PREVIEW: Crew vs. RSL

Crew host midweek clash with RSL

COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
7:30 p.m. ET (ONN; KMYU 2.2)
June 8, 2011 (WEEK 13; MLS Game 118)

Real Salt Lake kick off a two-game Eastern swing by paying a visit
to the Columbus Crew when the clubs face off Wednesday at Crew Stadium.
The Crew are starting a two-game homestand of their own, coming back for
a second draw in a row in a 1-1 result at New York last weekend. After
seeing their two-year league home unbeaten streak come to an end, RSL
returned to their winning ways in Sandy last weekend with a 2-0 win
against Vancouver.

DOWNLOAD: Full game guide

REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 131 games; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 40; pens: 49

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW  —  OUT: DF Josh
Williams (R hip labral tear); FW Santiago Prim (R ankle sprain); FW
Emilio Renteria (L quad strain); MF Leandro Griffit (abdominal strain);
MF Danny O'Rourke (L knee surgery); DOUBTFUL: FW Bernardo Anor (L ankle
sprain)  ...  REAL SALT LAKE  —  OUT: MF Javier Morales (L ankle
fracture dislocation); FW Paulo Jr. (R hip flexor strain); QUESTIONABLE:
DF Robbie Russell (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Collen Warner (L
ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Robbie Rogers (USA)  ...  RSL: Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica); Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador); Will Johnson (Canada)
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS: SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Julius James ... SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Crew 7 wins, 16 goals  ...  Real 4 wins, 12 goals  ...  Ties 1
AT COLUMBUS (6 meetings): Crew 5 wins, 12 goals  ...  Real 1 win, 3 goals  ...  Ties 0
RETURN MATCH: 7/30: Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m. MT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/24: CLB 1, RSL 0 (Barros Schelotto 38)
8/14: RSL 2, CLB 0 (Morales 11, 60)
•    The Crew have won the last four meetings between the teams at Crew
Stadium in league play. But Real did win in Columbus in the 2009
Eastern Conference Semifinals on their way to victory in MLS Cup.
•    The Crew last won at Real Salt Lake in 2006, a 1-0 win at
Rice-Eccles Stadium. RSL has won the last three home meetings between
the clubs. Columbus has never won in three trips all-time to Rio Tinto
Stadium in league and MLS Cup play.
•    Coaches record: Robert Warzycha v RSL: P5 W3 L2 D0 ...  Jason Kreis vs. CLB: P7 W3 L4 D0

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew saw their winless streak stretched to five games,
but came back for a dramatic second consecutive draw, in a 1-1 tie with
the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Crew
have 15 points from 12 games on the season, starting the week in a tie
for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Red Bulls opened the scoring after just nine minutes.
Collecting a long ball from Jan Gunnar Solli, Luke Rodgers spun away
from a couple of defenders before laying the ball square to Mehdi
Ballouchy, who chipped a shot past hard-charging Crew goalkeeper William
Hesmer.
•    But two minutes into stoppage time, Crew rookie Justin Meram raced
New York right back Matt Kassel and found fellow rookie Rich Balchan
making a hard run into the box, and he then fired home a shot past a
helpless Greg Sutton for the equalizer.
•    Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that
settled for a 3-3 draw with Chivas USA at Columbus Crew Stadium. Dilly
Duka replaced Robbie Rogers, away on international duty.
•    COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad
Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner (Shaun Francis 86) - Rich Balchan -
Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 74) - Tommy
Heinemann (Jeff Cunningham 41), Andres Mendoza.

