A CHANCE FOR ROAD TRIP HISTORY
The Crew heads back on the road looking to improve upon its hot start away from Crew Stadium in 2014 (2-0-0) ... the Black & Gold are looking to accomplish something not done in club history before -- win the first three road matches of the year ... the team has gone unbeaten on the first trio of road trips to open a campaign before -- going 2-0-1 in 2003 and 2-0-3 through the first five away contests in 2010 -- but a win in San Jose Sunday would make club history for a perfect three road matches.
WHAT A ROAD WIN COULD ALSO MEAN
While the Crew could make early-season history Sunday should it win on the road, a win also gives three consecutive road victories for the first time since 2007 ... during that season, the Black & Gold defeated Toronto FC 2-1 (September 22), New England 3-2 (October 13) and DC United 3-2 (October 20) ... the 2007 Columbus Crew finished 9-11-10 (37 points) and sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
LEARNING FROM A LOSS
The Black & Gold look to rebound from a 2-0 loss last Saturday against Toronto FC ... Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter addressed the best way a team can learn, telling local reporters, “No, you never need a loss [to learn] ... we always want to win. I honestly believe it’s better to learn from wins. I’m disappointed that we lost. Toronto played a great game and executed their game plan perfectly, but I’m still disappointed that we lost, no question.”
HIGUAIN CREEPING UP THE CHARTS
Federico Higuain is one goal away from moving up the Crew’s all-time top 10 goal- scoring list ... in just 46 career regular-season matches, he currently has 19 goals as a member of the Crew and sits in a three-way tie for 10th place alongside Robert Warzycha and Pete Marino (19 goals) ... his next goal moves him move him into a tie for ninth place with Alejandro Moreno (20 goals) ... Higuain will have to score five more goals this season to take over eighth place, which is held by Brian Maisonneuve (23 goals).
Saturday’s victory over Seattle marked the Crew’s second victory in a one-goal contest in 2014 after defeating Philadelphia by the same score on March 22. In 2013, the Crew was 4-10-0 in one-goal contests.
The 2-1 win at Seattle marked the final match of the month of March as the Crew opened the season 3-0-0. Last season, the Crew went a perfect 3-0-0 in the month of September. In the club’s inaugural season of 1996, the Crew went a perfect 6-0-0 in the month of August in a time before draws in MLS. It would be eight seasons before the Crew posted a month of perfect soccer (no losses or draws) in a calendar month with three or more regular-season matches played. In 2004, the Crew was 4-0-0 in August. The team had several unbeaten months with draws from 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 before last season’s perfect month.
Justin Meram’s game-winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time was nominated for AT&T Goal of the Week. It is the second time this season through three games that the Crew has had a tally nominated for the award following Bernardo Anor’s nomina- tion in the 2-1 win over Philadelphia. Last year, the Crew had a nominee in Week 1 against Chivas USA (Higuain, 51st minute) and it wasn’t until Week 7 that the Crew was again among the finalists for Dominic Oduro’s 72nd-minute goal at Montreal.
BACK HOME IN TEST AGAINST TORONTO
The Black & Gold return home for their second home match of 2014 after opening the season with a pair of victories away from Crew Stadium ... the Crew is looking for wins in its first two home matches to open the year for the first time since 2010 when the club went 4-0-0 at Crew Stadium to begin the campaign ... in the three years since, the Crew went 3-0-1, (2011), 1-2-1 (2012) and 1-1-2 (2013) through its first four contests at home.
TIME FOR TRILLIUM CUP
The Crew and Toronto FC battle on Saturday for the first of three meetings in 2014 to decide the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts ... 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 ... 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.
PIPA AND THE REDS
Federico Higuain has recorded five goals and two assists in just five 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 435 minutes.
Saturday’s two-goal performance for Bernardo Anor marked the second time in his career that he took home MLS Player of the Week honors. The first time, on June 18, 2011, in his very first start for the Black & Gold, the rookie Anor helped his side to a 2-0 road win against the Houston Dynamo. The midfielder picked up his first career goal and assist en route to the League’s weekly honor.
