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After weather delay, Crew takes Rowdies by storm in U.S. Open

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First came the lightning. Then came the thunder.

In all, the Columbus Crew took the Tampa Bay Rowdies by storm in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open tournament Wednesday night. After a two-hour game delay because of lightning, the Crew had its way in a 4-0 defeat.

“I’m not happy with the result at all and it’s a tough one for us to swallow,” Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell said. “We never really got started when the restart came and the Crew scored with their first shot of the match. … We looked at the opposition and we know Columbus has some really good attacking players. They’re a real threat going forward and they showed that tonight. We knew they would be clinical, but, unfortunately for us, they were very clinical tonight.”

The match was scoreless in the 26th minute when the lightning came and delayed the game for 1:55.

Justin Meram opened the scoring in the 41st minute when Frankie Sanfilippo tried to clear the ball, but got only a slight touch on it and it remained in the path of Meram. He finished it well to give the Crew a 1-0 halftime lead. Columbus dominated in the second half with goals in the 48th, 52nd and 68th minutes from Cristian Martinez, Ethan Finlay (penalty) and Marshall Hollingsworth, respectively to pull away and ease into the next round.

“We knew that we had created a few chances in the first half,” Campbell said. “I wanted the guys to do more of the same and stay patient in possession, but as I’ve said, Columbus was very clinical against us. … We can learn a lot from this and strive to get to their level.

“We had a lot of shots and a lot of chances, but we didn’t work their goalkeeper enough. Matt (Pickens) had no chance on any of their goals, but it wasn’t like he was overworked. Columbus’s first four chances all resulted in goals. That’s the difference between the levels, when they had a chance, they scored, but we didn’t manage to finish any of ours off.”

Tampa Bay has now officially reached the midseason break and does not play again until the Fall Season opener against the Jacksonville Armada FC at home on July 2.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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