TEAM NEWS
•    The RSL match starts a two-game week with both games at Crew
Stadium. The Crew are 0-2-3 in their last five matches, have not won
since April 30, and are now 0-3-3 with three goals scored and nine
allowed away from home.
•    "I think we played well enough to deserve a point," Warzycha said.
"I think we were a good attacking team. I think we were going for the
goal."
•    The winning goal came in a pair of rookies who played in the Big
Ten Conference who were drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLS
SuperDraft  —  Rich Balchan (Indiana University, No. 12 overall) and
Justin Meram (University of Michigan, No. 15 overall).
•    Balchan was making his first start in a defensive midfield role
after starting 10 of the Crew's first 11 games at left back. His goal
came on his first career shot in MLS, after 990 minutes.
•    "It's all just instinctive," Balchan said. "The ball was perfectly
put onto my foot. I just kind of opened my foot up. I don't do much
finishing in practice. I don't know what happened. I just know it went
in."
•    Meram was supposed to replace Balchan in the 74th minute, but when
midfielder Dilly Duka suffered a sprained ankle, he could not continue.
Duka could miss the RSL match as a result.
•     "I sprained it in the first 10 minutes of the game," Duka said.
"I saw a sub coming and I think they were going to push me into the
middle so I told Bobby I had to come out. I knew I couldn't contribute
anymore. I knew I couldn't track on defense and couldn't do anything on
offense because my ankle swelled up. It's huge."
•    In addition, starting forward Tommy Heinemann left in the first
half with a left hamstring injury, replaced by Jeff Cunningham.
•    After scoring two goals the week before, Andres Mendoza could not
find the back of the net from two good chances in the second half vs.
New York. "We have to look at the positive," Warzycha said. "He's in the
right place at the right time. Obviously, finishing is another
(matter), but at least he's getting chances."

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake returned to their winning ways, defeating Vancouver
Whitecaps FC 2-0 on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL starts
the week sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, with 20
points from 10 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    Real took the lead after 32 minutes. Kyle Beckerman threaded a
pass to Jean Alexandre, just beating the offside trap, and the Haitian
held off a couple of defenders before cutting toward goal and lifting a
shot over Whitecaps FC 'keeper Joe Cannon
•    Then in the 79th minute, Alexandre evaded a midfield challenge and
flicked it into space for Fabian Esp"ndola, who raced onto the pass
then finished clinically from inside the area, putting a low shot into
the right side of the net.
•    RSL coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the side that fell 2-1
to Seattle Sounders FC at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chris Schuler and Chris
Wingert came into the back four for the suspended Jamison Olave and
Robbie Russell, and Collen Warner and Nelson Gonzalez started in
midfield for Andy Williams and Will Johnson.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-4-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris
Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Collen Warner (Artur Aghasyan
87), Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Nelson Gonzalez (Andy Williams 67) -
Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 81), Fabian Espindola.

TEAM NEWS
•    Real put an end to their three-game MLS winless run and scored two
goals in a game for the first time since a 2-0 win April 9 vs. New
England. RSL had scored just three goals total in their previous six
league matches; they outshot Vancouver 24-6 on the night.
•    "We have to work that hard if we want to win games," Kreis said.
"When we don't work that hard, we won't win games. And when we do work
that hard, we'll win most of them."
•    With RSL hampered by a host of injuries to strikers, Jean
Alexandre started a second consecutive match at forward and scored his
first professional goal and added his first MLS assist. He was named MLS
Player of the Week.
•    "I've been dreaming about my first goal, and in my mind, it's
always like a scrappy ball that hits me off the head and goes in the
net," Alexandre said. "Actually, it was a decent goal, so I'm happy for
that."
•    Alexandre has been a holding midfielder for the vast majority of
his time as a professional, until the start up top in the 2-1 loss to
Seattle.
•    "That was a world class pass, that took me by surprise, it took
everybody by surprise ëcause that pass was very difficult pass [for Kyle
Beckerman] to make," said Alexandre. "I need a lot more work,
especially my movement. I've got to get use to making runs instead of
just shuffling back and forth for the ball like I'm playing center mid."
•    Missing as many as seven regulars because of injury, suspension
and national team duty, RSL had only six available substitutes, one
short of the prescribed limit.
•    "After losing to Seattle last weekend, we knew we had something to
prove this weekend," defender Nat Borchers said. "We knew we had to
come out and prove ourselves again to the fans, make a statement to the
league and get those three points."
•    Armenian forward Artur Aghasyan, the cousin of former RSL forward
Yura Movsisyan, made his MLS debut, playing the final three minutes
after signing with the club on May 27.
•    Alexandre's strike partner, Fabian Esp"ndola, scored his second
goal of the MLS season and first since April 13. He's made back-to-back
starts after completely missing the two previous league games.
•    "It was very gratifying to see (Esp"ndola get the goal). In the
last two games, the ground that he has covered and the balls that he has
chased down  ...  he's taking a few more risks than typical," Kreis
said. "I think he's doing that because he knows that someone has to make
a difference for us right now and he is trying to be that guy that will
do it."