Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis were welcomed back to Crew Stadium on Wednesday night following their run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Columbus crowd gave them an ovation before kickoff, as many fans saw the Costa Rican duo on the world’s stage. Americans made up a full 20% of all the traffic to the FIFA official apps and Web sites. Over the tournament, 36.7 million unique visitors from the United States have visited FIFA.com or the FIFA app. That’s about 11.28% of the U.S. population.
The Black & Gold return to action on Saturday, seeking a critical home win against the Montreal Impact. The Crew does have recent history to its advantage this weekend. Montreal is currently 0-5-3 on the road in 2014 and has yet to secure a victory away from Stade Saputo. The Crew is also 3-0-0 in the three previous meetings between the Black & Gold and the Impact at Crew Stadium.
The 75th-minute mark in matches between the Crew and Montreal has led to fascinatng action in regular-season play dating back to 2012. In the most recent meeting on September 14, 2013, Federico Higuain added his second assist of the contest – and team-best eighth of the season – on Dominic Oduro’s match-winner in the 78th minute. Both meetings in 2012 featured game-winning goals in the 89th-minute or later as Patrice Bernier’s 89th-minute PK secured the 2-1 win for Montreal on July 8 while Emilio Renteria’s 93rd-minute goal gave the Crew a 2-1 win on Sept. 1, 2012. Just outside the parameter, Dominic Oduro also snagged a 72nd-minute equalizer to give the Black & Gold a draw in a 1-1 clash on April 14, 2013 in Montreal.
BERHALTER ON A TOUGH LOSS WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Following the club’s 2-1 defeat on Wednesday at home, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter spoke to the media on the turnaround needed ahead of Saturday ... said Berhalter: “We’re not victims in this whole thing. The way we perform we didn’t deserve to win that game and it wasn’t a pretty soccer game all around. The whole thing wasn’t pretty. Our job is to come out here and entertain the fans and play attractive soccer and we didn’t do that we didn’t live up to our end of the bargain tonight. It was hesitancy, it was guys not moving and it’s too bad because especially when they got the red card we could have gotten more out of that and we didn’t.”
FRANCIS, GONZALEZ RETURNED
Crew defenders Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez represented the Crew in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and returned on Wednesday with a start after meeting the team in New York last weekend ... Gonzalez started and played in every single match for The Ticos ... Gonzalez also added successful spot kicks during penalty kicks on June 29 as Costa Rica advanced past Greece and in the team’s final match against the Netherlands on July 5 in the Quarterfinals.
LAST EIGHT HAVE BEEN STRONG FOR FINLAY
With his assist on Adam Bedell’s goal in New York on July 12, Ethan Finlay has scored a goal or an assist in six of the last eight League matches he’s played in dating back to May 17 at Portland ... Finlay scored his first career tally in Oregon before returning home for a second goal against Chicago on May 24 ... on May 31 in Toronto, Finlay added an assist on Justin Meram’s tally to open the scoring before scoring on June 4... the Crew was held scoreless in the 0-0 draw on June 7 and Finlay missed action on June 29 ... he returned with the team’s lone goal in the 1-1 draw at Colorado on July 4 ... the Crew earned an own goal on Wednesday night against Sporting KC in just the second match in eight League contests Finlay has played in of late in which he did not record a goal or an assist.
The Crew enters the week looking at a three-match homestand with a pair of League tilts on Wednesday and Saturday. The Black & Gold are unbeaten (1-0-2) in their last three contests at Crew Stadium dating back to May 24 against Chicago. In the current home unbeaten span, the team is averaging 13.33 shots per game.
Since 2006, Columbus and Sporting Kansas City have traded off streaks of at least five consecutive matches of success for one club in the all-time regular-season series. The Crew dropped five straight matches from 2006-2007 before the Black & Gold rattled-off a six match (5-0-1) stretch of points against the Kansas City side from 2008 to 2010. With Sporting KC now 4-0-1 in their last five matches against the Crew since 2012, the historical tides are due for a shift for the better in Columbus against Sporting.
For the second straight week, the Crew faces one of the League’s top goal scorers in its upcoming match. Last weekend, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his League-leading 15th of the season. On Wednesday, Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer comes to Columbus with the Crew looking to keep his season total at 14 tallies.
MOVING FORWARD AFTER LOSS AT NEW YORK
Following the club’s 4-1 defeat on Saturday in New York, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter remained positive in providing a course of action heading into a stretch of four matches in 11 days, beginning Wednesday ... said Berhalter, “We got to pick ourselves up, right? We got to pick ourselves up and move on. Put this game behind us. It’s over as of now and we’re moving forward. I think the message to the guys is ‘Let’s not talk about it, let’s do it.’”
