PREVIEW: Crew vs. Red Bulls

Crew welcome undermanned Red Bulls for home opener

Emmuanuel Ekpo

Photo Credit: 
Jamie Sabau - Getty Images

MLS Cup finalists a few years back, the Columbus Crew open the home portion of their season by playing host to the New York Red Bulls. The Crew started their 2011 season with a loss, falling 3-1 at D.C. United last weekend. The Red Bulls are coming off a season-opening victory, knocking off Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 at home.

REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Jason Cullum;
JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Sorin Stoica MLS Career: 104 games;
FC/gm: 27.3; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 16; pens: 24

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: MF Danny O'Rourke (L knee surgery); DF Shaun Francis (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Emilio Renteria (L hamstring strain) ... NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: FW Thierry Henry (L hamstring strain); DF Jan Gunnar Solli (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Roy Miller (L hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Korey Veeder (U.S. U-20s) ... NY: Dane Richards (Jamaica); Rafael Marquez (Mexico); Bouna Coundoul (Senegal); Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream (USA); Sacir Hot (U.S. U-20s)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (50 meetings): Crew 23 wins, 61 goals ... Red Bulls 22 wins, 67 goals ... Ties 5

AT COLUMBUS (2 meetings): Crew 14 wins, 36 goals ... Red Bulls 9 wins, 33 goals ... Ties 2

RETURN MATCH: 6/4: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/20: NY 1, CLB 3 (Tchani 81 – Gaven 35; Iro 39; Renteria 83) 7/17: CLB 2, NY 0 (Renteria 20; Carroll 48)

  • The Crew swept the season series a year ago, their 3-1 win at Red
    Bull Arena on May 20 the first road win by either team since a New York
    victory at Crew Stadium, July 19. 2006.
  • Before last year’s victory, you’d have to go back to April 12, 2003 to find a Crew victory at New York.
  • The game is, of course, a rematch of MLS Cup 2008, won by the Crew, 3-1 at The Home Depot Center.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. NY: P6 W4 L2 D0 ... Hans Backe v CLB: P2 W0 L2 D0

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew started off 2011 with a loss, falling 3-1 to D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium.

  • United took the lead six minutes into the second half. Jed Zayner’s pass found Josh Wolff toward the right side of the area and he hammered home a drive inside the near post.
  • Then, some 10 minutes after coming onto the field for his MLS debut, Charlie Davies converted a penalty kick after Chris Pontius
    was tripped up in the penalty area. In the 77th minute, Davies hit for
    the second on his magical return to soccer, nicking a loose ball and
    skipping through the top of the box before rounding goalkeeper William Hesmer and slotting home
  • The Crew pulled back a late goal when Robbie Rogers converted from the penalty spot.
  • "That is going to be our worst game of the season because I don't
    think we can play any worse," Warzycha said to the Columbus Dispatch.
  • The Crew had MLS debutantes at both fullback spots, with Sebastian Miranda and Rich Balchan starting. Dilly Duka was given the start in a wide midfield spot, with Emmanuel Ekpo pulling the strings in the center of the park.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan - Dejan Rusmir - Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka (Robbie Rogers 66) - Jeff Cunningham (Tommy Heinemann 61), Andres Mendoza.

