MLSsoccer.com's Nick Firchau and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle take a look at the midweek match between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake. Can RSL bounce back from their 4-0 loss to Seattle? Will Columbus be the one to dictate the match via possession?
Steve Clark nearly saved the penalty kick attempt against Toronto FC on Saturday that tied the match at 1-1 in the first half. Saturday marked the first time in 2014 -- in match number 13 -- that an opponent of the Black & Gold has earned a penalty kick. The Crew has taken and converted four penalty kicks in 2014 with Federico Higuain scoring three times and Jairo Arrieta adding another. Last season, the Crew went 17 matches before allowing a penalty kick as the LA Galaxy struck twice from the spot on July 4, 2013.
Agustin Viana scored his first goal in his MLS career last Saturday in Toronto. Viana became the seventh Crew player to record a tally in 2014 as he was able to get a head on a Ben Speas corner kick. Viana now has 22 career appearances with the Black & Gold.
Tony Tchani was able to avoid a fifth yellow card last Saturday in Toronto. Because of this, Tchani -- who had four yellows and went three matches without one -- was able to take advantage of the League’s “Good Behavior” clause and had one yellow card expunged. He’s now down to three yellow cards. If Wil Trapp can avoid a yellow in his next appearance, he too will be bumped down to a trio of cautions, but presently enters the week with four.
STRONG TRENDS AGAINST REAL SALT LAKE
The Crew returns home for a test against Real Salt Lake ... despite the loss against Real Salt Lake last year, the Crew has won three of its last four contests against the Utah side ... the Crew is 7-1-0 against RSL at home and has won its last six regular-season clashes between the clubs at Crew Stadium.
MIDFIELD DEPTH SHOWN IN TORONTO
Four Crew players that did not play on May 24 against Chicago featured in the match at Toronto FC last weekend ... two Crew players made their 2014 debut on Saturday in Toronto: Ben Speas earned an assist on his first appearance of the year while Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden made his Crew -- and MLS -- debuts in a substitute appearance ... Daniel Paladini made his first start of the season in the place of Federico Higuain ... Agustin Viana made his second start of the season with Wil Trapp out last Saturday in Toronto.
A SECOND FOR JUSTIN
For the second time this season, Justin Meram has scored a well-placed curling shot to the upper 90 for a Crew goal ... his second tally of the year came in Toronto to open the scoring in the match before he revealed a special note on his undershirt, honoring his Uncle Neil, who suddenly passed away recently ... earlier this season, Meram delivered the game-winning strike in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the Crew a 2-1 win in Seattle on March 29.
RE-GROUPING BEFORE WEDNESDAY
The Crew looks to rebound following a tough 3-2 loss in Toronto last Saturday ... defender Josh Williams was quick to point out on Saturday that the club can re-focus ahead of Wednesday’s match: “It’s not one guy, I think the defense as a whole needs to get together and regroup. We’ve got a game Wednesday at home, and I know a lot of supporters will be there, so we’ve got to forget this, put it behind us, come out and be ready Wednesday to get three points.”
In its first tune-up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Costa Rica fell to Japan, 3-1, Monday night in Tampa, Fla. as Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa found the winner for Japan in the 80th minute. The Crew's Giancarlo Gonzalez played all 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in the defeat, while leftback Waylon Francis did not see action for Costa Rica.
Los Ticos continue their preparation for Brazil on Friday in a friendly against Ireland at PPL Park in Chester, Penn. TheCrew.com will be on the ground with full coverage of the match.
PHOTO: Action Images
Matt Wiet debuted for the Dutch Lions in his game-by-game loan but Dayton fell to the Rochester Rhinos by a 1-0 final on Sunday. Aquilio Houapeu's 46th-minute tally was the difference.
Also starting alongside Wiet were fellow Crew loanees Aaron Schoenfeld, Matt Walker and Ben Sweat. Ross Friedman, fresh off of his graduation from Harvard University, came on in the second half as a substitute.
Dayton next plays on Saturday, June 7 when it travels to face Orange County Blues FC.
Jairo Arrieta scored his third goal of the season last weekend against Chicago and now ranks second on the club this year in goals. In 11 appearances -- including 8 starts -- Arrieta has already matched his 2013 goal-scoring total and now chases his record of nine goals in 18 appearances after arriving during the 2012 campaign.
With his two-assist performance on Saturday against Chicago, Federico Higuain now has five assists on the year on top of his six-goal clip thus far. Higuain now has 22 goals and 21 assists in 54 games played for the Crew. He becomes the sixth Crew player in club history to record 20 goals and 20 assists in a Black & Gold career, join- ing Brian McBride, Jeff Cunningham, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Brian Maisonneuve and Eddie Gaven.
Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani each were issued a yellow card in the 1-0 loss to Vancouver on May 10, but have not seen yellow in the two matches since. The pair of midfielders each have four cautions and can avoid a yellow-card suspension if they go a third consecutive match without being booked. Per MLS Competition Rules and Regulations, “When one yellow card away from being suspended for caution accumulation, if a player appears in three consecutive games without receiving a yellow card or disciplinary sanction, the player will have one yellow card expunged. A player may take advantage of the ‘Good Behavior’ incentive only once throughout the season.”
ANOTHER LEG OF TRILLIUM CUP PRESENTED BY SCOTTS ...
The Crew and Toronto FC battle on Saturday for the second of three meetings in 2014 to decide the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts ... Toronto secured a 2-0 victory at Crew Stadium in April in the first match of the regular-season series ... 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 ... the trophy was first awarded in 2008.
... AND THE CUP IS ON THE LINE
Following Toronto FC’s 2-0 victory over the Crew on April 5, the Crew heads to Toronto in need of a result to keep its Trillium Cup chances alive in 2014 ... a victory for Toronto would capture the trophy even with an August 9 meeting still on the schedule ... 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.
FIRST TRIP NORTH OF THE BORDER IN 2014, 15th OVERALL FOR CLUB
Saturday’s trip to Toronto is the Crew’s first of two trips to Canada in 2014 and 15th overall regular-season match north of the border ... although the Black & Gold fell to Toronto on July 27, 2013, the Crew has secured points in 11 of the 14 previous meetings up North and is 5-3-6 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 is 1-1-1 in Montreal ... additional Ohio ties to Canada include Assistant Coach Pat Onstad ... Onstad’s extensive Canadian ties are available on his bio at TheCrew.com.
BACK AT TFC & LOOKING TO RETURN TO BMO FIELD WINNING WAYS
The Crew suffered its first loss in Toronto on its last trip to BMO Field and looks to rebound in 2014 ... the Black & Gold are 3-1-5 in their first nine visits to BMO Field in Toronto dating back to 2007.
PIPA LOVES THE REDS BUT IS OUT SATURDAY
Toronto FC gets a break from Federico Higuain this weekend while the Argentine serves a one-match suspension for yellow-card accumulation ... Higuain has been lethal against Toronto and has recorded five goals and two assists in just six 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 525 minutes.