For the second-straight week, Crew Captain Federico Higuaín is up for Goal of the Week honors. Like last week, this week's tally come via a second-half chip from outside the box to put the Black & Gold up 2-0. Higuaín faces stiffer competition this week in his attempt to retain the Goal of the Week crown, however, as New England's Juan Agudelo and LA's Robbie Keane each scored fantastic goals over the weekend.
A winner will be chosen on Friday, so vote early and often.
On the heels of Saturday's Trillium Cup win over Toronto FC, the Crew now prepares for a tough task in facing Supporters' Shield leader Real Salt Lake on the road. Before the Black & Gold take on Real for the first and only time this year, here is a look back at the clubs' only meeting last season.
Delayed two hours after severe thunderstorms ravaged Central Ohio the night before, the Crew came out firing against the Western Conference leaders from the opening whistle as Tony Tchani and Eddie Gaven scored first-half goals to lift the home team to victory. Andy Gruenebaum recorded one of his career-high eight shutouts, making three saves on the evening before the largest crowd of the season at Crew Stadium. Danny O'Rourke returned to the lineup after missing four matches to patrol the midfield in the win for the Black & Gold.
After netting multiple goals for the second-straight week, Federico Higuaín has been nominated for MLSSoccer.com's Top 3 Performers for Week 25. With four goals over the past two weeks, the Crew captain now shares the team-lead with Dominic Oduro with nine goals a piece this season.
Goalkeeper Matt Lampson, the Spokesperson for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Central Ohio attended both the Summer Heroes Social at the OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rink in Dublin and the Light the Night Kick Off events recently. Matt, a lymphoma survivor, spent these two evenings by visiting with LLS heroes and their families, sharing his story and talking about the importance of being involved with the LLS.
Wil Trapp and Frankie Hejduk recently took the Active Bodies, Active Minds program on the road to over 1,200 Central Ohio YMCA summer campers during their annual Spirit Day. The current and former Crew stars participated in several games with the children, while discussing the importance of exercising and reading every day. For more information on the Active Bodies, Active Minds program and to sign up, please visit www.thecrew.com/active.
Saturday’s victory over New York was Head Coach Robert Warzycha’s 69th career regular-season win as Crew boss. Warzycha’s next victory will be his 70th regular-season win, an important coaching milestone in MLS. Only 13 other coaches since 1996 have recorded 70 regular-season wins in their coaching career, and only four active coaches in the League have 70 or more wins (Sigi Schmid, 182; Bruce Arena, 154; Dominic Kinnear, 123; and Jason Kreis, 86). A 70th win for Warzycha would also tie the coach with Tom Fitzgerald (1996-2001) for most wins as a Head Coach of the Black & Gold as Fiztgerald won 70 games in 144 contests as the man on the sideline.
The Crew and Toronto FC meet for the second time in four weeks. The Crew could secure the Trillium Cup, presented by Scotts, for the fifth time. 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 last season with three victoies over Toronto. 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.
Of the seven victories this season, the Crew has shut-out its opponent in six of those matches. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over New York marked Matt Lampson’s second clean sheet this year and second in front of the Crew Stadium faithful. The Crew has yet to end a match in a 0-0 draw this year, so when the Black & Gold keep their opponents off the board, the numbers suggest that there will be some offense to complement the stingy backline effort to give the club a win.
A classy chip from Federico Higuain last Saturday was just the thing to finish off the New York Red Bulls, and more than enough to win the Columbus Crew playmaker his first AT&T Goal of the Week award of the season.
Higuain’s goal captured nearly 41 percent of the vote for the Week 24 award, easily outpacing a crowded field and second-place winner Felipe Martins of Montreal.
The goal – which was the subject of MLSsoccer.com’s Anatomy of a Goal series this week – capped the Crew’s 2-0 upset win over the Red Bulls at Crew Stadium, in front of a euphoric crowd and new team owner Anthony Precourt.
Final Votes - Week 24 (online poll and text vote):
1. Federico Higuain (CLB): 40.74%
2. Felipe Martins (MTL): 17.68%
3. Camilo Sanvezzo (VAN): 16.73%
4. Kei Kamara (SKC): 12.99%
5. Landon Donovan (LA): 11.86%
PLENTY OF ONE-GOAL GAMES IN THE SERIES
The last five meetings between the Crew and Toronto FC have resulted in one-goal affairs ... the Crew is 4-1-0 in those matches and has shut-out Toronto twice in those matches ... the contests have been close, though, as the Crew has scored two goals twice in those four matches and have been held to single goals three additional times.
LOOKING FOR BACK-TO-BACK WINS
The Black & Gold will try to accomplish something they haven’t been able to do all season -- capture back-to-back victories ... although the club won the last match of the 2012 season and the first tilt of 2013, the last time the team won back-to-back contests was last season on August 29, (2-1 win) at Philadelphia and September 1, (2-1 win) against Montreal.
