A BIT OF REVENGE AT STAKE ...
The Crew needed two positive results last weekend to stay afloat in the run for the MLS Cup Playoffs and unfortunately were eliminated from postseason contention ... the Crew fell 3-2 to the Revs on Saturday night and then Chicago defeated Toronto just after the final whistle in the Crew match ... even with a Crew win at New England, the Black & Gold would have been eliminated ... however, the loss to the Revs leaves the Crew with a feeling that New England kept the Crew from the postseason, giving plenty of motivation this weekend to return the favor.
DESPITE TWO LOSSES THIS YEAR, BLACK & GOLD HAVE REVS’ NUMBER ...
Sunday’s meeting will be the 60th regular-season meeting between the two teams, the Crew’s most-faced opponent during the season since 1996 ... the Crew’s 29 wins (29-19-11) against the Revs are the most versus any opponent in Black & Gold history, more than D.C. United (23 wins against), New York (24 wins against) or Sporting KC (21 wins).
... AND A STRONG STRETCH AGAINST THE REVS HAS HELPED
Although the Revs have won the regular-season series in 2013 with a pair of wins on July 20 and October 19, the Black & Gold have found success against the Revs over the last six seasons ... in the last 17 meetings, dating back to 2007, the Crew is 8-5-4 against the Revs ... during that stretch, the Crew has won the regular-season series four times and the two teams have split results two other times ... from 1996 through 2000, and again from 2002 through 2006, the two conference foes met four times a year.
With starts at right wing in the last four matches, Dominic Oduro now has started 17 matches in 2013 lined up on the right, while also posting 15 starts at forward. Oduro’s team-leading 12 goals have been fairly balanced, with seven goals in 15 starts at forward and five goals in 17 games at right midfield. The Crew is 5-7-3 in 2013 when Oduro starts at forward and is 7-8-2 when Oduro takes the field on the right side of the Crew’s midfield.
Making starts in the central midfield in the last four matches, Tony Tchani now has 20 appearances, including 11 starts, for the Crew in 2013. The 24-year-old began his career with New York in 2010 and made 27 appearances (17 starts) for a career-high in both categories. Over the last two seasons with the Black & Gold, Tchani has recorded 44 appearances and 25 starts.
With the Crew on a bye weekend last weekend (October 11-13), midfielder/defender Kevan George departed for international duty with Trinidad & Tobago. George earned his third career cap in the 0-0 draw on Tuesday night, making a substitute appearance in the 83rd minute. Earlier this season, George earned a call-up during the OSN Cup, an international tournament held in Saudi Arabia from September 5-9. During the tournament, George made two substitute appearances to earn his first two caps on the senior roster, appearing as a substitute in the match against the United Arab Emirates on September 5 and against Saudi Arabia on September 9.
CREW & REVS HAVE HISTORY, BLACK & GOLD HAVE THEIR NUMBER ...
Saturday’s meeting will be the 59th regular-season meeting between the two teams, the Crew’s most-faced opponent during the season since 1996 ... the Crew’s 29 wins (29-18-11) against the Revs are the most versus any opponent in Black & Gold history, more than D.C. United (23 wins against), New York (24 wins against) or Sporting KC (21 wins).
... AND A STRONG STRETCH AGAINST THE REVS HAS HELPED
Although the two teams split the regular-season series in 2012 with each team finish- ing 1-1-1, the Black & Gold have found success against the Revs over the last six seasons ... in the last 16 meetings, dating back to 2007, the Crew is 8-4-4 against the Revs ... during that stretch, the Crew has won the regular-season series four times and the two teams have split results two other times ... from 1996 through 2000, and again from 2002 through 2006, the two conference foes met four times a year.
ANOR CAN SCORE
Bernardo Anor remains a scoring threat for the Black & Gold as well as he’s seen success in starts in the last seven games, the last four of which he’s lined up at left wing ... with his goal in the 86th minute to complete the Black & Gold’s scoring on September 29 against FC Dallas, Bernardo Anor now finds himself with four goals this year ... more impressively, Anor’s career-high four goals this season puts him third on the club’s list of scoring leaders in 2013 ... he’ll have plenty of scoring to do if he wants to catch Dominic Oduro (12 goals) or Federico Higuain (11 goals), but the third-year player has made a career-high 18 appearances (17 starts) in the midfield this year, earning a healthy amount of minutes in place of the injured Eddie Gaven.
With his assist in the 4-2 victory over FC Dallas, Federico Higuain now has a club-leading nine assists in 2013. With 11 goals already in his clip, Higuain is one assist shy of becoming the second player in Crew history to record 10 or more goals and 10 or more assists in a single season. If he’s able to record a helper in one of the final three matches of 2013, he’d become the first player in 12 seasons to do so as Jeff Cunningham posted 10 goals and 13 assists in 2001.
