Won8

D.C. United Player Ratings

Bill Hamid 7, Bobby Boswell 6.5, Cristian 6.5, Sean Franklin 6, Steve Birnbaum 8, Chris Rolfe 5, Davy Arnaud 6, Luis Silva 5, Nick DeLeon 6, Eddie Johnson 4, Fabian Espindola 5, Conor Doyle 4, Jared Jeffrey 4, Lewis Neal NR

Columbus Crew Player Ratings

Steve Clark 10, Bernardo Anor 7, Eric Gehrig 4.5, Michael Parkhust 6, Tyson Wahl 7, Agustin Viana 7, Ethan Finlay 8, Hector Jimenez 6, Tony Tchani 7, Jairo Arrieta 5, Justin Meram 3.5, Adam Bedell NR