Maybe Emilio Renteria just needed a change of scenery.
He's squandered a few opportunities in MLS play since joining the Crew on loan, but just two minutes after entering the match as a substitute against the Puerto Rico Islanders, the Venezuelan striker banged home a rebound for the goal that provided Columbus with a 1-1 tie and a spot in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
The tie gave the Crew (2-2-2) eight points in the standings and guaranteed it second place behind group winner Cruz Azul, which had already clinched a quarterfinal place yet still beat third-place Costa Rica's Saprissa, 2-1, to conclude group play. Even had Saprissa won to tie the Crew on points, Columbus would have advanced on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Islanders reached the CCL semifinals last year but were rooted to the bottom of Group C heading into their final match, which came more than two weeks after their league season had ended in the USL-1 semifinals with a loss to eventual champion Montreal. The Crew also fielded first-team attackers Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Alejandro Moreno and Eddie Gaven, as well as regular defensive starters Gino Padula, Eric Brunner and Frankie Hejduk.
Yet Puerto Rico took the lead late in the first half after a sluggish start by both teams. Cristian Arrieta flailed at and missed a ball headed on by teammate Noah Delgado, and Crew keeper Will Hesmer, caught off-balance, couldn't deflect the ball as it skipped through his legs.
Adam Moffat came on as a halftime sub and threatened the Islanders' goal twice, and Sean Fraser nearly doubled the Islanders' lead midway through the second half prior to Renteria's equalizer. Steven Lenhart, another sub, pounced on a turnover and drove toward the Puerto Rico goal to fire in a shot that onrushing keeper Justin Myers managed to block but couldn't control. Renteria easily converted the chance from outside the penalty area to give the Crew a positive result in its final group game.
Oct. 20 in Bayamon
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 Columbus Crew 1. Goals: Delgado 34; Renteria 74.
Puerto Rico -- Myers, Veris, Jones, Henry (Rivera, 89), Krause, Delgado, Arrieta (Villaroel, 88), Steele, Fraser (Nunez, 80), Hansen, Addlery.
Columbus -- Hesmer, Hejduk (Lenhart, 61), Iro, Brunner, Padula, Carroll, Burns (Moffat, 46), Ekpo (Renteria, 72), Gaven, Moreno, Schelotto,
Referee: Elmer Bonilla.