The Crew has put together its first three-game winning streak of 2013 and has found plenty of scoring in the current stretch. The Black & Gold averaged three goals per game in that trio of wins, marking the first time since 2008 that the club posted a three- game winning streak while averaging three tallies per game in that span. In 2008, from August 23 to September 6, the Crew secured victories of 3-0, 2-1 and 4-0 while this year’s edition featured wins of 2-1, 3-0 and 4-2 from September 14 through September 29.
5, 2, 3
Dominic Oduro’s five game-winning goals in 2013 is currently in a seven-way tie for second-most in MLS this season behind Chris Wondolowski’s six game-winners. Oduro’s last three matches featured game-winning goals for the Crew as he recorded his second three-goal month of 2013 following a trio of goals in the month of April.
WE WANT MORE, WE WANT MORE
Winners of three in a row and four of its last five, the Crew enters the weekend hungry for more points with three games remaining ... with a bye weekend (Oct. 12) approaching, the Black & Gold need to secure key points against Sporting KC ... following the bye weekend, the Crew opens a home-and-home series with New England to finish the regular season ... in a 12-game stretch from June 15 against Montreal through August 31 against Seattle, the Crew secured four wins for a total of 12 points, or an average of one point per game ... conversely, in this current stretch of five games under Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss, the Crew also has four wins (12 points), but is averaging 2.4 points per game.
A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER
It was a whirlwind first month for Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss, taking over on September 2 before coaching his first match two days later in the 2-0 win over Houston on September 4 at Crew Stadium ... the winds of change brought the Crew success in September as the team registered 11 goals and 11 assists, marking the first time since 1998 that the team had posted 10 or more goals or 10 or more assists in the month of September ... the victories last month also marked the first four-win September for the Crew since 2004 ... last October, the Crew went 1-1-1 and just missed the 2012 postseason, falling a point behind Houston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
Certainly the Crew would have had a tough time securing four wins in five matches without a stretch of strong defensive performances ... over the last five matches, the club has recorded two shutouts and allowed a single goal to the then-Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact ... the club’s only loss in that stretch allowed three goals to Sporting KC on September 7 ... despite that three-goal match, the Black & Gold backline has allowed an average of just 1.2 goals per game under Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss.
With a 3-0 win over Chicago last weekend, the Black & Gold are now two goals shy of recording their 800th regular-season goal. Only four other teams in MLS have recorded 800 or more regular-season tallies, including Sunday’s opponent, FC Dallas (815). New York has recorded 806, while D.C. United (863) trails only LA (875) on the elite list.
In 40 regular-season games with the Crew, Federico Higuain has now recorded 15 goals and 15 assists, including seven penalty kick goals (six in 2013), as well as five game-winning assists (three in 2013) and five game-winning goals (three in 2013).
Federico Higuain is 6-for-8 from the penalty spot this season and is tied for second in MLS history with Carlos Ruiz (2003) and Preki (1996) for most penalty attempts in a single season, per MLS. Higuain is one attempt shy of matching Jaime Moreno’s nine attempts in 2005, although Moreno went 9-for-9 that season. The Crew’s nine penalty kick attempts this season (eight for Higuain, one for Ryan Finley) is one attempt shy of tying a four-way lead for most team attempts in a single-season (10), trailing: Dallas (1997), Chicago (2000), MetroStars (2000) and D.C. United (2011).
250TH APPEARANCE FOR CHAD
Chad Marshall’s next appearance will be his 250th career regular-season appearance, all with the Black & Gold ... the defender is set to become the club’s first player to reach the 250-appearance milestone in the regular season ... Marshall, who also leads the club’s regular-season lists for all-time starts (246) and minutes played (21,860), made his first career appearance on April 17, 2004 in a start at Kansas City ... earlier this season, Marshall became the first Crew player to log 20,000 minutes for the Crew.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
Winner of three of its last four matches dating back to the beginning of the Brian Bliss era, the Crew has made a strong push for the postseason ... included in the recent stretch is the club’s current two-match winning streak, marking the second time in two months that the club has earned back-to-back wins ... the three wins in four matches also represent the first time all season that the club has won three games in a single month in 2013.
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
Certainly the Crew would have had a tough time securing three wins in four matches without a stretch of strong defensive performances ... over the last four matches, the club has recorded two shutouts and allowed a single goal to the then-Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact ... the club’s only loss in that stretch allowed three goals ... despite that three-goal match, the Black & Gold backline has allowed an average of just one goal per game in the month of September.
GOOD NEWS FOR GRUENEBAUM
After missing nine matches with left shoulder weakness, there is positive news on the injury front for Andy Gruenebaum ... Gruenebaum was removed this week from the club’s injury report after being upgraded to “questionable” last week ... Gruenebaum started the first 20 matches of 2013 and Matt Lampson made his 10th overall start and ninth consecutive go in net in Gruenebaum’s place last Saturday ... Lampson has five shutouts this season, while Gruenebaum has four cleansheets to his name.
