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.
Despite playing in shutouts in the last six matches (three shutout wins, three shutout losses) dating back to August 10, the Crew does have a bit of history on its side headed into Montreal this weekend looking for its first victory at Stade Saputo. In the two previous all-time meetings at Stade Saputo in which the Crew has gone 0-1-1, the Black & Gold have found the back of the net once each time, giving the visitors a chance to perhaps make it shutouts in the last seven matches by adding another cleansheet win.
Saturday’s match will also be another first for Brian Bliss as his side heads north of the border. When Bliss took over as Interim Head Coach of Kansas City in 2006, MLS had yet to introduce a Canadian-based club into the League. Toronto joined the next year in 2007 and Vancouver (2011) and Montreal (2012) have followed suit, meaning this week’s clash will be Bliss’ first match coached against a Canadian opponent in MLS as well as first trip to Canada as Crew boss.
Tuesday night’s U.S. Men’s National Team win in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Mexico was among the top Crew Stadium soccer attendances of all time. The announced attendance of 24,584 was the fourth largest attendance for all Crew Stadium soccer matches and third largest U.S. Men’s National team attendances held at the home of the Black & Gold. The crowd helped give the Americans the crucial qualifying victory in a historic fourth “Dos a Cero” win against rival Mexico.
This weekend, the Crew travels across the border to face Canadian rival the Montreal Impact for the third time this season. Before the Black & Gold square-off with the Impact on Saturday (2:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), here is a look back at the meeting between the two sides back in June.
Matías Sánchez netted his first MLS goal just six minutes in against the Eastern Conference leaders, while Dominic Oduro added another 16 minutes later to seal the deal. In central defense, Chad Marshall and Josh Williams anchored the Crew backline to a shutout and a victory at home in front of Andy Gruenebaum.
MLSSoccer.com documents the pre-match festivities and tifo unveiling before Tuesday's World Cup Qualifier at Crew Stadium.
In tribute to Tuesday's World Cup Qualifier at Crew Stadium, Frankie Hejduk and Cody Sharrett pen a song for the U.S. Men's National Team with a little help from Neil Young.
CREW OPENS BRIAN BLISS ERA WITH A WIN
Less than two days after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Brian Bliss led the Crew to a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night in his first match as Crew boss on the sidelines ... said Bliss postgame, “You’re always happy and you’re always sad when you win and you lose -- technical director or coach. Obviously when you’re coaching you have a little bit more invested in the game for the 90 minutes than when you do when you’re sitting up in the box as a Technical Director. But the losses and the wins hurt and feel as good in both positions but you have a little more invested in it and little less in the voice box.”
FINISHING A BUSY STRETCH
The Black & Gold complete a stretch of three matches in eight days as the Crew travels to Kansas City for Saturday’s tilt ... previously in this stretch, the Crew lost 1-0 to Seattle on August 31 before Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory over Houston its final midweek match of 2013.
SHUTOUTS FOR, AGAINST A TREND IN LAST FIVE TILTS
Since a 3-1 loss at Houston on August 3, the Crew has played five consecutive matches in which one team was shut-out ... in addition to Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Houston, 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 ... following the win over the Reds, the Crew suffered a two-match losing streak which 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.
Wednesday night was a career night for Crew forward Ryan Finley, who recorded his first career goal and assist in just his second start. Finley had been previously robbed of a goal in the team’s meeting with Houston on August 3 when a shot was ruled an own goal, but Finley would not be denied on Wednesday night when the Dynamo were in Columbus. Finley became the fourth Crew player this year to record their first MLS goal, joining Ben Speas, Glauber and Matias Sanchez.
For the second time this season, midfielder/defender Kevan George has been called-up for international duty with Trinidad & Tobago ahead of an international tournament – the OSN Cup – held September 5-9 in Saudi Arabia. George previously made three starts in the 2012 Olympic Qualifying run with Trinidad & Tobago’s Under-23 squad. Two also represents the number of Crew matches he’ll miss in total as he’ll be unavailable Saturday at KC after missing Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Houston.
Eight of the team’s nine victories this season have resulted in shutout performances for the Crew backline. In fact, the last seven Crew victories have been shutout performances including recent wins against Portland (1-0) on July 7, New York (2-0) on August 10, Toronto FC (2-0) on August 17 and Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Houston. The lone victory that came with an opponent goal was March 23 in a 2-1 win at D.C. United.
Plenty of two-goal performances have led to strong results for the Crew this year. The Crew is now unbeaten (4-0-0) this season at home when scoring two goals in a match. Away from Crew Stadium, the Black & Gold are 1-1-1 when scoring two goals.
Tyson Wahl's first season with the Crew has been much like his first season as a pro with the Kansas City Wizards back in 2006.
Just as in his rookie season, Wahl's club was sold to new owners by the Hunt Sports Group midseason. Eerily, Brian Bliss has once again taken over a Interim Head Coach of Wahl's team in the middle of the season as he did in Kansas City in 2006.
With the change, Wahl has noticed a new energy in training the past two days.
"I think in general, whenever there is a coaching change, you have an increased level of intensity," the veteran defender said. "Everyone is fighting for new opportunities, believed opportunities. There is definitely a spike in effort and enthusiasm. I think it's something to capitalize on."
Given his prior experience with Bliss, Wahl feels the coaching change is good for the team's psyche.
"Blissy brings a lot of clarity and intensity. Overall, he brings a good mentality to the team," he said.
Wahl is in competition to return to the starting lineup in Bliss' first match as Interim Head Coach on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo (7:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio).
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman hosted Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers and Presidents Cup Tournament Director Dan Sullivan, along with other local politicians, on Portman Plaza outside of City Hall today to participate in a ceremonial flag raising to highlight the city’s opportunity to be showcased globally surrounding the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico on September 10, as well as the Presidents Cup Tournament taking place at Muirfield Village Golf Club October 1-6.
Mayor Coleman deemed the event a “Massive” opportunity for our community, and that the “world will be watching Columbus” during these two high profile international sporting events within three weeks of each other. In addition to the U.S. Soccer Crest and Presidents Cup flags being raised just underneath the City of Columbus flag at City Hall, street names at Broad and High Streets are temporarily being renamed “US Soccer Street” and “Presidents Cup Way” to show the city’s support for these events, which will generate a significant economic impact for the region.
He also encouraged central Ohio residents to raise their U.S. flags and proudly display them at their homes and offices, along with wearing red, white and blue on the event days, to show citywide pride for our nation. Coleman even encouraged residents to get involved in the conversation on social media by using the #raiseyourflag hashtag.