I had a little time to mull over the controversy that occurred at last night's (6/8/11) Columbus Crew match versus Real Salt Lake.
A brief review. In the 74th minute, The Crew's Justin Meram drove into the Real Salt Lake penalty area and was tripped by a Real Salt Lake defender, drawing a penalty kick. Andres Mendoza, despite a request from fellow striker Jeff Cunningham to take the kick (with the potential of Cunningham becoming The Crew's all-time leading goal scorer and equaling the MLS career goal scoring mark) and protests from his teammates, stepped up and buried the shot.
The aftermath has been well documented today. (see the links below) The Crew ultimately won the match. Jeff Cunningham was gracious when asked about the incident. Andres Mendoza claimed he didn't realize the historical nature of a potential Jeff Cunningham goal. He also claimed he didn't realize that Cunningham had been designated to take PK's by Coach Robert Warzycha at the beginning of the match.
I stood when the PK was called, and the first thought I had was that Jeff Cunningham would take the shot. I was pissed when I saw Andres Mendoza lining up for the kick. I remember thinking, "this f**ker better make it."
And he did...
And I was happy! The Crew had tied the match, and of course ultimately scored the go-ahead goal a few minutes later to notch the victory.
So which side of the Mendoza line do I stand on?
Choice #1? Andres Mendoza is more trouble than he's worth:
He's The Crew's only Designated Player, therefore their highest paid player. I have high expectations of him. He has disappointed me more than impressed me to date. (Remember last week's match versus the New York Red Bulls?) Therefore I thought that after last night's antics I would be firmly on this side of the line-dump him!
Choice #2? Andres Mendoza has the talent and skill to help The Crew be successful:
He's The Crew's leading scorer. He has showed flashes of brilliance. Aren't most strikers egotistical prima donna's anyway (Jeff Cunningham?). Even with the horrible performance finishing against the New York Red Bulls last week, he put himself in position to finish. On form he is the Crew's best choice at striker, and can help the team win.
Reluctantly, I choose #2. I just wish he had a more endearing personality. If he scores goals, I'll be happy.
Although the point may be moot, as it turns out Mendoza suffered a fractured wrist in last night's match, making his status for Sunday's match versus the Chicago Fire questionable.
Shawn Mitchell, Columbus Dispatch-Covering the Crew
Michael Arace-Columbus Dispatch
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