Crew broadcaster, Neil Sika, catches up with Black & Gold midfielders Kevan George and Ben Speas ahead of the matchup with the LA Galaxy.
Just like last season, the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy will meet just once this season due to the unbalanced MLS schedule. Before the two MLS charter members meet at the StubHub Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), here is a look back at the teams' matchup in 2012.
In the Crew's first match following the death of rookie midfielder Kirk Urso, an emotionally charged Black & Gold dictated the play early to force numerous attempts on goal in the first half. The Crew finally got a greakthrough early in the second half as Jairo Arrieta beat Josh Suanders to give the home team the lead after 47 minutes. Just after the hour mark, an in-form Robbie Keane equalized to level the game at one. Despite several late chances from both sides, the score remained deadlocked through 90 minutes to give the Crew a point at home.
Crew striker Dominic Oduro talks about being the fastest man in MLS, growing up idolizing fellow African Samuel Eto'o and the biggest mistake you can make defending him.
U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team midfielder and Ohio native Wil Trapp talks about his early start with soccer, working his way into the Columbus Crew system and playing a significant role on Tab Ramos' U-20
squad in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
AN IMPORTANT TWO-MATCH ROAD SWING
After closing-out a two match homestand in the third and fourth weekends of June, the Black & Gold begin an important two-match road swing: at Sporting KC (June 29) and at LA (July 4) ... following Saturday’s match, the team will travel to LA on Sunday and train in the City of Angels ahead of the Independence Day clash on Thursday ... the seven-day trip will test the team’s road record of 3-3-2.
A TRIP TO SPORTING PARK...
The Crew travels to Sporting KC’s beautiful home, Sporting Park, for the club’s third- ever visit ... the Crew fell 2-1 in the team’s first visit on September 28, 2011 before securing a full three points in the Black & Gold’s only visit last year on July 28 -- a 2-1 win for the visiting Crew ... from 1996-2007, the Crew was 5-9-2 at the longtime home of the Kansas City club before posting an unbeaten (3-0-0) record at Community- America Ballpark from 2008 through 2010 before Sporting’s new venue opened.
TOP GOAL-SCORERS BATTLE FOURTH STRAIGHT MATCH
For the fourth straight week, the Crew and its opponent will battle in a match featur- ing two of the top five goal scorers in MLS in 2013 ... Dominic Oduro added his seventh goal of the season on Saturday, June 15 against Montreal and remained in the elite list of MLS goal-scorers in 2013 ... Oduro is tied with Sporting KC’s Claudio Bieler for fifth in MLS behind Camilo Sanvezzo and co-Budweiser Golden Boot leaders, Jack McInerney, Mike Magee and Marco Di Vaio (10 goals) ... Oduro has converted on the fewest amounts of shots on goal -- demonstrating that when the opportunity strikes, so does the Ghanaian striker.
SANCHEZ UNAVAILABLE ON SATURDAY; MIDFIELD COMPETITION...
Matías Sánchez will miss Saturday’s match as the Argentine serves a mandatory one- game suspension for yellow-card accumulation after picking-up his fifth caution last Saturday against Chicago ... other midfielders that have seen action this year include- Kevan George, Tony Tchani, Agustín Viana and Konrad Warzycha.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BATTLE OF CORNER KICK LEADERS
Saturday’s contest also features the League’s top two corner kick leaders thus far in 2013 as Federico Higuain (71) faces Graham Zusi (70) of Sporting KC ... the Crew only had three corner kicks in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Chicago, but Higuain took all three for the club ... Zusi took all four of Sporting’s corner kicks in the 2-2 draw against FC Dallas last weekend, leaving the midfielder just one behind the Crew play- maker entering this weekend.
Before the match on June 22 against the Chicago Fire, first responders from the April 27 Crew Stadium scoreboard fire were recognized with a special jersey. The Columbus Crew would like to give them a special thank you for their service.
