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Columbus vs. Stoke City (Match Recap)

James tries to block a Walters shot.
James tries to block a Walters shot.

It may not have been a high profile friendly, but a couple of the team's younger players will remember it for a long time to come. The Crew would come back to beat Stoke City 2-1 behind goals from homegrown players Aaron Horton and Ben Speas.

Crew looked good early as Eddie Gaven would break out in the 18th minute and fire a cross into an unmarked Justin Meram. Meram would bobble the ball and Asmir Begovic would clear the danger.

A Chris Birchall shot minutes later would force Begovic into another save. The rebound would would fall to Dilly Duka; he would put it high.

After playing on the back foot for the first 20 minutes, Stoke would find some space and then a goal. In the 23rd minute, Ryan Shotten found room on the right side and lobbed in a cross that froze Andy Gruenebaum but found Jonathan Walters to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Stoke would control play after the goal, keeping the majority of possession and getting a couple good chances until hald time The best being a Peter Crouch shot that went high from 15 yards in the 34th minute.

The Crew would make wholesale changes to start the 2nd half. The attack heavy lineup would attack relentlessly. Vargas would send a header wide. Aaron Schoenfeld would get a chance in front of goal, but it would be snuffed out. It would be the team's homegrown players who would make the difference as the half wore on.

Columbus would get the long coming equalizer in the 71st minute as Schoenfeld would take a flighted ball and nod it wide. He blocked out and tip the ball to Emilio Renteria. Renteria would drive to the touchline and chop a cross through the 6 yard box. Aaron Horton would jump on the ball and fire dribble a shot into the far corner to tie the game at one.

The Crew pressed for the go ahead goal and would come close several time, often going through Renteria prowling the right wing. He would fire in a high cross that just missed Schoenfeld and Vargas. Minutes later he would be instrumental in getting the winner.

Late in the 2nd half, Eric Gehrig's high pressed caused an immediate turnover. He headily threw the ball quickly to Renteria. Renteria drove down the right, cut back, and slid a cross that found Aaron Schoenfeld. The ball was a bit behind and Schoenfeld poked it back to an unmarked Speas. Speas laced a 17 yard shot that zipped through the box and into the back of the net to give the Crew a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute.

The Crew would close out the game against a weary group of Stoke reserves to seal the team's first friendly win since 2008 against Independiente.

The game wasn't without costs. Josh Williams night was cut short as he picked up a back injury. Nemanja Vukovic would replace him in the 29th minute. Vukovic would come off in the 42nd minute with a left ankle injury with Gehrig replacing him.

Williams injury appears to be minor; he said he would have played through it during a league. However but Vukovic looks to be out for a while with a doctor's visit scheduled tomorrow.

The Crew return to action on Saturday with a league game at Eastern Conference front runners Sporting Kansas City at 8:30pm.