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Hesmer's 11 saves give Crew 0-0 tie with FireHesmer's 11 saves give Crew 0-0 tie with Fire

Jul 12, 2009 - 4:00 AM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (STATS) - Last season, William Hesmer emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. A pair of injuries sidelined him for the majority of 2009, but consecutive career-high performances appear to have him back on track.

Hesmer made a career-high 11 saves to help the Columbus Crew to a scoreless tie with the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at Toyota Park.

That performance came one week after he had a personal-best 10 in a 1-all tie with D.C. - his second game since knee and back injuries sidelined him for nine.

On Saturday, Hesmer was one save shy of tying the team record held by Brad Friedel (1996), Mark Dougherty (1999) and current Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch (2004).

"The past two weeks I've been a lot busier," said Hesmer after posting his second shutout of the season. That's why I'm back there. I'm back there to make the saves. I feel the more games I'm back from injury, I'm starting to feel sharper and sharper."

Hesmer was a finalist for the MLS goalkeeper of the year award in 2008, losing out to Busch despite going 17-6-6 with a 1.14 goals-against average, leading the league in victories and earning a callup to the U.S. national team camp.

"He has all the tools to be a very good goalkeeper," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said of the 27-year-old goalkeeper. "He's young and he's going to develop."

In the 25th minute, Hesmer made three saves in rapid succession. First, he stopped a point-blank attempt by Fire midfielder Marco Pappa along the end line and followed that by tipping away Brian McBride's header towards the top left corner.

Hesmer then deflected an attempted Olympic goal by Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who came up empty on six shots - four on goal.

"He really likes that near-post hole," Hesmer said of Blanco's try off a corner kick. "He wants to drop a ball right in front. I was cheating there and he probably saw it. He put one up in the far upper post, and all you can do is get a touch to it, smile and say, 'Don't do that again.'"

Busch made four saves for Chicago (6-3-7), which moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Columbus (5-3-9) and idle D.C. United.

The tie extended the Fire's home winless streak to a team-record six games (0-2-4) since a 1-0 win against New York on April 5.

"Definitely there's a frustration because you want to come back and give your fans something they deserve," Fire defender C.J. Brown said. "When we're in our huddle before the game we're saying that.

"But when you look at this game, you didn't allow any goals, you created a few chances and the effort was better than most games. It's a move in the right direction.

Chicago wasted a key opportunity in the 63rd minute when Blanco missed an open net by hitting a shot too high after the ball fell to him following Hesmer's point-blank save on Chris Rolfe.

Busch got some help during injury time of the first half when Guillermo Barros Schelotto's header hit the left post.