Match Preview: Crew vs. Red Bulls

Crew eager to keep up home dominance of NY

COLUMBUS CREW vs NEW YORK RED BULLS

COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio

April 7, 2012 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #39)

3 p.m. ET (Univision Deportes; FS-OH; MSG)

A key Eastern Conference clash is ahead on Saturday afternoon when the Columbus Crew entertain the New York Red Bulls at Crew Stadium. The Red Bulls have been the hottest team in MLS the last couple of weeks, scoring nine goals in that time, last in a 5-2 home win against Montreal. The Crew are coming off back-to-back shutout victories, defeating Toronto FC 1-0 on the road last weekend.

REFEREE: Mark Kadlecik. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Jeff Muschik; 4th: Allen Chapman

MLS Career: 17 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 5; pens: 6

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INJURY REPORT:

  • COLUMBUS CREW -- OUT: FW Ben Speas (sports hernia rehab); DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); DF Julius James (R shoulder surgery rehab); FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee internal injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle)
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: FW Juan Agudelo (L knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Wilman Conde (groin strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (52 meetings): Crew 23 wins, 62 goals ... Red Bulls 22 wins, 68 goals ... Ties 7
  • AT COLUMBUS (26 meetings): Crew 14 wins, 36 goals ... Red Bulls 9 wins, 33 goals ... Ties 3
  • RETURN MATCH: 9/15: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m.

LAST YEAR (MLS):

3/26: CLB 0, NY 0

6/4: NY 1, CLB 1 (Ballouchy 9 - Balchan 90)

  • The Crew are unbeaten in their last four meetings with New York. The teams played to a pair of draws in their two meetings a year ago; Columbus won both meetings in 2010.
  • New York hasn't won in Columbus since a 2-0 win July 19, 2006. The Crew have won five of the seven meetings since on their home ground, with two draws.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. NY: P8 W4 L2 D2 ... Hans Backe vs. CLB: P4 W0 L2 D2

 

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew made it two wins in a row after a week off, maintaining their unbeaten record at BMO Field with a 1-0 victory against Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon. The Crew sit in a four-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 6 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew nearly took the lead just before halftime, when TFC center back Ty Harden was ruled to have fouled Olman Vargas near the end line in the 42nd minute. Milovan Mirosevic stepped up to take the spot kick, driving a shot low and to the left, but goalkeeper Milos Kocic dove to deflect it for a corner kick.
  • Still, Columbus took the lead in the 56th minute when Bernardo Anor hammered home a shot from the center of the box after TFC couldn't clear their lines. Anor charged through the midfield and into the box after a turnover by Julian de Guzman. Defender Logan Emory attempted to clear the ball, but it deflected back to Anor, who drove a shot past Kocic.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that recorded a 2-0 win against the Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew Stadium. Eric Gehrig came into central defense in place of Danny O'Rourke.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda (Josh Williams 79), Chad Marshall, Eric Gehrig, Shaun Francis - Kirk Urso - Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Bernardo Anor (Ethan Finlay 85) - Emilio Renteria (Aaron Schoenfeld 80), Olman Vargas.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Crew have reeled off back-to-back shutouts after their season-opening 2-0 loss in Colorado. Last season, Columbus posted four consecutive shutouts following a season-opening 3-1 loss at D.C. United.
  • "We stress team defending first and if we can shut the other team down we can create our own chances and I think we are good enough going forward to get one on the road and hold on," said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
  • The Crew were forced into a change just hours before kickoff when Danny O'Rourke couldn't overcome an ankle injury and Eric Gehrig stepped into central defense.
  • "Obviously, he's a great professional and it's very encouraging that we have players like this on the bench that can step anytime and have a great performance," head coach Robert Warzycha said. Said Gruenebaum: "We have a couple guys that could fill in that spot and Eric did a great job today and it goes to show you how much depth we have on the team."
  • A week after converting a penalty kick against Montreal for his first MLS goal, Milovan Mirosevic saw his spot kick in the first half saved by Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
  • "(Mirosevic) is a great professional because he knows the last thing that you want is for the missed penalty kick to affect the game. For a lot of players it's difficult to overcome," head coach Robert Warzycha said. "His game didn't change. He was the same Milo as he was in the first minute. Because he won that ball, I am not surprised. That is what he does on the field, and that is why he is here."
  • For Bernardo Anor, it was his second career MLS goal, first hitting the net last June 18 in a 2-0 win in Houston.
  • "That's what we asked Bernardo to do all the time," Warzycha said. "If you get the ball, go forward instead of trying to find the pass." Said Anor: "It wasn't a perfect touch at first, but by continuing the play, I got the rebound and I finished it pretty well."
  • Dilly Duka made his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in the season opener vs. Colorado, playing 30 minutes in the reserves match on Sunday.
  • "There were no signs of the injury or lack of fitness. I was happy with the minutes that (Duka) played," Warzycha said. "We didn't want to push him too far, but overall it was very good."