Station 1 (Union Station Engine House)
Station 2 (Nance Fire Station)
Station 7 (Buckeye Fire Station)
Station 13 (Olde North Columbus Fire Station)
Station 16 (Mock Orchard Fire Station)
Station 18 (South Linden Fire Station)
On the heels of its Military Appreciation Night on June 22, the Crew joined forces with Operation Buckeye to help prepare care packages that will be sent to servicemen and women overseas. Players and staff spent Wednesday afternoon filling boxes with food, toiletries and letters of encouragement to help brighten soldiers' spirits while they serve the United States Military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have to be thankful for everything the troops do for us," Crew midfielder Justin Meram said. "Anyway I can help give back to them, I will do it. Without them our country wouldn't be so great.
"We have to do everything we can to make their days better. They're out there with just water and not much to eat. These are the times when we need to help and make those days a little bit easier for them."
Last year alone, Operation Buckeye sent over 5,000 boxes overseas to troops stationed overseas. For more information, visit OperationBuckeye.org.
The Crew and Sporting Kansas City split their three meetings in 2012 right down the middle with each team claiming one match apiece while the finale ended in a draw. Before the two original MLS rivals meet for the first time in 2013, here is a look back at the three battles from last season.
A seventh-minute Jacob Peterson tally gave Sporting an early lead in a midsummer clash between the two midwestern rivals at Crew Stadium. While the Crew created several prime chances in search of an equalizer, Kansas City's All-Star goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was there to deny the Black & Gold each time. Top-of-the-table Sporting's victory was sealed in the 82nd minute when striker Teal Bunbury finished a Kansas City counterattack to beat Andy Gruenebaum in net.
Despite Kansas City forward Kei Kamara's early goal, the Crew's only trip to Sporting Park in 2012 was the coming out party of newly signed Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta. The forward tallied twice to help the Black & Gold overcome an early deficit, including a 30-yard laser past Nielsen to give Columbus the 2-1 lead in the 34th minute. Playing in front of his hometown crowd, Kansas City native Andy Gruenebaum made five crucial saves amid a Sporting onslaught late in the match to preserve the Crew victory.
Just like the first two matches before, Sporting Kansas City scored within the first 10 minutes against the Crew to put the Black & Gold on their heels early. With its playoff chances waning, Eddie Gaven's stoppage-time near-post header past Nielsen was enough to keep the Crew's postseason dreams alive for the time being.
When mentioning Dominic Oduro to any Crew supporter, they usually think of two things – his blistering pace and his love of Papa John's pizza. Today, while his speed was not on display, Oduro managed to share a few slices of his favorite pizza with a group of appreciative supporters in front of Crew Stadium.
“I took off a half-day to come down here”, said Chris Welsh, who enjoyed a piece of pizza with his wife and fellow Columbus Crew season ticket holder, Heather. Oduro joined the couple shortly after they were seated, thanked them for their support and encouraged them to grab another slice.
Oduro, who is not shy about relating his fondness for Crew supporters and his own fans alike, remained humbled by the opportunity to give back after working a personal endorsement with the official pizza of the Crew and Crew Stadium.
“I appreciate the fact that some people are coming from work just to be here for a bite – that really makes me feel happy and proud,” said Oduro at the event, which previewed the special $11 Crew Pie – an extra-large pizza conveniently priced after Oduro’s jersey number – set to launch next week.
“I want to thank Papa John's for making this thing happen.”
Even though the turnout was impressive, as more than 150 slices were distributed in the lunch-hour event, Oduro insisted that he was happy with the idea of a low-key event, for the fans.
“I just want to show my appreciation, at the end of the day, to all of the fans out there. It doesn’t matter how many are in the crowd,” said the 27-year-old Ghanaian. “I’d be excited if just one person showed up.”
Complementing the pizza party, the Crew’s leading goal-scorer also made a personal donation to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank as the culinary-based event called for recognition of helping the less fortunate.
“I’m just trying to give back to the community – it’s just another way for me to try and carry it forward. Hopefully my donation to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank can help to feed a couple of people out there. My hope is that people will see what I’m doing and try to do the same.”
Crew midfielder Wil Trapp wore the captain's armband and played 90 minutes in the United States' 1-1 draw with France in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Monday. After two matches, the U.S. is in third place in Group A of the tournament on one point. The U.S. has one match against Ghana remaining in group play on Thursday with a chance to advance to the knockout round.