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.
Federico Higuain’s miss on Wednesday from the spot was his first of the season after an impressive 3-for-3 start to 2014. Higuain went 6-for-8 from the spot in 2013 and he had one shot saved -- May 4 against New York’s Luis Robles. He missed one as well, on July 7 against Portland’s Donovan Ricketts. While Higuain was not able to convert on Wednesday night, the Crew went on to find a goal from Ethan Finlay to level the match at 1-1.
Saturday’s meeting is the 59th regular-season meeting between the Crew and United dating back to 1996. The match at FedExField marks just the fourth-ever venue for a regular-season meeting between the two teams. That short list includes Ohio Stadium, D.C.’s RFK Stadium and the Crew’s current home, Columbus Crew Stadium.
Midfielder Ben Speas has recorded an assist in two consecutive matches, both during the busy stretch of three matches in eight days. Both of his assists have been in substitute appearances. Speas played just four minutes before adding a helper in Toronto on May 31 and on Wednesday night Speas was subbed on before the end of the first half and helped Ethan Finlay equalize late.
THE ROAD TO BRAZIL
The Crew’s match at D.C. United has been moved to FedExField as part of a Road to Brazil double-header ... Road to Brazil, a 10-day, seven-game tour featuring FIFA World Cup-bound nations, is set to take place across the United States just days prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup ... the Black & Gold road match – previously scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. ET kick that day at RFK Stadium – is now being held as the second match of the evening at FedExField in Landover, Md. following the conclusion of Spain versus El Salvador ... Road to Brazil is being organized by Major League Soccer’s commercial arm, Soccer United Marketing.
A THIRD SHOT AT UNITED
The Crew opened the Gregg Berhalter era with a 3-0 win over D.C. United on March 8 at RFK Stadium ... the away victory began the club’s three-match road unbeaten streak (2-0-1) ... the Crew found a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw on April 19 in the second meeting ... the 2014 regular-season series concludes this weekend.
SCORE FIRST AGAINST UNITED AND SUCCEED ...
Since the start of the 2009, the Crew has secured points in seven of the eight meetings between the Crew and United in which the Black & Gold have scored first ... overall, the Black & Gold are 7-4-2 in the last five seasons against United.
... BUT LATE-GAME MAGIC POSSIBLE IF D.C. SCORES FIRST
The Crew has had success when scoring first against United, but a Black-and-Red goal to open the scoring doesn’t necessarily mean a win for D.C ... Hector Jimenez’s 90th-minute goal gave the Crew a crucial point at home and secured the second batch of late-game Crew magic of 2014 when the teams last met on April 14.
Steve Clark nearly saved the penalty kick attempt against Toronto FC on Saturday that tied the match at 1-1 in the first half. Saturday marked the first time in 2014 -- in match number 13 -- that an opponent of the Black & Gold has earned a penalty kick. The Crew has taken and converted four penalty kicks in 2014 with Federico Higuain scoring three times and Jairo Arrieta adding another. Last season, the Crew went 17 matches before allowing a penalty kick as the LA Galaxy struck twice from the spot on July 4, 2013.
Agustin Viana scored his first goal in his MLS career last Saturday in Toronto. Viana became the seventh Crew player to record a tally in 2014 as he was able to get a head on a Ben Speas corner kick. Viana now has 22 career appearances with the Black & Gold.
Tony Tchani was able to avoid a fifth yellow card last Saturday in Toronto. Because of this, Tchani -- who had four yellows and went three matches without one -- was able to take advantage of the League’s “Good Behavior” clause and had one yellow card expunged. He’s now down to three yellow cards. If Wil Trapp can avoid a yellow in his next appearance, he too will be bumped down to a trio of cautions, but presently enters the week with four.
STRONG TRENDS AGAINST REAL SALT LAKE
The Crew returns home for a test against Real Salt Lake ... despite the loss against Real Salt Lake last year, the Crew has won three of its last four contests against the Utah side ... the Crew is 7-1-0 against RSL at home and has won its last six regular-season clashes between the clubs at Crew Stadium.
MIDFIELD DEPTH SHOWN IN TORONTO
Four Crew players that did not play on May 24 against Chicago featured in the match at Toronto FC last weekend ... two Crew players made their 2014 debut on Saturday in Toronto: Ben Speas earned an assist on his first appearance of the year while Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden made his Crew -- and MLS -- debuts in a substitute appearance ... Daniel Paladini made his first start of the season in the place of Federico Higuain ... Agustin Viana made his second start of the season with Wil Trapp out last Saturday in Toronto.