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls continued their impressive attacking ways at Red Bull Arena, rolling to a 5-2 win against the MontrÈal Impact on Saturday afternoon. The Red Bulls are in a four-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference, with 6 points from 4 games.

 

LAST MATCH

  • The Impact took the lead after just 19 minutes, when a bouncing ball got away from New York center back Markus Holgersson and allowed Sanna Nyassi to race onto it and fire home easily from close range.
  • New York equalized nine minutes later when Thierry Henry headed home a beautiful cross from Rafa Marquez. The Mexican international was given plenty of space on the right side and he picked out Henry, who made a well-timed run.
  • But the expansion side were back in front in the 38th minute. Justin Mapp received a pass on the left flank and was allowed time and space to drive across the top of the box, firing a low shot that beat goalkeeper Ryan Meara inside his right post.
  • Yet the hosts pulled level once again in first-half stoppage time after Matteo Ferrari was whistled for a foul on Dax McCarty inside the area. Kenny Cooper claimed the spot kick and scored with a shot down the middle of the goal.
  • The Red Bulls took the lead in the 56th minute. A pass that was picked off by McCarty, and he found Henry at the top of the box. Henry turned and fired a pinpoint shot inside the near post past Donovan Ricketts, who was at full stretch.
  • New York built on their lead in the 72nd minute through a finish from substitute Mehdi Ballouchy that was set up by Henry. Solli whipped in a low cross from the right that the veteran striker flicked on to Ballouchy, who got a slight touch on the ball to put it in back of the net.
  • Henry then capped the scoring and recorded his first hat trick with the Red Bulls a minute before the end, knocking in a rebound after Ricketts spilled a shot from Cooper.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made no changes to the team that strolled to a 4-1 defeat of the Colorado Rapids at Red Bull Arena.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Ryan Meara - Jan Gunnar Solli, Markus Holgersson, Wilman Conde, Roy Miller - Dane Richards, Rafa Marquez (Teemu Tainio 46), Dax McCarty (Brandon Barklage 90), Joel Lindpere (Mehdi Ballouchy 69) - Thierry Henry - Kenny Cooper.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Red Bulls have scored 10 goals in four games to lead Major League Soccer. "We shouldn't be too negative after scoring nine goals at home and picking up six points," said New York head coach Hans Backe. "But we are competitive and we know that we just need to lift our game over 90 minutes. It's not enough to do 45 well [because] if you play against a top team, they will punish you."
  • The Red Bulls made a key change at halftime, when Rafa Marquez was taken off with a groin strain, replaced by Teemu Tainio. Marquez had suffered the strain in his season debut the week before vs. Colorado after missing the opening two games through suspension.
  • "I think Rafa was definitely not 100 percent," said central midfielder Dax McCarty. "He was moving a little slower than normal. Against Colorado, every time we gave the ball away, he was right back into position defensively, and I think today he tried to gut it out and play through it."
  • With the addition of Tainio, the Red Bulls' midfield tactics changed slightly, scoring three goals after the break.
  • "Rafa likes to drop deep and come into the backline to receive the ball," McCarty said. "I don't think we had a good understanding with the rest of the midfielders, when to come in and when to play out wide, because I think he was on an island in the first half for a while. Then Teemu came in and I think we discussed at halftime the tactical adjustment for our center backs to have the ball in the back and let them drive out a bit further up the field, and have Teemu sit more centrally and kind of be a guy that can distribute. Let me press higher."
  • Thierry Henry followed up his two-goal performance vs. Colorado with his first MLS hat trick against Montreal, winning MLS Player of the Week honors for a second consecutive week.
  • Kenny Cooper netted his third goal in the last two games; together the strike pair of he and Henry have collected nine of New York's 10 goals for the season.
  • "Kenny and Thierry weren't getting very much service," McCarty said. "They were kind of stranded as well as myself, so [in the] second half Teemu came in and obviously he brought a lot of bite to the midfield. I think we started winning more of our battles - one-on-one - so I think that was the difference.
  • Of the Red Bulls two starting wide midfielders - Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere - neither has contributed a goal or an assist thus far.
  • "It's more that they haven't been themselves comparing to last year," Backe said. "Our four front players last year, I think that they scored up to perhaps 90 percent of the goals. I hope that they can bounce back, but they have been a little bit too passive ... We need probably a little bit more from our wide players when we're on the road. Wide right, wide left has to be a little more creative. I think that is the key."
  • Marquez could be ready to return for the Columbus match, but defender Wilman Conde - who missed the opening two matches to injury - is listed as questionable for the weekend with a groin strain.
  • "We have to be a little bit smart with Wilman, of course being out that long, so we don't [have him] pick up any hamstring or thigh injuries. He will probably have a day off per week with just treatment," said Backe.