Soccer  > General Soccer  > Crew, Santos set to clash in Columbus
September 21, 2010, 09:52 AM
With positive results last week, Santos and the Columbus Crew have created some distance atop Group B, and both took one step closer toward advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

But a critical match in determining who will finish atop the group could come when the two meet Tuesday at Crew Stadium.

In their last clash at Nuevo Estadio Corona a month ago, Columbus has a goal disallowed and Santos won 1-0 thanks to Jorge Ivan Estrada's strike in second-half stoppage time. The scene shifts to Crew Stadium, which has hosted the United States' last two World Cup qualifying wins against rival Mexico.

For the Crew share that success, they will need to shed the memory of Saturday's rare 4-0 home loss to Seattle Sounders FC.

"We won't dwell on it," Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer told the Columbus Dispatch. "We don't have time. There's another game Tuesday. We're cognizant of what happened. I surely hope this never happens again as long as I'm playing."

Columbus fell behind when Blaise Nkufo scored in the fourth minute, the first of his three goals. Nate Sturgis added a penalty kick to hand Crew its worst home loss since 2005. Columbus, which trails the Los Angeles Galaxy by six points in the race for the MLS Supporters Shield, saw its lead over the New York Red Bulls atop the Eastern Conference shrink to three points.

"Sometimes you reach the point in the season where nothing is going to work for you," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. "That's what happened with us. We're playing decent soccer and then one cross falls through and you're down 1-0. We can't buy a goal. We're playing well, but we have to be a little lucky."

Santos, meanwhile, overcame its 5-2 drubbing by lightly regarded Queretaro a week ago with its sixth win in eight games in the Mexican Apertura, a 201 home win over Necaxa Saturday night. It needed a 45th-minute equalizer by Felipe Baloy and a dramatic 90th-minute winner by Christian Benitez to keep Santos atop Group 1 and ahead of Monterrey with 18 points.

"What was important today was that the team [battled] from the beginning to the end and [we] were rewarded," Baloy told reporters. "We had to win [because] we were in our house where we should not lose any points."

While the match between Santos and Columbus is the marquee one of Group B, Municipal and Joe Public will meet Thursday in Trinidad in what is nearly an elimination match.

Municipal has a slight edge, sitting in third place with two points from three matches. Joe Public, meanwhile, is last with one point.

That point was achieved August 26 in a 1-1 draw with Municipal at Estadio Mateo Flores thanks to Micah Lewis' equalizer in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Mario Rodriguez gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 77th minute.

On Sunday, Municipal celebrated a monumental victory against bitter rival Comunicaciones, crushing the Cremas 4-1 in El Clasico 253 at Estadio Cementos Progreso.

Rodriguez and Guillermo Ramirez each struck for a first-half brace for Municipal, which remained atop the Guatemalan Apertura table with 19 points from nine matches.


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