A SECOND FOR JUSTIN
For the second time this season, Justin Meram has scored a well-placed curling shot to the upper 90 for a Crew goal ... his second tally of the year came in Toronto to open the scoring in the match before he revealed a special note on his undershirt, honoring his Uncle Neil, who suddenly passed away recently ... earlier this season, Meram delivered the game-winning strike in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the Crew a 2-1 win in Seattle on March 29.
RE-GROUPING BEFORE WEDNESDAY
The Crew looks to rebound following a tough 3-2 loss in Toronto last Saturday ... defender Josh Williams was quick to point out on Saturday that the club can re-focus ahead of Wednesday’s match: “It’s not one guy, I think the defense as a whole needs to get together and regroup. We’ve got a game Wednesday at home, and I know a lot of supporters will be there, so we’ve got to forget this, put it behind us, come out and be ready Wednesday to get three points.”
ANOTHER LEG OF TRILLIUM CUP PRESENTED BY SCOTTS ...
The Crew and Toronto FC battle on Saturday for the second of three meetings in 2014 to decide the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts ... Toronto secured a 2-0 victory at Crew Stadium in April in the first match of the regular-season series ... Trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario and the state wildflower of Ohio and Scotts joined as the presenting sponsor of the award ahead of the 2013 series ... the trophy was first awarded in 2008.
... AND THE CUP IS ON THE LINE
Following Toronto FC’s 2-0 victory over the Crew on April 5, the Crew heads to Toronto in need of a result to keep its Trillium Cup chances alive in 2014 ... a victory for Toronto would capture the trophy even with an August 9 meeting still on the schedule ... the Crew has secured the Trillium Cup five times ... 2008 marked the first year
the award was up for grabs and the Crew held the trophy from 2008-2010 before a Toronto regular-season series victory gave the Reds the Cup for 2011 - Toronto’s only Trillium Cup victory ... the Crew regained the award in 2012 with three victoies over Toronto and retained it in 2013 with a 2-1-0 record against the Reds.
FIRST TRIP NORTH OF THE BORDER IN 2014, 15th OVERALL FOR CLUB
Saturday’s trip to Toronto is the Crew’s first of two trips to Canada in 2014 and 15th overall regular-season match north of the border ... although the Black & Gold fell to Toronto on July 27, 2013, the Crew has secured points in 11 of the 14 previous meetings up North and is 5-3-6 in those Canadian-hosted matches ... Columbus is 3-1-5 in nine matches at Toronto FC, has a 1-1-0 record at Vancouver and is 1-1-1 in Montreal ... additional Ohio ties to Canada include Assistant Coach Pat Onstad ... Onstad’s extensive Canadian ties are available on his bio at TheCrew.com.
BACK AT TFC & LOOKING TO RETURN TO BMO FIELD WINNING WAYS
The Crew suffered its first loss in Toronto on its last trip to BMO Field and looks to rebound in 2014 ... the Black & Gold are 3-1-5 in their first nine visits to BMO Field in Toronto dating back to 2007.
PIPA LOVES THE REDS BUT IS OUT SATURDAY
Toronto FC gets a break from Federico Higuain this weekend while the Argentine serves a one-match suspension for yellow-card accumulation ... Higuain has been lethal against Toronto and has recorded five goals and two assists in just six meetings with Toronto FC ... he recorded a two-goal performance on August 18, 2013, assisted Dominic Oduro on the game-winning goal on May 18, 2013 and the Crew playmaker recorded a brace in the final meeting between the two teams in 2012 on October 28 ... Pipa has been quite efficient against the Reds, as he’s scored all five goals on just seven shots on goal in 525 minutes.
Since 1998, 17 players have suited-up for both the Crew and the Fire in their careers. The list includes current Crew players Dominic Oduro and Daniel Paladini as well as: Brian McBride, Ante Razov, Jon Busch, Dilly Duka, Matt Chulis, Leonard Griffin, Andy Herron, Richie Kotschau, Manny Lagos, Brian Plotkin (never played for Crew but was rostered), Tony Sanneh, Tim Ward, Andy Williams and John Wolyniec.
Ethan Finlay recorded his first career tally last weekend at Portland in his 41st career match. The midfielder became the sixth player to record a tally for the Black & Gold in 2014. Finlay, Hector Jimenez and Justin Meram each have a goal while Bernardo Anor and Jairo Arrieta (two goals each) trail team-leader Federico Higuain, who has six tallies to his name.
Veteran Tyson Wahl’s next start is a historic one for the ninth-year defender. After starting last weekend in Portland, Wahl is one start shy from his 100th career start since joining MLS with Kansas City in 2006. He has logged more than 9,000 minutes during his career.
