MLSSoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle breakdown this weekend's matchup between the Crew and Fire, highlighting Ben Speas as a player to watch in the Black & Gold attack.
It took him until his fifth game in Black & Gold, but once Stern John scored, he didn't stop. John netted his first tally for the Crew on April 18, 1998 against the Miami Fusion. The Trini striker added two more in a 23-minute span to lead the Black & Gold to a 5-1 victory over the Fusion.
John bagged his first of five hat tricks in his two seasons with the Crew, a total that is still a franchise record. The striker scored 44 goals through two seasons in Columbus, good for third-most in club history.
UNBEATEN STREAK CONTINUES
The 1-1 draw on Sunday at Montreal extended the Crew’s modest unbeaten streak to four games (1-0-3) dating back to March 16 against San Jose ... the team’s last (and only) loss came when the Crew fell 2-1 in Vancouver on March 9, more than one month ago ... the Black & Gold are one of three teams with a current unbeaten streak of four or more games, joining Portland (4), Kansas City (4) and FC Dallas (5).
EASTERN CONFERENCE PERFECTIONISTS
This weekend’s match in Chicago also puts the Black & Gold’s perfect Eastern Conference record on the line ... following a 1-1 draw at Montreal last Sunday, the Crew is now 1-0-2 in Eastern Conference play this season after opening 2013 with three straight Western Conference matches (1-1-1).
ROAD SWING WRAPS-UP
The Black & Gold return to the road this weekend for their fifth away match in seven contests thus far in 2013 ... although the Crew has yet to win at home (0-0-2), the team has been able to secure key road wins after posting a 2-1-1 record away from home thus far ... after Saturday, the Crew plays its next three straight matches at home: April 27 vs. D.C., May 4 vs. New York and May 11 vs. Colorado.
Saturday's match vs. Chicago Fire will be carried LIVE and for FREE on MLSsoccer.com as the el Jimador Tequila MLS Stream of the Week.
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Following Sunday's 1-1 draw in Montreal, the Crew moved up in three out of five national media outlets' Power Rankings. The biggest move for the Black & Gold was in ESPNFC's rankings, jumping two spots from 11th to the ninth spot.
MLSSoccer.com: 6th (5th)
Sports Illustrated: 8th (9th)
ProSoccerTalk: 10th (10th)
ESPNFC: 9th (11th)
SoccerByIves: 8th (9th)
The Crew and Chicago Fire renew their rivalry this weekend at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Here is a look back at how the series played out in 2012.
First half goals from Eddie Gaven and Emilio Rentería moved the Crew's spring unbeaten streak to five matches as the Black & Gold beat the Fire back on May 26 of last year 2-1. Celtic punk band Flogging Molly celebrated the win with a post-match concert on the Crew Stadium main stage.
The Crew couldn't fight back from an early-two goal deficit as Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro tallied for the Fire within the first 30 minutes. Tony Tchani got one back for the Black & Gold shortly after Gonzalo Segares was sent off in the 29th minute. However, the Crew failed to find an equalizer despite playing against 10 men for 61 minutes.
Jairo Arrieta's aggressiveness gave the Crew an early advantage, as the Costa Rican pick-pocketed Fire 'keeper Sean Johnson to put the Crew ahead at the 15 minute mark. Columbus couldn't hold the lead however, as two Chris Rolfe tallies within three minutes of each other ultimately spelled doom for the Black & Gold.
Head Coach Robert Warzycha
Dominic Oduro on his match-tying goal
Andy Gruenebaum on team's performance
Chad Marshall talks post-match on the 1-1 draw
Radio voice of the Columbus Crew Neil Sika previews Sunday's matchup with Montreal. Neil describes the weather situation in Quebec that caused the match to be pushed back to Sunday and what the mood of the team is like with an extra day on the road.
Catch all of the action on Sunday starting at 11:35 a.m. with the Crew Pre-Game Show on 106.7 FM.