Cody Cousino / Asst.multimedia editor
Strikers stole the show Saturday as the Columbus Crew defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-1.
Columbus Crew forward Emilio Renteria battled with Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Omar Salgado. Both players dominated portions of the game, but the Crew — and Renteria — had the last word in the their 2-1 victory against the Whitecaps.
Renteria began to single-handedly dominate play at the outset of the second half after Columbus (3-1-3) and Vancouver (1-4-3) went into halftime in a scoreless tie.
In the 49th minute, Renteria streaked from the top of the Vancouver penalty area to collect a loose ball, and collided with Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly. Referee Terry Vaughn decided Nolly had played Renteria’s body, as opposed to playing the ball, and awarded a penalty kick to Columbus.
Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers said there was no question about who would take the penalty kick.
“I just went to go congratulate (Renteria),” Rogers said. “I thought he did a good job to get his body in front of the keeper. I didn’t even ask him. I think if a guy draws a penalty like that, he should take it himself.”
After receiving congratulations from Rogers, Renteria buried his penalty in the left corner of Nolly’s net to give Columbus a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.
Renteria wasn’t done yet.
Crew midfielder Dejan Rusmir provided an opportunity for a second goal in the 59th minute when he played Renteria into Vancouver’s penalty area. Nolly dove to stop the shot but couldn’t get a hand on Renteria’s left-footed strike, and the Crew took a 2-0 lead.
“Normally, I never score with the left,” Renteria said through an interpreter. “This is the first time.”
Salgado, the first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, had a response for Renteria.
In the 69th minute, Salgado scored a headed goal off midfielder Terry Dunfield’s lobbed cross into the Crew’s penalty area. Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer dove to his left, but Salgado sent the ball back across the goal to Hesmer’s right.
The goal, Salgado’s career first, cut Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1. After the game, Hesmer was complimentary of the Whitecaps’ heralded 17-year-old striker.
“It was a great header,” Hesmer said. “He did well in getting in between two defenders and finding space. And he puts (the ball) back against the grain, which was a tough one for me.”
In the 77th minute, Salgado broke through Columbus’ defensive line again and took an uncontested shot that would have tied the game. Hesmer sprawled to make one of his two saves in the matchup and kept the Crew’s lead intact.
By the time Renteria was substituted out of the game in the 78th minute, he had already given the Crew the offense they needed. Salgado was unable to match Renteria’s production, and Columbus hung on for a 2-1 victory.
Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven said Renteria created “too many problems” for Vancouver.
“He scored two great goals, obviously,” Gaven said. “That’s what we need, someone to just put the ball in the back of the net, and that’s kinda what we haven’t had throughout the year.”
Renteria, who has scored three goals in the Crew’s past two games, will attempt to continue his offensive surge against Seattle Sounders FC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Crew Stadium.