PREVIEW: Crew vs. Red Bulls

Crew look to keep the scoring trend going against depleated Red Bulls

Emmanuel Ekpo

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew meet for the second time this
season when they face off Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Red
Bulls have played to three consecutive draws, last a 1-1 tie at
Vancouver Whitecaps FC last Saturday. The Crew are coming off a wild
draw of their own, a six-goal thriller at home against Chivas USA. The
teams played to a scoreless draw in March in Columbus.

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REFEREE: Niko Bratsis. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry;
JAR (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Jorge Gonzalez MLS Career: 2 games;
FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 0; pens: 0

INJURY REPORT: NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); DF Chris Albright (hernia surgery) …
COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: DF Josh Williams (R hip labral
tear); MF Danny O'Rourke (L knee surgery); FW Santiago Prim (R ankle
sprain); MF Leandro Griffit (abdominal strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Cole
Grossman (concussion); PROBABLE: MF Dilly Duka (L ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NY: Rafael Marquez
(Mexico); Dane Richards (Jamaica); Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream (USA); Dwayne
De Rosario (Canada); Bouna Coundoul (Senegal) … CLB: Robbie Rogers (USA)
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Julius James
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Luke Rodgers … CLB: Kevin Burns

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (51 meetings): Red Bulls 22 wins, 67 goals … Crew 23 wins, 61 goals … Ties 6
AT NEW YORK (25 meetings): Red Bulls 13 wins, 34 goals …Crew 9 wins, 25 goals … Ties 3
•    The teams are playing for the second time this season, after the
Red Bulls came away from Crew Stadium with a point in a scoreless draw
March 26.
•    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 a rematch of MLS Cup 2008, won by the Crew, 3-1 at The Home Depot Center.
•    Coaches record: Hans Backe v CLB: P3 W0 L2 D1 … Robert Warzycha vs. NY: P7 W4 L2 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS):
3/26: CLB 0, NY 0
•    Facing a makeshift Red Bulls side forced to make six changes
through international duty and injury, Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer
was called upon to make two saves.
•    Red Bulls goalkeeper Alex Horwath, who signed with the club
Friday, made his MLS debut between the posts and recorded five saves.
•    COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): William Hesmer - Rich Balchan, Julius
James, Chad Marshall, Sebastian Miranda - Kevin Burns, Dejan Rusmir
(Dilly Duka 56) - Eddie Gaven (Tommy Heinemann 73), Emmanuel Ekpo,
Robbie Rogers (Bernardo Anor 64) - Andres Mendoza
•    NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Alex Horwath – Jan Gunnar Solli,
Carlos Mendes, Stephen Keel, Roy Miller – Teemu Tainio – Tony Tchani,
Joel Lindpere, Danleigh Borman – Mehdi Ballouchy, Luke Rodgers (Corey
Hertzog 84)

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls shared the points for a third consecutive match,
this time a 1-1 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday
afternoon at Empire Field. The Red Bulls have 18 points from 12 games,
sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The teams traded goals 10 minutes apart in the first half. A
lovely give-and-go between Davide Chiumiento and Camilo ended with the
Brazilian being taken down in the box by New York right back Carlos
Mendes, and Eric Hassli buried the ensuing spot kick.
•    But the Red Bulls found an equalizer as Roy Miller lofted a
crossfield pass to Jan Gunnar Solli, whose fed Rodgers for a shot on the
turn past Whitecaps FC 'keeper Jay Nolly.
•    Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made two changes to the team that
played to a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Red Bull Arena. Stephen
Keel and Juan Agudelo came into the team for Mehdi Ballouchy and
Thierry Henry.
•    NEW YORK RED BULLS--Greg Sutton - Carlos Mendes (Matt Kassel 70),
Tim Ream, Stephen Keel, Roy Miller - Teemu Tainio - Jan Gunnar Solli,
Joel Lindpere, Juan Agudelo - Dwayne De Rosario (Corey Hertzog 92+),
Luke Rodgers (Austin da Luz 70).