On the last trip to Seattle, Justin Meram and Emilio Renteria scored on either side of halftime as the Crew defeated Seattle Sounders FC 2-0 at CenturyLink Field on May 23, 2012. In the win, the club’s first in Seattle, Andy Gruenebaum made six saves in the shutout win and faced 21 Seattle shots in the effort.
Federico Higuain recorded his first assist of the season on his corner kick that Bernardo Anor drove home with a header on March 22. Higuain now has 18 goals and 17 assists in 44 career games.
BACK ON THE ROAD
For the second time in three matches, the Crew takes to the road for an early-season test ... the Black & Gold are looking for their first back-to-back road wins since 2010 when an four-day span in May saw wins at New York (May 20) and Kansas City (May 23).
LOOKING FOR HISTORIC HOT START AWAY FROM HOME
Following the 3-0 win at D.C. United in the first away match of 2014, the Crew has a chance on Saturday to accomplish something the team has been unable to do in more than 10 years: win its first two road games of a campaign ... the last time the club won its first two tilts away from Crew Stadium was in 2003 with April wins at New York (April 12) and at New England (April 19).
STOPPING BY SIGI’S HOUSE...
Saturday marks another match against former Crew boss Sigi Schmid and the man that helped lead the Crew to its first MLS Cup victory in 2008 ... Schmid held a record of 44-33-25 in three seasons in Columbus from 2006-2008.
... AND FAMILIAR FACES IN MARSHALL, EVANS
Saturday marks the first time that Chad Marshall faces his former club ... last December, the Crew traded Marshall to Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for allocation money and a 2015 Third Round SuperDraft selection ... Marshall played in more minutes (22,220), matches (253) and seasons (10) than anyone else in the Black & Gold's 19-year history ... Brad Evans also began his MLS career with the Crew and following his rookie season in 2007, his 26 appearances and five goals helped the Crew to a 2008 MLS Cup title run ... Evans, however, has seen his former club since joining Seattle in 2009.
SHARP PASSES, SMART PASSES OVERALL ...
Through a pair of matches in 2014, the Crew leads MLS in passing accuracy ... Saturday’s opponent -- Seattle -- sits just behind the Crew in sixth among the top third of MLS ... a full breakdown of Opta statistics is below:
Team ............................................... Passing Accuracy
Columbus Crew .............................. 82.94
LA Galaxy ........................................ 80.82
Philadelphia Union ........................ 79.66
Real Salt Lake .................................. 79.33
New York Red Bulls........................ 79.09
Seattle Sounders FC ....................... 78.89
Federico Higuain is just shy of joining the club’s top 10 list for all-time goals scored. At 18 tallies, he is in 11th place, one goal shy of a two-way tie for 10th place with Pete Marino and Robert Warzycha, who each scored 19 goals in a Crew uniform. Jeff Cunningham leads that Black & Gold list with 64.
Josh Williams is the longest-tenured Crew player on the roster dating back to just 2010. He’s made 58 apperances for the Crew. The club is not without MLS veteran presence, though. Michael Parkhurst has 116 career MLS appearances in the regular season, Dominic Oduro has 217 since 2006 and Tyson Wahl has made 112 appearances since joining MLS in 2006 in Kansas City.
The 3-0 shutout victory at D.C. United on March 8 was Steve Clark’s first clean- sheet win since coming to the League in the offseason following time in Norway. By recording a single shutout, Clark is now tied for 12th on the club’s all-time goalkeeper shutouts list with three other ‘keepers that had a Crew clean sheet in their time in Black & Gold.
Saturday’s Opening Match at Crew Stadium is regular-season match number 233 in the tenureof the historic building. The Black & Gold are 117-61-54 all-time, have scored 353 regular-season goals in front of their fans and have seen 21,076 minutes of regular- season intensity backed by the best fans in MLS since the first Crew Stadium match in 1999.
A WIN WOULD MAKE RARE CREW HISTORY ...
A win on Saturday would make for an odd statistical Crew record not achieved in the club’s first 18 years of existence ... the Black & Gold have never opened the season with back-to-back wins ... opening with consecutive victories may be a rare feat, but opening the season unbeaten after two games is not ... most recently in 2010, the club rattled off an eight-game clip of unbeaten soccer, posting an 6-0-2 run through the third week of May.
