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ryan schwepfinger

26 September 11:42 am

To those who follow the Crew (and maybe the New England Revolution), it's no secret: Federico Higuain is deadly when standing over the ball on a set piece near goal. Pipa's strike against the Revs on Saturday was his second such goal of 2014, and his second against New England after scoring from a very similar position in Foxborough earlier this season. Additionally, Higuaín scored on two free kicks against the Revolution on August 25, 2012. 

The Argentine currently ranks second in free-kick goals this season, trailing FC Dallas' Michel, who has three. The two players are the only two with more than one in 2014.

Despite ranking second this season, since Higuain's MLS debut, nobody has notched more free-kick goals. In fact, only eight players over that time period (since August 19, 2012) have recorded more than one free-kick tally:

Player Free-Kick Goals since 8/19/12
Federico Higuain 4
Camilo 3
Michel 3
Ramiro Corrales 2
Benny Feilhaber 2
Marvin Chavez 2
Juninho 2
Will Johnson 2

Over this span, Higuain also has registered 34 shots from a free kick, which bests New England's Lee Nguyen by four for the League lead in that time period as well.

26 September 10:11 am

Aaron Schoenfeld hasn't played for Dayton Dutch Lions FC since early July, but his impact while at the Crew's affiliate was so strong that earlier this week, the striker earned USL-PRO Second Team honors.

"The Big Celery" notched 12 goals in 18 USL-PRO appearances in 2014 before being called-up to Columbus. At the time of his recall, Schoenfeld was tied for the USL-PRO scoring lead.

Schoenfeld was the only Dutch Lion named to either of USL-PRO's all-league squads. With the Crew, the Knoxville, Tennessee native has recorded one goal and one assist in 2014.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

25 September 3:32 pm

With the club's final home match before a three-weekend road swing, three points at home against Montreal would go a long way toward a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs. That fact isn't lost on defender Eric Gehrig.

"We know it's an important game. It's another three points at home," said Gehrig. "We know that our games left at home in the regular season are numbered. It's our biggest game of the season."

Although Montreal is in last place in the Eastern Conference, the side has put together better results of late and Gehrig is not taking the Impact lightly: "To me, they're a really dangerous team."

Stay tuned for more of Gehrig's thoughts on the Impact match in this weekend's Black & Gold Breakdown, presented by Koorsen Fire and Security.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

23 September 2:44 pm

Ahead of the annual release of 24 Under 24, a ranking of the best players in the League under the age of 24, MLSsoccer.com's Andrew King profiled the Crew Homegrown Player.

The piece largely centers around Trapp's local ties and his affectionate nickname of "The Franchise." An excerpt:

"The Columbus Crew have had their share of legends.

But when Crew fans think of the biggest names who have come and gone for one of Major League Soccer’s founding franchises – Brian McBride, Jeff Cunningham, Frankie Hejduk, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto – there’s always been something missing.

McBride is from the Chicago suburbs, while Cunningham was born in Jamaica and grew up in Florida. Hejduk is California to the core and Schelotto spent most of his life in Argentina. None of the big names in the franchise’s rich history are from Columbus or even the state of Ohio, one of the great soccer hotbeds in the United States.

Wil Trapp is out to change that. He's a local kid from the Columbus surburbs and was something of an Ohio schoolboy soccer legend before he signed with the club in 2012. At 21, he still struggles to go grow hair on his face and carries around a somewhat diminutive 5-foot-8, 150-pound frame, but he’s already earned a fitting nickname inside the Crew locker room in just his second year on the team."

TheCrew.com will have more on Trapp later in the week, coinciding with the Thursday release of 24 Under 24.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

23 September 2:31 pm

While the three points that the Crew earned on Saturday against New England were enormous in the context of the MLS Cup Playoff race, many of the Black & Gold's closest rivals also earned positive results as well. As such, the Crew experienced little movement in the national Power Rankings, even though there is no question that it's playing its best soccer of the year at the right time.

