Crew News & Notes - July 28

After an impressive home win over the Houston Dynamo last Saturday (July 24), the first-place Crew travels to Los Angeles for an encounter with Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center this Saturday (July 31). It will be the second and final time the clubs will meet this year, with the Crew having taken the first game, 1-0 on May 15 at Crew Stadium.

Saturday’s match, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will be televised live regionally on ONN-TV with Dwight Burgess and Dante Washington calling all the action. The game can also be heard in English on News/Talk 610 WTVN, with Neil Sika behind the microphone, as well as in Spanish on La Mega 103.1-FM, featuring Carlos Cordova and Benny Pietrangelo on the call.

Chivas, which currently sits in eighth place in the Western Conference with a 4-9-3 record (15 pts.), enters the match on the heels of an impressive 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake on Saturday (July 24). Jesus Padilla’s 70th-minute goal equalized just four minutes after RSL’s Ned Grabavoy opened the scoring. That game followed three straight SuperLiga matches, including a 1-0 win over fabled Mexican club Pachuca.

The Crew, which remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-3-4 record (34 pts.), enters the match after earning a decisive 3-0 victory over Houston, extending the Black & Gold’s lead over idle New York to eight points in the Eastern Conference. Emilio Renteria, Andy Iro and Leandre Griffit scored the goals and William Hesmer was forced to make just one save in recording the shutout.

COLUMBUS CREW at Chivas USA

Saturday, July 31 – 10:30 p.m. (ET) at The Home Depot Center

National Television: N/A; Regional Television: ONN-TV

Crew Radio: News/Talk 610 WTVN (English); La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)

MARSHALL, SCHELOTTO PREPARE FOR WEDNESDAY’S SOLD OUT MLS ALL-STAR GAME

Houston’s Reliant Stadium has sold out for the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, between the best of MLS – including Chad Marshall and Guillermo Barros Schelotto of the Crew – and England’s Manchester United. More than 70,000 fans are expected to attend the game in Houston, which will be televised live nationally on ESPN2 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the game were purchased in 41 states and five countries. The sellout crowd will be among the highest attendance for an All-Star Game in a major U.S. sport. The 2010 NBA All-Star Game drew 108,713 to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the 1996 MLS All-Star Game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 78,416 at Giants Stadium in E. Rutherford, N.J. Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game drew a record crowd of 72,086 to Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1981, and last year’s NFL Pro Bowl had an attendance of 70,697 at Land Shark Stadium in south Florida.

GRIFFIT MAKES MLS DEBUT, SCORES TWO MINUTES LATER

Midfielder Leandre Griffit made his MLS debut on Saturday (July 24) – and what a memorable one it was. The Frenchman did not enter until the 88th minute, but that didn’t stop him from providing some late fireworks. Griffit latched onto the rebound of a Guillermo Barros Schelotto shot in the 90th minute, evaded a defender and hammered the ball into the back of the net to put the finishing touches on a 3-0 Crew victory. It tied a league record for fastest goal upon entering one’s first regular-season match. Griffit had made his first competitive appearance in Black & Gold on July 6, in the Crew’s 3-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Charleston, coming off the bench in the 76th minute.

HESMER EXTENDS ALL-TIME CLUB LEAD IN SHUTOUTS TO 30 WITH YET ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET

Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer recorded his eighth shutout of the 2010 season in the Crew’s 3-0 win over Houston on Saturday (July 24), extending his all-time club lead in shutouts to 30. Hesmer currently ranks second in the league in shutouts and third in goals-against-average (0.76 GAA).

SHAUN FRANCIS MAKES FIRST CAREER MLS START

Rookie defender Shaun Francis made his first MLS start in Saturday’s (July 24) 3-0 win over Houston – one week after making his MLS debut vs. N.Y. After coming on in the 57th minute for the injured Brian Carroll in the July 17 game vs. the Red Bulls, Francis went the full 90 minutes vs. Houston. The Jamaican’s back-to-back league appearances come on the heels of starting assignments in U.S. Open Cup victories over Rochester and Charleston in recent weeks. Francis is in his first professional season, following a three-year collegiate career at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) during which he captained the Blue Raiders to the 2009 NAIA National Championship.

FIRST PORTION OF PHASE I OF PARKING LOT PROJECT OPENS

The first portion the Phase I of the parking lot improvement project was completed in time for more than 800 newly paved and painted spaces to be used for the Crew game on July 24. Improved lighting is also a highlight of the project.

CREW TO FACE D.C. UNITED IN U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINALS SEPT. 1 AT RFK STADIUM

By virtue of its 2-0 victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders last Wednesday (July 21), D.C. United advanced to face the Crew in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament. D.C. will host the match at RFK Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Chivas USA and Seattle Sounders FC will meet in the other semifinal. The Crew is in the semis for the first time since winning it all in 2002.