Saturday’s match marks the 50th regular-season meeting between the Crew and the Fire dating back to 1998. The Crew has secured points in 25 of those meetings, posting a 12-24-13 record. Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss did not face the Fire when with the Wizards as a player in 1998 but did see Chicago in his previous interim role with Kansas City in 2006, falling to the Fire in the lone meeting.
While all eyes in Crew Stadium were on witnessing a sold-out soccer crowd in Columbus on September 10, Central Ohio tuned in to the match in droves from its homes. Watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Columbus was the highest-rated market in the country for this game (5.1 rating) with Miami-Ft. Lauderdale was second with a 3.3 share. Overall, the match was the second-most viewed USMNT qualifier in ESPN history (2,243,000 viewers), and combined with the UniMas Spanish-language broad- cast the match drew a combined audience of more than 7 million viewers – second only to the March 26, 2013 match between the USMNT and Mexico at Azteca.
Federico Higuain now leads the team with three game-winning assists in 2013. His seventh and eighth assists of the season were crucial, providing the game-tying and game-winning assists in a must-win affair in Montreal. In 39 career games for the Crew, Higuain has recorded 14 goals and 15 assists, with five game-winning goals and five game-winning assists.
END OF A TREND
Last Saturday’s 2-1 victory snapped a recent trend of scorelines that either helped or plagued the Black & Gold for a six-week span ... from August 10 through September 7, the Crew played to six shutout results ... on August 10 and August 17, the Black & Gold kept the Red Bulls and Toronto FC off of the scoreboard respectively in 2-0 wins ... then, a two-match losing streak saw a reversal of goal-scoring fortune as the Crew was shut-out 4-0 on August 24 at Real Salt Lake and a 1-0 loss to Seattle on August 31 ... the streak continued as the Crew defeated Houston, 2-0, on September 4 before a 3-0 defeat at Sporting KC on September 7 ... that trend seemed likely to continue with the Impact up 1-0 last Saturday before a pair of second-half goals gave the Crew a 2-1 win.
COMEBACK KIDS ...
The Black & Gold’s 2-1 win over Eastern Conference-leading Montreal did more than just put the Crew back in the hunt for playoff contention ... the win accomplished something the club had been unable to do all season: win after its opponent scored the match’s opening goal ... prior to last Saturday, the Crew was 0-11-3 in 2013 after conceding the opening strike, giving the Crew its first comeback win of 2013.
... AND A LITTLE LATE-GAME MAGIC
Dominic Oduro’s game-winning goal in the 78th minute on Saturday at Montreal sealed a 2-1 win for the Black & Gold and also provided some much needed late-game magic for the Crew ... Oduro’s goal was the team’s first game-winning or game-tying goal after the 75th minute in 2013 ... in a welcomed change with respect to goals of that nature in the final 15 minutes, the Crew had previously allowed six game-winning goals against and three game-tying goals against already in 2013.
SOMETHING IN THE HALFTIME SPEECH
Whatever Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss said in the halftime locker room in Montreal last Saturday clearly worked ... with his club down 1-0 to the Eastern Conference-leading Impact, Bliss’ Crew scored a pair of goals in the second 45 to give the Crew a 2-1 win ... the victory was the Crew’s first of the season when trailing at halftime ... previously, the club was 0-8-2 overall when trailing at half, including a frustrating 0-6-0 record when trailing after the first 45 minutes on the road.
THE FIGHT FOR THE POSTSEASON
With five matches remaining, the Crew remains in the hunt for the playoffs this year with hopes to return to postseason play after an absence in 2012 ... of the five remaining matches, four of the tilts are against Eastern Conference opponents, including a crucial home-and-home series with New England to wrap-up the year ... the club’s lone Western Conference match is next Sunday at FC Dallas.
ANOTHER TEST AGAINST EASTERN CONFERENCE-LEADING IMPACT ...
Saturday’s match is the third meeting between the two teams this year and a third test against an Impact side that has sat atop the Eastern Conference ahead of both tilts in 2013 ... the Crew has secured crucial points against the Impact and will look to do the same on Saturday against the current conference leaders with the Black & Gold five points out of the fifth-place spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
... AND A CHANCE TO TAKE A REGULAR-SEASON SERIES
A win in Montreal would also mark the Crew’s third regular-season series victory in 2013 ... with a 2-0 win over Toronto on August 17, the Crew secured its second regular-season series victory following a pair of victories against D.C. United (2-0-0): a March 23 win at RFK Stadium (2-1) and a 3-0 win on April 27 at Crew Stadium.
A FINAL TRIP NORTH OF THE BORDER
Saturday’s trip to Montreal is the Crew’s fifth and final trip to Canada in 2013 and 14th overall regular-season match north of the border ... although the Black & Gold fell to Toronto on July 27, the Crew has secured points in 10 of the 13 previous meetings up North and is 4-3-6 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 the Crew’s 1-1 draw at Montreal on April 13 improved the Crew’s record at Montreal to 0-1-1 ... additional Ohio ties to Canada include rookie defender Drew Beckie who was born in Regina, Saskatchewan.