See below for this week's ranks and last week's position:

MLSsoccer.com: 10 (10)

ESPNFC: 11 (11)

SI.com: 10 (11)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

16 September 2:53 pm

The Crew's 2-2 draw in Houston kept it relatively level in the weekly Power Rankings. With more huge intra-conference matches on tap, the Black & Gold have an opportunity to make a statement and climb the polls -- and more importantly, the Eastern Conference standings -- in the weeks to come.

See below for the Crew's rank as well as its previous position:

MLSsoccer.com: 10 (10)

ESPNFC: 11 (11)

SI.com: 11 (8)

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

15 September 4:25 pm

With Dayton's season coming to an end last week, the last Crew loanee active in USL-PRO this year was Wilmington's Brad Stuver. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, he and the Hammerheads fell in the first round of the 2014 USL-PRO Playoffs to Sacramento Republic FC by a 4-1 final. 

Stuver started and played all 90 minutes in the defeat, which was fueled by two goals from former Crew player Nemanja Vukovic.

All-told, the former Cleveland State Viking played the final 11 matches of Wilmington's season, compiling a 3-5-3 record with a 1.45 goals-against average. He also notched three clean sheets over the span, which came consecutively on August 30, September 3 and September 5. 

Photo Credit: USL-PRO

12 September 10:29 am

Sunday against Chivas USA, the Columbus Crew achieved a feat it had done just eight other times in club history: register three separate three-goal performances over a four-match span. Excluding overlaps, the club has only been on a stretch of this nature just four other times since its inaugural season in 1996.

Here is a table of every stretch where the Crew has bundled three separate three-goal performances over a four-match span in club history:

Date Opponent Goals Scored
1998
8/8/98 NE 6
8/12/98 @MET 1
8/16/98 KC 5
8/22/98 TB 3
8/29/98 @LA 3
9/6/98 MET 4
9/9/98 MIA 1
2001
8/1/01 CHI 3
8/4/01 @KC 3
8/11/01 @SJ 2
8/15/01 DAL 3
2002
7/31/02 @MET 3
8/10/02 @COL 1
8/14/02 LA 3
8/18/02 @KC 4
8/31/02 NE 0
9/7/02 @SJ 3
2009
7/18/09 RSL 3
7/25/09 TFC 3
8/1/09 @COL 1
8/8/09 @SJ 3
2014
8/16/14 LA 4
8/23/14 HOU 3
8/30/14 @MTL 0
9/7/14 CHV 3

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

09 September 11:18 am

 

The Crew's home victory over Chivas USA resulted in varying levels of movement across national Power Rankings. In fact, across the three weekly polls, the Crew rose in one, remained the same in one and dropped a spot in the other. Such is the reality of MLS parity and the League-wide movement. The bottom line: it was a successful week in Crewville, as the Black & Gold earned three points and remained above the MLS Cup Playoffs threshold.

See below for the rankings, with last week's position indicated afterward:

MLSsoccer.com: 10 (9)

ESPNFC: 11 (11)

SI.com: 8 (10)

Photo Credit: Daniel Herlensky

08 September 4:11 pm

Brad Stuver's run of strong play for the Wilmington Hammerheads continued over the previous week. Over three matches played, the Crew loanee went 1-1-1 in goal with two clean sheets and just two goals conceded over the span.

Stuver began yet another busy week by blanking Orlando City SC to the tune of a 0-0 draw on Wednesday, September 3. On Friday, September 5, the former Cleveland State Viking traveled to Dayton and faced his fellow Black & Gold loanees Matt Walker, Ross Friedman, Matt Wiet and Ben Sweat, who all started for the Dutch Lions in a 4-0 Hammerheads win. Stuver concluded the week by dropping a 2-0 decision to the Rochester Rhinos.

The match against Wilmington was the final contest of the season for Dayton, which finishes 2014 with a 6-18-4 record. As such, all Crew loanees have returned to training with the Black & Gold on a regular basis. Wilmington finished the regular season with a 9-8-11 record, qualifying for the playoffs as the number-seven seed. The club is set to face Sacramento Republic FC in the first round of the postseason.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images