TEAM NEWS
•    Already missing two players to international duty, the Red Bulls
played two more starters short with Mehdi Ballouchy unable to enter
Canada with visa issues and Thierry Henry missing a second match out of
three with a knee injury.
•    “There has to be some excuses, we’re missing a lot of players, the
guys who definitely can make a difference,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe
said. “That’s why we also have to be pretty satisfied with getting
points on the road.”
•    With the lineup absence, Backe made a number of tactical shifts,
starting Dwayne De Rosario at forward and Juan Agudelo at left midfield,
with Jan Gunnar Solli on the right side of midfield and Carlos Mendes
at right back.
•    “Overall, we could have lost it, we could have won it, and I think
for the young guys coming in, [it’s good] when you’re not having the
best of days and you can tie games instead of losing,” Backe said.
•    Mendes was forced off in the second half to an injury, which
allowed Matt Kassel to come in at right back in his professional debut.
Mendes could still be available for the Crew match.
•    “I hope, because now with Marquez and Ream out for the Gold Cup,
we need Mendes and Keel to play center back so hopefully he can recover
with that kind of injury,” Backe said. “Otherwise, we are in trouble
with three center backs gone.”
•    Kassel, a Red Bull Academy product, was joined by 2010 SuperDraft
selection Austin da Luz in making their professional debut.
•    “It’s a great chance for young guys to prove themselves,” Kassel
said. “This is a chance for people to show coach and the coaching staff
what we can do.”
•    Greg Sutton made a third consecutive start in goal for the Red
Bulls, and with goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul called into the Senegal
national team for its 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier against
Cameroon in Yaounde, he will likely start against Columbus.
•    “Greg has done very good for us. He’s almost 100 per cent; I think
this is third game since he started in Houston,” Backe said. “The
players feel safe, they are comfortable with him. He has good feet; he
is good against teams with a lot of crosses and set plays. He has done
very well for us.”
•    After going three games without a goal, Luke Rodgers has once
again scored in back-to-back games. “He’s done very well here for us,”
Backe said. “The way he plays, the constant, constant movement and the
way he’s scoring, it has been a perfect fit for us so far this season.”

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew three times came back from a goal down before
settling for a 3-3 draw with Chivas USA on Saturday evening at Columbus
Crew Stadium. The Crew have 14 points from 11 games on the season, in
fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    Chivas USA took the lead after just four minutes, as Justin Braun
flighted a ball from the left side of the box and Nick LaBrocca
side-footed home a volley from close range. But the Crew drew even nine
minutes later, Emmanuel Ekpo streaking down the center of the park
before laying off to Andres Mendoza to stroke home from inside the area.
•    The visitors regained the lead in the 37th minute when defender
Andrew Boyens headed home a corner kick, but the Crew again pulled level
in the 52nd when Mendoza lashed home a second from the edge of the box
after picking off an errant pass in midfield.
•    Jorge Flores again gave Chivas a lead in the 57th minute, running
onto a defense-splitting pass from Ben Zemanski and beating goalkeeper
William Hesmer. But Ekpo again brought the Crew, waiting on a deflection
before turning and hammering a rising shot into the goal from the left
side of the box.
•    Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that
fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Josh Gardner came in
for Dejan Rusmir in midfield, and Andres Mendoza replaced the injured
Emilio Renteria up top.
•    COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad
Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan - Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo,
Eddie Gaven (Andy Iro 94+), Josh Gardner - Tommy Heinemann (Justin Meram
76), Andres Mendoza (Jeff Cunningham 70).

TEAM NEWS
•    With forward Emilio Rentería out indefinitely after suffering a
left quadriceps strain against Portland, Andres Mendoza returned to the
Crew starting lineup for the first time since April 1 and scored two
goals, his first career two-goal game in MLS.
•    Mendoza was partnered with Tommy Heinemann, making his second consecutive start.
•    “They were busy. They had some chances, and they could have scored
even more goals. I was very pleased with their performance today,”
Warzycha said. “Then (Justin) Meram and (Jeff) Cunningham also created
chances when they came in.
•    The Crew scored a goal in the first half for the first time this
season, after an MLS-record 10 games to start a season without a
first-half goal. The first-half goal snapped a 219-minute goalless
drought; the three goals were a season-high for Columbus, which entered
the game with an MLS-low eight goals on the year.
•    “We gave up three goals. The ones in first half, especially, could
have been avoided. When you give up three at home you’re going to be a
little bit disappointed,” Warzycha said. “But we were able to step up in
the second half, everybody on the field, and create some chances and
score some goals.”
•    Emmanuel Ekpo scored his first goal since May 9, 2009, netting the
late equalizer against Chivas. Earlier in the game he set up the first
Crew goal, his first assist since May 26, 2009; it was the first time in
his 80 MLS appearances he’d been involved in more than one goal in a
game.
•    “We’ve been waiting a long time for something like this. I think
his game in Portland (last week) was very good, and today he was very
active and had a goal and an assist, which I think we can build on right
now,” Warzycha said.
•    Ekpo started the game in a deep-lying central midfield role,
behind Eddie Gaven. “At the start of the game I played as a holding
midfielder when I had the assist, then I knew I pretty much had an
attacking ability to get the ball forward because we were really
dangerous,” Ekpo said.
•    Warzycha also started Josh Gardner on the left side of midfield,
with Robbie Rogers shifting to the right. But that lasted 45 minutes; in
his only other start, April 30 vs. Vancouver, Gardner played left back.
“That didn’t work,” Warzycha said. “There was a little bit of
confusion.”
•    After the break, Gardner moved back to left back and Rich Balchan
went from left back to holding midfielder. “Rich and I need to
communicate a little bit more,” Gardner said. “It’s pretty loud, so we
have to be louder when we’re yelling out directions.”