TEAM NEWS

  • Dilly Duka, who made two starts in his rookie season last year and
    played just 160 minutes, was given the start on the left wing ahead of
    Robbie Rogers.
  • “I thought I had a good preseason,” the Generation adidas member
    said. “Whether I’m playing games or not, I’m young and I’ll cheat myself
    if I’m not working really hard every day because I can grow as a
    player.”
  • Rogers, a U.S. international, made 20 appearances (17 starts) in league play last season, scoring one goal.
  • “There is a competition,” Warzycha said. “If the guy is playing
    better, he has to be on the field. That’s why it happens. It happens to
    anybody, not only to Robbie. Dilly performed better. They both
    performed, but it’s for me to choose the guy at the moment who is a
    better fit for the team.”
  • Rogers, who had scored one goal in each of the last two league
    seasons, took the penalty kick in the 79th minute after coming on as a
    66th-minute substitute.
  • “It says a lot,” Warzycha said. “He went for the ball and took it
    and scored. He had the guts to do that. Good for him. If Jeff
    [Cunningham] was on the field, he probably would have taken it. But
    Robbie was decisive. He got the ball and believed he would score and did
    it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
  • In a second change, Julius James was given the start in central defense ahead of Andy Iro, who had worn the captain’s armband during the preseason.
  • “We’re playing a little bit differently, not necessarily better, but
    differently. We’re less predictable,” said technical director Brian
    Bliss. “It would be nice to go with three or four wins in the first
    seven games but we certainly don’t want to saddle the team with those
    responsibilities because it would be unfair.”
  • Jeff Cunningham, still one goal behind retired D.C. United legend
    Jaime Moreno for the all-time MLS goalscoring crown, started up top
    ahead of Emilio Renteria, who was sidelined with a hamstring ailment.
  • “The record, barring injuries, I’m going to reach it at some point,”
    Cunningham said. “My job is to come every day and compete, do the
    little things in training to prepare myself for the matches. Whatever
    playing time I get I have to make the most of it.”

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls got their 2011 campaign off on the right foot,
getting their first victory of the season in a 1-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena.

  • The game’s lone goal came with 20 minutes remaining. Juan Agudelo
    ran on to a long ball played out of midfield by Teemu Tainio, and the
    teenager held off a defender before curling a shot past Kasey Keller.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe started Agudelo in attack alongside Thierry Henry. Greg Sutton was preferred to Bouna Coundoul in goal.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Greg Sutton - Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim
    Ream, Rafael Marquez, Roy Miller - Teemu Tainio - Dane Richards (Danleigh Borman 93+), Mehdi Ballouchy (Tony Tchani 68), Joel Lindpere - Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry.

TEAM NEWS

  • While Agudelo had yet to hit for a goal in MLS play – he played all
    of 14 minutes in two appearances in the regular season before starting
    both of New York’s games in the MLS Cup Playoffs—he had scored for the
    U.S. national team.
  • “I'm really young for this and really happy," said Agudelo. "The
    goal was special because I did what I was trying to do, curled it to the
    far post." Said Backe: "He surprised me today. We knew he has a decent
    game, that he's an athlete. But I was very happy with his
    decision-making."
  • Thierry Henry, who scored two goals in 11 league matches after being
    acquired by the Red Bulls, saw a penalty kick saved by Sounders FC
    goalkeeper Kasey Keller in the first half.
  • "I hate this, how forwards are judged only by goals," Henry said to
    the Daily News. "Goals will come, but we always know what our teammates
    are doing for the game."
  • Backe will face some real selection problems for the trip to
    Columbus. Five first-choice performers—Agudelo, starting center backs
    Tim Ream and Rafael Marquez, winger Dane Richards and goalkeeper Bouna
    Coundoul – will all be away on international duty. It would have been
    six, but fullback Roy Miller turned down a call from Costa Rica.
  • “We’re good enough (to win the championship), but if you look at the
    schedule this year it’s a very tricky season,” Backe said. “And if we
    are really unlucky, we can be without five to six players in 12 MLS
    games, and that’s a third of a season. I don’t think Barcelona has that
    depth. They will not win La Liga without six starters.”
  • In addition, Henry was kept out of full training at the start of the
    week while dealing with a hamstring ailment. In the absence of both
    starting strikers, Luke Rodgers could be a candidate, but was an unused
    substitute in the Seattle match.
  • “We have to wait and see how fit he is,” Backe said. “I just don’t
    know yet, but I imagine he should be available to us and would at least
    be on the bench, like he was on Saturday.”
  • Greg Sutton started between the posts in place of Bouna Coundoul,
    who started 27 games in goal for the Red Bulls in 2010. Sutton made
    seven saves for the shutout; he had two in three MLS starts last year.
  • “Obviously if we can keep winning and I do my job in goal, then
    hopefully the job will continue to be mine. To be able to get the
    confidence from the coach to go with me even when Bouna’s available,
    it’s nice to have,” Sutton said to The Star-Ledger. “We’ll see what
    happens.”