AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men's soccer team suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew and a familiar face in front of 1,662 fans Sunday at Lee Jackson Field.
Former UA star Matt Tutich, who was a four-time, first-team all-league midfielder for the Zips, banged home a header in the 48th minute for the game's only score.
Tutich and a couple other former local college standouts, including defender Ossie Michalsen, who also called Lee Jackson Field home for four seasons, were asked to help fill out the Crew's traveling roster, which was composed of veterans, starters and developmental players. The Crew are the defending champions of Major League Soccer.
Tutich received a pass from Alex Grendi, who crossed the ball from the left side of the box, and punched it into the back left corner of the net early in the second half.
The Crew controlled the action for much of the first half, owning a shots advantage of 5-2. The MLS squad was physical and aggressive with their attack and held UA to just one scoring opportunity when forward Teal Bunbury took the ball from a defender and uncorked a medium-ranged shot over the net.
The UA defense handled the attack well, however, with freshman goal keeper David Meves keeping the Crew off the board with a pair of saves. Meves logged all 90 minutes between the pipes and finished with three saves in another strong effort by the highly-touted recruit.
While the Crew dictated the flow in the first half, Akron turned the tables following Tutich's header. In fact, the Zips out-shot Columbus, 6-5, in the second half and had a number opportunities to score but couldn't cash it, including a pair of key series midway through the period.
Bunbury, who led the Zips with five shots on the night, was involved in both. The first presented itself when midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who was exceptional on the ball all night, split a pair of defenders with a perfect ball to a streaking Bunbury, whose shot went wide.
Just a few minutes later, Crew 'keeper Ben Dragavon went to his right to deflect a blast from Bunbury only to have the ball settle in front of an open net. But Akron newcomer Yoram Mwila, who finished with a pair of shots on the evening, couldn't corral the ball before a Columbus defender kicked it out of bounds for an Akron corner.
For the second straight exhibition game, the Zips were forced to play without five key players. Freshman All-American Kofi Sarkodie, Chad Barson and Scott Caldwell are currently training with the U.S. Under-18 national team while veteran midfielders Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Michael Nanchoff were held out due to injuries.
In all, the Crew held a slight 10-8 edge in shots while drawing six corners to UA's three. Columbus also committed 15 fouls on the day, including the game's only yellow card, to Akron's seven.
Sunday's exhibition concluded an impressive spring season for the Zips, who finished with a 3-2-1 mark. In doing so, Akron posted wins over Oakland, Michigan and Wake Forest, while earning a tie at North Carolina.
2009 UA Men's Soccer Spring Results
Mar. 28 vs. Oakland, W, 2-0
Mar. 28 vs. Michigan, W, 4-0
Apr. 3 vs. Wake Forest, W, 3-0
Apr. 5 vs. North Carolina, T, 1-1
Apr. 18 vs. Indiana, L, 0-2
Apr. 26 vs. Columbus Crew, L, 0-1