Federico Higuain continues to lead MLS in corner kicks this season (109). His career high for a single season was 123 last year, which he is on-pace to potentially break. Overall, Higuain is third on the Crew’s all-time list for corners, trailing Robert Warzycha (503) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (423).
The Crew is the only team to feature three players with at least 600 successful passes in the opposing end (Higuain , Tchani , Trapp ). No other MLS team has more than one player that has accomplished this feat.
Crew captain Michael Parkhurst leads Major League Soccer this season in passing accuracy among all defenders that have played at least 20 matches this season. The MLS All-Star has completed 87.29 percent of his passes and has worn the armband in 25 tilts for the Black & Gold in 2014.
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME
Sunday’s meeting is the last match against Chivas USA and the first in quite a long time ... the Crew opened the 2013 season on March 2 with a 3-0 road win at Chivas USA ... since the last time the two teams played, the Crew has had 59 matches against other MLS opponents.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS
Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani are set to miss Sunday’s match while each serving one-match suspensions due to yellow-card accumulation ... Sunday’s tilt is the first time Tchani has missed action in 2014 ... the clash against Chivas USA presents an opportunity for other players to get a start in the central midfield as the Tchani-Trapp pairing started the last 10 matches together.
Justin Meram scored his fifth goal of the season to open the scoring in the 35th minute on August 23 against Houston ... Meram has scored a goal in three of the club’s last four matches ... of Meram’s 10 career goals since 2011, five of them have come in 2014 .
Crew midfielder Romain Gall notched a goal in the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team's 2-0 victory over Racing Club Reserves in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday afternoon.
Gall was joined on the scoresheet by Philadelphia Union Homegrown Player Zach Pfeffer, who scored on a penalty in the 11th minute before the newest member of the Black & Gold doubled the USA's advantage in the 27th minute, aided by an assist from Paul Arriola.
The U.S. U-20s next play the Defensa y Justicia Reserves on Saturday, September 6, followed by a meeting with Argentina’s U-20 squad on Tuesday, September 9.
Photo Credit: U.S. Soccer
Recovering from his MCL sprain suffered on July 4, Hector Jimenez has made substitute appearances in each of the Crew's previous two matches, including the 2-0 loss in Montreal. That match, which came on the heels of two strong performances at home, has left the Black & Gold in a state of refocusing for this weekend's match against Chivas USA.
"To be honest with you, we sat down [earlier this week] and we talked," said Jimenez. "[Montreal] was one of those games that was just a bad game. We're going to try to put it in the past and move on. We were coming off of two good victories against Houston and LA, and we're going to try to prepare like we did for those games this coming weekend. I know it's a huge game after obviously a defeat. Three points at home this weekend would be huge."
Aiding the Crew in its quest to right the ship is the fact that the club is returning to Crew Stadium, where it has played well recently, particularly in the resounding victories over the Dynamo and the Galaxy. Jimenez said that recovering from the Montreal match was "definitely" aided by playing back at home.
"Knowing that we have a really important game this weekend helps out a lot. It's one of those games where we have to come out and get three points this weekend, especially with it being a tight race for the playoffs in the East."
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Obetz, the Crew defeated Dayton Dutch Lions FC by a 5-1 score in a friendly scrimmage.
The match was an opportunity for select Black & Gold players to stay sharp as well as to continue fostering the relationship with the club's USL-PRO affiliate. Ben Speas notched two goals for the Crew and guest trainee Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester City added a hat trick. Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said that Iheanacho, 17, is training with the Crew to maintain fitness before rejoining the Barclays Premier League side in mid-October.
"It's been unfortunate that we haven't had enough reserve games for the guys that haven't been playing," said Berhalter. "This is an opportunity for them to get game time. We did that in an abbreviated form [with two 35-minute halves]. Overall, I thought it was helpful. Guys like Hector [Jimenez], Jairo [Arrieta], Daniel [Paladini], Kevan [George] -- to give them some minutes -- Chad [Barson], all the guys, it was definitely worthwhile."
George and Paladini also started together in the holding midfield role. Both are candidates to start on Sunday against Chivas USA in the absences of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani due to yellow-card accumulation.
"I thought [the pairing] was good. I thought they controlled the game from the middle," said the Crew boss. "Defensively, they were both good. I was pleased."
Neil Sika joins Matt Finkes every Wednesday for Sika the Truth on 95.5 The Game.
The Crew took a small slide in national Power Rankings after its 2-0 loss in Montreal on Saturday, but the Black & Gold have a strong chance to rebound with a home clash on Sunday against Chivas USA (3:00 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).
See below for this week's rankings with last week's position indicated afterward:
ESPNFC: 11 (10)
SI.com: 10 (9)
MLSsoccer.com: 9 (8)
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Brad Stuver had another productive week for Wilmington, going unbeaten and allowing just one goal over two matches for the Hammerheads. On Thursday, August 28 he helped Wilmington defeat Orlando City SC by a 3-1 final score. Two days later, he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Sacramento Republic FC. Stuver has now started seven matches for the Hammerheads, compiling a 1.43 goals-against average. The goalkeeper was also named to the league's Team of the Week for his efforts.
Elsewhere in USL-PRO, Crew loanee Ross Friedman returned for Dayton after missing two matches, starting and playing 40 minutes in a 7-0 loss to Orlando City SC. Matt Wiet also started for the Dutch Lions in the contest.
Photo Credit: Kirby Hines