HOME SWEET HOME
Saturday’s match marks the Crew’s fifth contest of May and just the second this month at Crew Stadium ... the team snapped a three-match losing streak last Saturday at Portland with a 3-3 draw ... the Black & Gold have a final road match of May at Toronto FC on May 31.
FINDING THE BACK OF THE NET
After being held scoreless for three matches to open the month, the Crew responded with a trio of tallies last Saturday in Portland ... it was the club’s second three-goal performance of the season ... the Black & Gold have secured points in both three-goal matches thus far in 2014 after a 3-0 win to open the year at D.C. United.
STARTING A NEW STREAK AGAINST THE FIRE
The Crew’s 3-0 win against Chicago when the two teams last met on September 2013 snapped a four-match losing streak against the Fire ... although Chicago has had the Crew’s number in six of the last eight overall regular-season meetings (6-2-0), the Black & Gold have been solid at home against their rivals, securing points in five of the last seven meetings at Crew Stadium (3-2-2) dating back to 2008 ... Chicago has been held to one goal or fewer in four of the last five meetings at Crew Stadium dating back to 2010.
LOTS OF ONE-GOAL GAMES CREW-FIRE TILTS OF LATE
Seven of the last eight regular-season meetings between the longtime rivals have resulted in one-goal matches, providing plenty of drama in regular-season play ... Chicago is 6-2-0 in the current span, with the Black & Gold securting a 2-1 win on May 26, 2012 at Crew Stadium and the lone multiple-goal margin, a 3-0 win when the teams last met on September 21, 2013 in Columbus.
BACK ON THE ROAD
Saturday’s match marks the Crew’s fourth match of May and third away from Crew Stadium ... the team is looking to snap a three-match losing streak and return to winning ways on the road ... the Crew is 2-2-1 in road tilts in 2014 and is unbeaten (1-0-1) when leading at halftime of those matches ... the Black & Gold return home for a May 24 clash against Chicago before a final road match of May at Toronto FC on May 31.
GREAT HONOR FOR THE CREW ...
The Columbus Crew announced on Monday that three players have been named to 30-man preliminary rosters ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including club captain Michael Parkhurst (United States Men’s National Team) as well as defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis (Costa Rican National Team) ... forward Jairo Arrieta has also been named as an alternate for Costa Rica’s provisional roster ... “We are proud of our players as they prepare to represent the Columbus Crew in their respective National Team camps,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “The possibility of representing your nation in the FIFA World Cup is our sport’s highest honor, and we’re thrilled for our players that now have this opportunity. We wish them every success ahead of this summer’s tournament.”
... BUT LINEUP CHANGES REQUIRED FOLLOWING DEPARTURES
Michael Parkhurst (United States) and Waylon Francis (Costa Rica) have departed for National Team camp for their respective countries, with Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica) set to leave after this weekend’s match ... therefore, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has two spots to fill on the backline this weekend.
ADDITIONAL REINFORCEMENTS AVAILABLE
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has several options to replace Waylon Francis and Michael Parkhurst on the backline this weekend ... in addition to veteran depth, the Crew recalled Kevan George and Ben Sweat from loan at USL-PRO affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions ... Sweat was on a game-by-game loan and started two matches while George had been with Dayton since March, earning significant playing experience.
Matching his season-high for corner kicks with eight on Wednesday in Houston, Federico Higuain recorded his 200th corner as a member of the Crew. Currently at 203 in 51 career games played, Higuain became just the third player in Crew history to record 200 or more corner kicks. Robert Warzycha is the club’s all-time leader with 503 and Guillermo Barros Schelotto is in second with 423. Both players are finalists for the Crew’s 2014 Circle of Honor Induction. Higuain recorded eight corner kicks in a match earlier this season on March 29 at Seattle.
Saturday’s match-up is the first meeting for first-year MLS coaches Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and Vancouver Head Coach Carl Robinson. As players, Berhalter -- who played for LA from 2009-2011 -- was an MLS opponent of Robinson, who spent 2009-2011 between Toronto FC (2009) and New York (2010-11).
The Crew has played Vancouver just four times in the regular-season since Whitecaps FC joined MLS ahead of the 2011 campaign. Now playing just once a year, the Crew gets its only look at Vancouver for the season on Saturday. Hector Jimenez -- who previously played for Western Conference side LA Galaxy -- has plenty of experience against Vancouver. In fact, Jimenez has six appearances against Whitecaps FC, two more matches than the Crew has ever played against the Canadian side.