Federico Higuain scored two goals against New York on August 10, as the Designated Player recorded his third career brace and first since October 28, 2012 at Toronto in the 2012 season finale ... Higuain’s sixth and seventh goals this season pull the Argentine closer to the team lead for goals this year, trailing only Dominic Oduro (nine goals).
... AND THE CAPTAIN IS MONEY FROM THE SPOT
With his penalty kick goal on Saturday against New York, Federico Higuain is now 5-for-7 from the spot this year ... his five converted goals ties a single-season club record, tying Guillermo Barros Schelotto (2010, 5) and Andres Mendoza (2011, 5) ... Higuain is now third on the club’s all-time list for career penalty kick goals with six overall (five in 2013), trailing Schelotto (13), Brian McBride (11) and Jeff Cunning- ham (8) ... Higuain also set a new single-season career high in goals with seven now through 23 matches ... he scored five goals in just 13 appearances in 2012 after joining the Black & Gold halfway through the campaign.
DOWN TO TWO CLUBS THAT ARE NOT SEEING RED...
Through the first 23 matches this season, the Black & Gold have benefitted from smart soccer and a shortage of send-offs ... in fact, the Crew is one of two remaining teams in MLS this year -- joining D.C. United -- that have not been issued a red card ... last season through 23 matches, the Crew was issued just one red card: a Cole Grossman straight red in the 19th match of the season at Sporting KC on July 28, 2012.
... AND CHASING A RED CARD FAMINE RECORD
If the Crew can continue to avoid an ejection, the club could be on its way to matching a club record for fewest red cards in a season ... the record of zero ejections -- set in a 32-match season in 1999 -- has been relatively untouched in the years since ... the closest the team has come to matching the record were four seasons with two red cards (2000, 2003, 2004, 2012) ... on the flip-side of the ejection argument, the club record for most red cards in one season -- seven in 2009 -- for now seems to be safe for another campaign.
With a 1-0 Crew win on May 18 followed by a 2-1 Toronto win on July 27, the regular-season series enters Saturday split 1-1-0 ... the team awarded the Trillium Cup presented by Scotts will be the team with the greatest number of points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, 0 points for a loss) after the conclusion of the regular season series between the two clubs ... in the event that two teams finish the season series with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:
- The team with the greater goal difference (goals-for minus goals-against) in Trillium Cup matches shall be the winner. [Entering Saturday: Crew: 2GF-2GA=0, TFC: 2GF-2GA=0].
- If still tied, it shall be the team scoring the greater number of total goals in Trillium Cup matches [Entering Saturday: Crew: 2GF=2, TFC: 2GF=2].
- If still tied, the procedures described in 1 and 2 shall be applied only to a per-game average of all Trillium Cup games played on the road [Entering Saturday: Crew: 2 road goals, GPG= 1.00, TFC: N/A].
- If still tied, the procedures described in 1 and 2 shall be applied only to a per-game average of all Trillium Cup games played at home [Entering Saturday: Crew: N/A, TFC, 2 home goals, GPG= 1.00].
- If still tied, it shall be the team with the fewest combined team disciplinary points in Trillium Cup matches [Entering Saturday: Crew: 4 yellows, TFC: 4 yellows].
- If still tied, the team that is currently in possession of the Trillium Cup from the previous year retains it for another season [Entering Saturday: Crew].
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
A win captures the Trillium Cup presented by Scotts for either team ... that said, should the match end in a draw, fans should look at the final scoreline to determine which club gets the trophy ... if the match ends in a 0-0 draw, then technically tie-breaker scenario three states that the per-game goal-scoring average on the road is applied, and the Crew’s 1.00 per/game average would top the one match of zero goals on the road for the Reds, giving the Crew the trophy ... a 1-1 draw would bring TFC’s road goal average back to a level playing field, meaning tie-breaker four (home goals per game average) would be applied, however, the Crew’s one home goal in this scenario would match Toronto’s 1.00 home goals per game average (zero on May 18, two on July 27), forcing tie-breaker five -- which is disciplinary points ... both teams enter Saturday with four cautions a piece in the current series
WHAT ABOUT A 2-2 or 3-3 DRAW?
While a 0-0 draw gives the Crew the regular-season victory on technicalities and 1-1 draw would send the tie-breaker down the line of scenarios [potentially leading to a look at disciplinary points], should Saturday bring a barnburner draw to Crew Stadium, a 2-2 draw or a 3-3 draw would actually work against the Crew in its quest to retain the Trillum Cup in Columbus for another year ... two or three road goals for Toronto would then become their road goals average, giving them the advantage in tie-breaker three scenario of goals per game on the road.