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ryan schwepfinger

02 September 1:03 pm

Brad Stuver had another productive week for Wilmington, going unbeaten and allowing just one goal over two matches for the Hammerheads. On Thursday, August 28 he helped Wilmington defeat Orlando City SC by a 3-1 final score. Two days later, he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Sacramento Republic FC. Stuver has now started seven matches for the Hammerheads, compiling a 1.43 goals-against average. The goalkeeper was also named to the league's Team of the Week for his efforts.

Elsewhere in USL-PRO, Crew loanee Ross Friedman returned for Dayton after missing two matches, starting and playing 40 minutes in a 7-0 loss to Orlando City SC. Matt Wiet also started for the Dutch Lions in the contest.

Photo Credit: Kirby Hines

27 August 11:12 am

After reviewing the tape from Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo, MLS confirmed that winger Ethan Finlay earned a secondary assist on Aaron Schoenfeld's goal. Finlay, quick in transition, played a pass to Waylon Francis, whose cross found Schoenfeld for a tally in the 64th minute.

The added assist gives Finlay six goals and five assists on the season, with each tally or helper coming during the winger's last 14 matches. Finlay has notched at least a goal or an assist in 10 of those 14 contests. The torrid stretch began on May 17 in Portland with the former Creighton Bluejay's first MLS goal. Against the LA Galaxy on August 16, Finlay registered his first career "multi-point" match, with one goal and one assist.

The 2012 MLS SuperDraft first-round selection ranks second on the Black & Gold in both goals and assists, trailing Federico Higuain in both categories.

26 August 1:36 pm

The Dutch Lions' backline had a decidedly Columbus feel to it last Saturday against the Colorado Rapids Reserves, as both Ben Sweat and Matt Wiet started and played the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 Dayton loss. It was Sweat's second consecutive match for the Dutch Lions. The Black & Gold's 2014 first-round MLS SuperDraft pick recorded one shot in the contest.

Elsewhere in USL-PRO, goalkeeper Brad Stuver played three matches over a five-day span for Wilmington Hammerheads FC. The Crew loanee started in goal against Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, August 20 and followed that up with starts at Orange County Blues FC on Saturday, August 23 and at LA Galaxy II  on Sunday, August 24. Stuver played every minute of the busy slate for the Hammerheads, earning a victory against Orange County and a draw vs. LA Galaxy II.

Photo Credit: Jeremi Blurton 

26 August 1:28 pm

The Crew's second-straight three-goal victory led to another strong showing in the weekly Power Rankings. The Black & Gold rose two additional spots in each of the three major national polls.

See below for this week's ranks with last week's position indicated afterward:

MLSsoccer.com: 8 (10)

ESPNFC: 10 (12)

SI.com: 9 (11)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

21 August 12:23 pm

Saturday's 4-1 triumph over the LA Galaxy perpetuated a positive statistic for the Columbus Crew: the club is unbeaten (5-0-3) when leading at halftime this season. In those eight matches, the Crew has scored 13 first-half goals and has notched exactly three shots on target per first half. Compare that to 1.3 shots on target per first half in the 16 matches that the Crew has been tied or trailing after the first 45 minutes, and you can see the importance of an early start. 

Beyond starting quickly, the statistic is also a testament to the Crew's ability to get results from positive positions. Consider Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter's opinion on the second half against LA:

"The second half was, to me, more of an exercise in counter-attacking. You saw it. We had guys running in the counter-attack. They switched to three in the back ... and it hurt them. There was a lot of open space."

When asked if he thinks his team's style lends itself well to burying teams that have to chase the game against the Crew, Berhalter said that he hopes so. The evidence supports it, and the Crew will be looking for more of the same against Houston on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

20 August 11:37 am

Writing ahead of the annual MLS "24 Under 24" series, Top Drawer Soccer's Will Parchman highlighed four such players who have caught his eye this season, one of whom was Crew midfielder Wil Trapp. Here's an excerpt of what Parchman had to say about the Homegrown Player.

"Wil Trapp has a higher ceiling than any player on this list, and I don’t stop shy of saying that. I think it’s a combination of his positional strides over the past year paired with his unbelievable calm in the midfield. The things he does at times don’t make any general kind of sense in the moment. It’s only when you rip out the machinery to see where he connected the solenoids that you understand how he did what he did. And even then, it doesn’t make sense."

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

19 August 3:09 pm

The Crew's 4-1 thrashing of the LA Galaxy was certainly a head-turning performance, and national outlets have started to notice. The Black & Gold made gigantic leaps forward in each of the major Power Rankings polls around the soccer world.

See below for the ranks, with last week's assessment indicated afterward:

MLSSoccer.com: 10 (14)

SI.com: 11 (16)

ESPNFC: 12 (14)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

18 August 12:16 pm

Making his first appearance for Dayton since June 1, Crew defender Ben Sweat started for the Dutch Lions on Saturday, August 16 in a 1-1 draw away to Richmond.

Crew loanees Matt Wiet and Matt Walker also each started in the contest, which featured an 80th-minute equalizer by Dayton's Shintaro Harada.

Sweat, who missed time in early July with a lumbar strain, returned to the pitch from injury on July 23 in the Crew's international friendly against Crystal Palace FC. 

Elsewhere in USL-PRO play, Brad Stuver started and played the full 90 minutes in goal on Friday, August 15 in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls Reserves.

Photo Credit: Greg Bartram

18 August 12:10 pm

Tonight at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the NASL's Carolina RailHawks are set to play a special exhibition match, serving as a fundraiser for the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund. 

Urso, who played collegiately at UNC and captained the Tar Heels to the 2011 NCAA Championship, was honored and remembered at the Crew's home match on August 9 against Toronto FC.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

15 August 11:05 am

Crew Brand Ambassador Frankie Hejduk's career intersected with Landon Donovan many times, from Bayer Leverkusen to the 2002 FIFA World Cup to Hejduk's late-career tenure with the LA Galaxy. The two also played together in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where Hejduk recalls one of his favorite Donovan stories.

"[Donovan] was always staying after," said Hejduk. "He was always hitting balls after training. Guys were always on the bus and he was always the last to come on. I was going, 'Man, who is this guy? Does he think he's a superstar?' So we started joking, 'Hey, Superstar! Come on, get on the bus!' It became a thing that Olympics where it was something that I had already foreseen that ended up happening, because he did become a superstar. That name stuck with him forever.

"At the beginning, he was like, 'No, you have to stop calling me that,' but it stuck and everyone would laugh about it. It became just a funny thing in that tournament, and we had a great tournament ... In that tournament, he did what he always does. He came in and scored goals, and you saw a glimpse of him being a superstar in that tournament. That was the first time that I saw a glimpse of him as a player, and I went, 'Wow, this kid's going to be something special.' It turns out that he did. I still to this day call him 'Superstar,' and I know that Gregg [Berhalter] calls him 'Superstar' too. It's stuck with him for all these years and he's deserved that name."