... BUT TAKE IT ONE GAME AT A TIME
The Crew opened the Gregg Berhalter era with a victory in Gregg Berhalter’s MLS coaching debut ... the Sporting Director and Head Coach began his MLS coaching career after coaching at Swedish side Hammerby IF ... said Berhalter postgame after his first win, “It was a great way to get started ... the emphasis was on starting and playing our game from minute one. I think we did that ... we went out there and we were brave and wanted to play ... when I look at going on the road and controlling the opponent, I think we did well. We scored two fantastic goals on the road and I’m happy with our overall performance.”
BERHALTER AMONG CREW COACHES WITH WINS IN CLUB DEBUTS
Gregg Berhalter, the seventh Head Coach -- and first Sporting Director -- in club history, led the Black & Gold to a win in his first game on the sidelines ... with the win, the Crew is now 5-1-2 all-time in the historic first match under a new coaching tenure, securing points in all but one debut (Sigi Schmid, 2005).
TOUGH TO BEAT GOOD DEFENSE
The Black & Gold blanked D.C. United, 3-0, in the first regular-season test of 2014 ... the Crew saw Philadelphia in the preseason during the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in a 1-0 win for the Crew on February 22 ... Columbus finished the 2014 preseason with a record of 4-0-1, competing in five matches and taking home a tournament title at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic ... the team’s lone draw came in a wild, back-and-forth 4-4 finish against USL-PRO side Orlando City SC to finish group play before a 4-1 victory over defending MLS Cup Champion Sporting KC on March 1.
Adam Bedell is a 6-foot-7 (79 inches tall) forward that the Crew signed officially on Wednesday. Per MLS, he is the tallest rostered player in MLS history. “Adam is a strong, tall target forward that gives additional depth this season,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
With the addition of Adam Bedell on Wednesday, the Crew’s active roster sits at 30 players. 31 players are officially under contract, but rookie Homegrown Player Matt Wiet is on the Disabled List presently and does not count as a roster spot while he recovers from an ACL surgery.
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter faced Ben Olsen as a player just one time, on August 22, 2009, in a 0-0 draw between Berhalter’s LA Galaxy and Olsen’s D.C. United.
The last time Gregg Berhalter faced D.C. United was on July 8, 2010 when Berhalter was a starter in the 2-1 win for LA over United. At the time, Ben Olsen was an As- sistant Coach with United, and less than a month later, Olsen took the reins for D.C.
The Crew’s inaugural game was April 13, 1996 in a 4-0 win for the Crew at Ohio Stadium. 560 regular-season games later -- with Saturday as career regular-season game 561 for the Black & Gold -- the Crew and United square-off to open their 19th seasons in MLS.
BERHALTER DEBUT FOR BLACK & GOLD
The Crew takes the field on Saturday under the leadership of Gregg Berhalter as the Sporting Director and Head Coach begins his MLS coaching career after coaching Swedish side Hammerby IF.
CREW BEGINS 19TH MLS CAMPAIGN
The Columbus Crew begins its 19th MLS season and enters the year with an overall regular-season record of 233-222-105 ... Saturday’s match (March 8) marks the sec-ond earliest Crew season start date in club history, six days after last season’s March 2 opener ... as a point of reference, the latest the Crew started a season was its inaugural campaign – alongside nine other charter teams – when Columbus opened play on April 13, 1996.
SEASON-OPENER: FEAST OR FAMINE
The Crew has shut out their opponents in season openers six times and have been held scoreless in the first 90 minutes four times ... the largest margin of victory was the Crew’s first-ever game – a 4-0 win against D.C. on April 13, 1996 ... the team’s largest deficit was a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on March 18, 2000 ... the Crew stormed to a 3-0 defeat of Chivas USA last season on March 2 in Carson, Calif.
PAPA DOM WILL BE OUT FOR SEASON-OPENER
Fans of Freaky Fast Dominic Oduro must wait until the Crew’s Opening Match at Crew Stadium on March 22 to see the Ghanaian speedster ... Oduro was issued a red card for a foul in the 90th minute of the regular-season finale against New England on October 27 of last year and is set to serve the mandatory one-game suspension on Saturday in the club’s first tilt of 2014 ... the red card was the first of his career.