Preview: Crew vs. KC

The basics

Kansas City Wizards (2-3-2, eight points) vs. Columbus Crew (Update following tonight's match @ RBNY)

Columbus is 18-16-5 against Kansas City in 39 regular-season matchups

What's at stake?

Appearances. Columbus have already established themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. A loss to the scuffling Wizards would expose a chink in that armor. On the other hand, if Kansas City can’t find a way to walk away with three points, their winless streak will extend to six games with their next two matches coming on the road. That's a far cry from the Wizards' form at the beginning of the season.

Last meeting

The Crew have won the Supporters Shield two years running so it’s no surprise that they earned the maximum points from the Wizards in 2009. Columbus scratched to a 3-2 victory at home early in the campaign before knocking off Kansas City 2-0 at CAB in early June by virtue of two Guillermo Barros Schletto goals, despite playing down a man for almost half the match.

Heroes & Villains

Wizards depth vs. Crew depth — Columbus are missing standouts Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall, who are with the U.S. national team, while Kansas City will be without Roger Espinoza and possibly Stephane Auvray. Complicating matters even more for the Crew is the fact that they are in the middle of a stretch in which they play five games in a little more than two weeks. Whoever’s replacements make the smoothest transition will likely come out on top.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto vs. Kansas City’s defense — Schelotto will spend the match floating around the final third, looking to receive the ball and pulling the strings for the Crew’s offense. After missing Thursday’s game against the Red Bulls because of a suspension for violent conduct, he will also be completely rested unlike his teammates. The Wizards best chance to stop him is to deny service entirely, but a more realistic goal is simply to close Schelotto down as quickly as possible when he does get on the ball.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm …”

Kansas City have scored eight goals this season, and Kei Kamara has five of those and all four since the team’s opening day victory against D.C. United. Kamara even drew the penalty kick that Jack Jewsbury converted in that game, meaning he is directly responsible for 75 percent of the Wizards’ output in 2010.

He said it

“If we are doing anything consistently, that seems to be it. It’s been tough from that standpoint. It does deflate you, and you can feel it.”—Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad on the team's recent defensive gaffes