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.
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.”