CREW JUNIORS SUPER-20s PREPARE FOR NATIONAL FINALS

On the heels of their Under-19 McGuire Cup championship victory last weekend, many of the same Crew Juniors players will take the field at this weekend’s U-20 national finals. Thanks to their second place finish (8-2-0, 24 pts.) in the Midwest division of the USL Super-20 League this summer, the Crew Juniors Super-20s, coached by Crew technical director Brian Bliss, will play in the USL Super-20 League Finals this Thursday (July 29) through Sunday (Aug. 1) at Sportscore II in Rockford, Ill. The full tournament schedule will be released once all qualifying teams have been determined.

CREW U17s ADVANCE TO SUM CUP SEMIFINALS

The Crew U17s advanced to the semifinals of the 2010 SUM Cup, before falling to D.C. United, 3-0, Tuesday in Houston. In a winner-take-all match to determine the semifinalist from Group B on Monday, Columbus downed Seattle, 1-0. The Crew previously defeated pre-tournament favorite FC Dallas, 2-1, and topped Philadelphia in penalty kicks, following a 1-1 draw.

ANNUAL CSF GOLF CLASSIC BENEFITTING BUCKEYE RANCH HELD MONDAY AT PINNACLE

The Annual Crew Soccer Foundation Golf Classic, benefiting The Buckeye Ranch, was held on Monday (July 26) at Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City. Since 1961, The Buckeye Ranch has offered hope to countless children and families who have struggled with emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues. The Ranch is a recognized leader in providing mental health services and has eight locations throughout central Ohio and Hamilton County. Every day, more than 1,800 children and families benefit from the Ranch’s many programs and treatment services. The Crew Soccer Foundation is the Crew’s charitable arm, dedicated to giving back to the community that supports Ohio’s Major League Soccer club, by serving as a catalyst for community investment and development. Leveraging the club’s unique status as the state’s – and region’s – acknowledged soccer leader, the CSF works to advance the sport at all levels and enrich the overall quality of life in central Ohio and beyond, with an emphasis on developing the potential of our area’s young people.

RASCAL FLATTS TO ONCE AGAIN VISIT CREW STADIUM ON SUNDAY, AUG. 8

Columbus Crew Stadium and the Ohio State Fair will once again be hosting Rascal Flatts at Crew Stadium, on Sunday, Aug. 8, marking the fifth time in six years they’ll perform at the venue. This year’s show will take place on the closing night of the 2010 Ohio State Fair. Rascal Flatts has topped America’s country music charts since bursting onto the scene a decade ago. Kellie Pickler, the popular country vocalist and former “American Idol” finalist, will open for the show, along with “Nashville Star” winner Chris Young. Tickets , priced at $75, $60 and $35, are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster by phone at 800-745-3000, Ticketmaster.com and the Crew Stadium Box Office. Admission to the Ohio State Fair is included with the purchase of any ticket. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m. The multi-platinum-selling group has had 24 songs hit Billboard’s Hot Country chart, including 10 that reached number one. Its 2006 album, “Me and My Gang,” was the second-biggest selling album of any genre that year. The band’s hits include “Take Me There,” “Prayin’ for Daylight,” “Life is a Highway,” “My Wish”, “I’m Movin’ On,” “Summer Nights” and “Unstoppable.” Rascal Flatts was named top vocal group of the year by the Academy of Country Music for eight consecutive years and was nominated again in 2010. Earlier this year, the dynamic musical trio starred in an episode of the CBS television drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” in which they played themselves.

CREW SOCCER FOUNDATION, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE TEAM UP FOR ‘AN EVENING OF SOCCER & SPIRTIS’ AUG. 10

The Crew’s charitable arm, The Crew Soccer Foundation, will host “An Evening of Soccer & Spirits,” featuring a runway show and scotch and wine tasting this Tuesday, August 10, from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Men’s Department of the Saks Fifth Avenue location at Polaris Fashion Mall (1350 Polaris Parkway, Columbus, OH 43240). Columbus Crew players and staff will be in attendance at the event, many of whom will be displaying the latest in fashion apparel from Saks Fifth Avenue. Tickets are available for $50 a person, with all proceeds supporting Crew Soccer Foundation programming for central Ohio youth and families. For more information, please call (614) 447-4175.

TUNE IN TO CREWXTRA WEDNESDAYS AT 8 AND 11 P.M. ON ONN-TV

This week on CrewXtra, the Crew’s weekly show on ONN-TV, host Beau Bishop will be joined by French midfielder Leandre Griffit, Voice of the Crew Dwight Burgess and Dispatch beat writer Shawn Mitchell at 8 and 11 p.m. CrewXtra is broadcast every Wednesday and provides viewers with in-depth coverage and access to the team every week, including game recaps, breakdowns and previews of the upcoming matches, while interspersing other news, interviews, discussion and features.