FRANCIS, GONZALEZ AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION
Crew defenders Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez represented the Crew in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and are now available for selection this week after meeting the team in New York last weekend ... Gonzalez started and played in every single match for The Ticos ... Gonzalez also added successful spot kicks during penalty kicks on June 29 as Costa Rica advanced past Greece and in the team’s final match against the Netherlands on July 5 in the Quarterfinals ... Gonzalez last played MLS action on May 17 at Portland while Francis departed ahead of that trip and last took the field in League play on May 10 against Portland.
BEDELL BAGS HIS FIRST
Adam Bedell came on as a substitute and provided the Crew’s lone goal on Saturday night in New York ... the tally was Bedell’s first career strike in his rookie campaign ... per MLS, he also becomes the tallest player (6 feet, 7 inches) to score a goal in MLS history.
FOLLOWING ARRIETA INJURY, BERHALTER TURNED TO BEDELL
Needing to make an early substitution due to a Jairo Arrieta leg injury, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter turned to forward Adam Bedell in the 25th minute ... Bedell went on to score his first career goal 14 minutes later ... said Berhalter, “I think it’s great that he got off the mark and he got a goal. He’s a good finisher. We need to keep creating opportunities for him because he can finish.”
The Crew heads to Red Bull Arena for the first of two meetings at the home of the Red Bulls in 2014. The Crew is 1-1-2 in its previous four meetings in the venue, but has secured points in three of the four meetings, including a victory in the team’s first visit to the building that opened in 2010. Those results have helped improve the Crew’s overall road record against New York, which stands at 9-14-5. Despite the historical struggle on New Jersey soil, the clubs remain almost deadlocked in regular-season action all-time, with the Crew currently 24-25-9 against New York.
The Crew has played to four consecutive draws dating back to June 4 against Real Salt Lake. The streak matches a previous Black & Gold record for consecutive draws (four) from the 2006 season. That year, the team played to consecutive 1-1 draws at home against New England (June 21) and Chivas USA (June 24) before a pair of road draws: 0-0 at New York (June 28) before a 1-1 tilt at Houston (July 4). Both stretches -- the 2006 string of matches and the current one -- began in June and involved a 1-1 Fourth of July draw.
Midfielder Tony Tchani has started each of the team’s first 17 matches through the midway point of the year. His 1,502 minutes are fast approaching a career high (1,610) that was set in his rookie season with Saturday’s opponent, the New York Red Bulls, in 2010. As a rookie, Tchani made 27 appearances and 17 starts. His 17 starts this year have already trumped his 13 starts for the Crew in 2013 and he is on pace to reach the 20 appearance mark for the third consecutive year in Black & Gold.
CREW ENTERS WEEK WITH FOUR-MATCH UNBEATEN STREAK
Following last Friday’s 1-1 draw in Colorado, the Crew enters this week riding a four-match unbeaten streak dating back to June 4 against Real Salt Lake ... in that time, the team has played to four consecutive draws in MLS action ... the team has never had a five-match streak of consecutive draws in club history.
BACK TO NEW JERSEY
Saturday’s match is a homecoming trip to New Jersey for Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, who grew up in the Garden State ... the Englewood native took to the field in his home state as a player on two occassions in regular-season MLS action ... in 2009, he played with the Galaxy at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford and then played at Red Bull Arena in its first year of matches in 2010.
... FRANCIS, GONZALEZ TO MEET TEAM ON THE ROAD THIS WEEKEND
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter told the press on Tuesday that Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis plan to meet the team out East following Costa Rican celebrations for the team’s success in the 2014 FIFA World Cup ... Gonzalez last played MLS action on May 17 at Portland while Francis departed ahead of that trip and last took the field in League play on May 10 against Portland.
HIGUAIN’S 2013 AGAINST NEW YORK
Federico Higuain scored three goals in three total games against New York in 2013 ... his 74th-minute penalty kick was critical in the 2-2 draw at Red Bull Arena on May 26 and his brace in the last meeting between the two teams in 2013 included one of his most memorable goals in a Crew uniform, chipping goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The Crew -- and goalkeeper Steve Clark -- allowed just one goal in regular-season MLS action in the month of June. Following the 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on June 4, the Crew has held its opponents scoreless for two consecutive matches entering July.
Columbus is 2-5-3 all-time on Independence Day. The last 4th of July win for the Black & Gold was back in 2001 against LA in the Rose Bowl before a crowd of 52,634.
The deadline to vote for eight Crew players are eligible for selection for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game is approaching (July 11). Crew players eligible include: Bernardo Anor, Jairo Arrieta, Steve Clark, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Federico Higuain, Michael Parkhurst, Wil Trapp and Josh Williams ... fans can vote online at MLSsoccer.com for their Fan XI until July 11, selecting one goalkeeper and 10 field players from the ballot ... fans can also utilize the AT&T / EA SPORTS “More than a Vote” Challenge and vote for a favorite forward by scoring goals with them in EA SPORTS FIFA 14 with one goal equaling one vote ... the All-Star Fan XI is set to be revealed during the ESPN2 broadcast of Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls on July 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET ... the gameday roster, chosen by All-Star head coach Caleb Porter, is set to be announced at a later date.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA
The Black & Gold will play their 11th Fourth of July contest in club history when they take on the Rapids ... this is the second consecutive year with an Independence Day showdown ... prior to 2013, the Crew had not played on the Fourth since 2009.
OTHER INDEPENDENCE DAY SHOWDOWNS
After a tough 2-1 loss last year on July 4 at LA, the Crew looks to continue its recent stretch of securing points on Independence Day ... the Crew has earned a point in three of the last four meetings, including a three-match unbeaten streak (0-0-3) on Independence Day that began in 2006 (1-1 at Houston) and continued in 2007 (0-0 at Colorado) before the 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium five seasons ago.
LAST FOURTH IN COLORADO
The Crew played Colorado on Independence Day in 2007 and played to a 0-0 draw ... it was the first July 4th contest at the new Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and it was the first scoreless League match at the venue according to ColoradoRapids.com ... in 1999, the Crew played on July 4th in Colorado before another huge crowd (51,025), winning 3-0.
The Crew’s next regular-season win at home is victory number 150 in Columbus dating back to 1996. Of those 149 wins, 119 of them have come in regular-season meetings at Crew Stadium dating back to 1999. The Crew’s 149 home victories are sixth-best in MLS. Only five other MLS teams have secured 150 home wins in their club’s history, including LA (169), Kansas City (153), FC Dallas (152), D.C. United (152) and Colorado (150). It’s noteworthy to mention the Crew is currently just four regular-season home victories behind the second-place team on this list.
Through the first 15 matches of 2014, three Crew players have appeared in each contest for Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter: Steve Clark, Justin Meram and Tony Tchani. Clark has played every single minute in net for the Black & Gold. Tchani has started all 15 matches and has played all but 18 minutes this year. Justin Meram has 15 appearances and five starts, posting two goals and one assist in 604 minutes.
Michael Parkhurst has not faced FC Dallas since 2008. The Crew Captain, who played with New England from 2005-2008 before going overseas, suprisingly, still leads the current Crew roster in all-time, regular-season appearances against FC Dallas with eight. Former Western Conference players Tyson Wahl and Hector Jimenez have played the Hoops four times each in their regular-season careers.
BACK ON THE MLS GRIND ...
The Crew resumes MLS action for League contest number 16 in 2014 as the Black & Gold return with a 4-5-6 record ... after Saturday’s tilt against FC Dallas, the Crew has several pairs of grouped home and road matches to begin the middle of summer ... following back-to-back road contests at Colorado (July 4) and New York (July 12), the team is home for a stretch of three home matches in eight days, including League matches against Sporting KC (July 16) and Montreal (July 19) before an international friendly against Crystal Palace (July 23).
... BUT THE FIFA WORLD CUP BREAK WAS BUSY FOR CREW
The Crew’s last League match was June 7 at FedExField in a 0-0 result against D.C. United ... after getting a bit of rest, the team played two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches during the most recent 2014 FIFA World Cup break ... after playing 120 minutes on June 17 against North American Soccer League side Indy Eleven, the team again saw an extra-time match on Wednesday night in Chicago.
STRONG TRENDS AGAINST FC DALLAS
The Crew welcomes FC Dallas to Columbus on Saturday as the Black & Gold look to continue its recent success against the Hoops ... since falling in both 2007 League matches, the Crew has secured points in eight out of its last 10 matches against FC Dallas dating back to August 16, 2008 ... the Crew has won its last two matches against the Hoops and within this current 10-match trend, the Black & Gold put together a four-match unbeaten streak (2-0-2) from August 2009 through April 2011.