Match Preview: Crew vs. Chivas USA

Crew aim to get back on track vs. struggling Chivas
COLUMBUS CREW vs CHIVAS USA
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
September 19, 2012 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #272)
7:30 p.m. ET (FS-OH; PT)
 
Aiming to pull themselves back into the Eastern Conference playoff positions, the Columbus Crew return home to take on Chivas USA at Crew Stadium on Wednesday evening. The Crew are coming off back-to-back losses, last a 3-1 defeat at the New York Red Bulls, that has left them in sixth place in the East. Chivas have their backs to the wall in a battle for playoff survival, on a seven-game winless run after a 2-0 home loss to San Jose and needing almost to win out the rest of the way to stay alive.
 
REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante; AR2 (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Sorin Stoica
MLS Career: 85 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 24; pens: 23
 
 
INJURY REPORT:
COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); MF Bernardo Anor (L knee ACL tear); DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain); DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); PROBABLE: FW Jairo Arrieta (R ankle contusion); FW Federico Higuain (R foot inflammation)
CHIVAS USA – OUT: GK Tim Melia (lower back)
 
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED:
CHV: Shalrie Joseph (caution accumulation; through Sept. 19); Robin Fraser (head coach; through Sept. 19)
 
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
CLB: Chris Birchall
CHV: Oswaldo Minda
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Sebastian Miranda, Dilly Duka, Danny O’Rourke
CHV: Ryan Smith
 
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Crew 4 wins, 18 goals … Chivas USA 6 wins, 21 goals … Ties 4
AT COLUMBUS (7 meetings): Crew 3 wins, 12 goals … Chivas USA 1 win, 10 goals … Ties 3
2011 (MLS)
4/9: CHV 0, CLB 0
5/28: CLB 3, CHV 3 (Mendoza 17, 52; Ekpo 64 – LaBrocca 4; Boyens 37; Villafana 57)
  • This is the only meeting this season between the teams.
  • The visiting team hasn’t won in the series since 2005, Chivas USA’s inaugural MLS season, when both teams won on the road in their two meetings that year.
  • The teams played to a pair of draws a year ago, a 3-3 result in Columbus after a scoreless match in Carson.
  • Coaches' records: Robin Fraser vs. CLB: P4 W2 L1 D1 … Robert Warzycha vs. CHV: P18 W4 L9 D5
COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew went down to their second consecutive defeat on the road, dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Crew sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points from 28 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Crew got off to a dream start, opening the scoring on three minutes. Receiving the second of a pair of onetwos on the left side of the Red Bulls penalty area, forward Jairo Arrieta delivered a low rolling cross that Milovan Mirosevic tapped home.
  • The Red Bulls equalized six minutes later through Thierry Henry. Rafa Márquez hit a perfect diagonal ball from just inside his own half to a streaking Henry, who trapped the ball smoothly before calmly placing a low shot into the back of the net.
  • The home side took the lead in the 79th minute. After Henry had seen a shot tipped off the crossbar by Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, Henry whipped in a corner kick that Dax McCarty looped perfectly inside the left post with a header. Gruenebaum struck his face against the left post on the play, resulting in a lengthy delay for treatment before he was forced to leave the match.
  • Henry capped his virtuoso performance three minutes into second-half stoppage time. From the left corner, he curled the ball perfectly around subsitute 'keeper Matt Lampson and off the inside of the far post into the goal to secure the victory.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made three changes to the team that fell 2-0 to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Julius James, Josh Williams and Tony Tchani all came into the side, in place of Nemanja Vukovic, Chris Birchall and Federico Higuain.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum (Matt Lampson 85) - Sebastian Miranda (Federico Higuain 89), Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Williams - Danny O'Rourke, Tony Tchani - Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 65) - Jairo Arrieta.
TEAM NEWS
  • After a four-game winning streak, the Crew have lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 8-14.
  • “I think we gave up the tying goal too easily and too early to tie the game it 1-1. Second half I thought the game got a little better, we had some success possessing the ball, but the second goal was a crucial moment in the game, just giving up that goal on a set piece was backbreaking,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “ …You lose the game away from home, it’s not the end of the world. The thing is, the way we gave up the goal is where we have more questions.”
  • The loss dropped the Crew out of the top five in the Eastern Conference and back out of the playoff-paying places.
  • “If we’re going to go to the playoffs we have to win [the Chivas USA] game for sure. From the first minute we have to show that we want to be there, and that’s our target now, we have to forget this game,” said Milovan Mirosevic. “We have now six games left instead of seven and we have to start getting some points.”
  • Following five consecutive starts, where he had scored three goals and added five assists, Federico Híguain came off the substitutes’ bench in the New York bench, entering the game in the 89th minute.
  • "He had an injection on Wednesday,” Warzycha said. “It’s probably a week for it to heal. He knew he was good for 15 minutes today. He was warming up and didn’t have pain so we took a risk. If he tried to play today and had more pain he would be out the next week or so and we could lose him for the next two or three games.”
  • In Híguain’s place, Mirosevic moved forward into the attacking midfield role, and Tony Tchani came in alongside Danny O'Rourke into the deep-lying central midfield spots.
  • “We practiced two days before without him so we weren’t surprised and we had a chance to prepare to play without him,” Mirosevic said.
  • Said Warzycha: “We didn’t want to start [Higuaín] and take him out after 15 minutes or a half-hour because of the pain. It was a risk to put him in, but we were hoping he could get a free kick or a corner kick and we’d score. We said coming off he had no pain. … He can do something special on the field, whether it’s a free kick or putting somebody into space. Maybe he gives us more confidence. I’m sure he does.”
  • Goalkeeper Matt Lampson made his third appearance in the last five games when Andy Gruenebaum was forced from the field after colliding with the goalpost while trying to keep out New York’s second goal.
  • Julius James came into the starting lineup for the first time since June 30, starting in central defense as O’Rourke moved forward into the midfield.
  • For the fourth time in the last eight matches, Jairo Arrieta recorded a goal or an assist (with three goals and two assists in that time), setting up the Mirosevic opening goal.
  • “When we scored, I really didn’t think we were one up. I didn’t think we changed our game plan at all because we knew it was so early in the game. The line of our pressure we kind of stuck to it and sat in a bit and waited for them to come at us,” said midfielder Dilly Duka. “They got one back, I don’t know how much longer after our first goal and kind of caught us by surprise.”
  • Higuaín did return to training ahead of the Chivas game. “I practiced today with no problem,” Higuain said Monday. “If the coach decides to put me in the lineup I am ready. That’s the reason I didn’t play much on Saturday. That could affect my performance the rest of the season.”
CHIVAS USA
Chivas USA saw their winless run stretched to seven matches, going down to a 2-0 defeat by the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 27 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Quakes took the lead five minutes before the intermission. After San Jose’s Alan Gordon was elbowed by Chivas defender John Valencia inside the box, referee Chris Penso conferred with his assistant and then pointed to the spot. Chris Wondolowski converted from the spot, and at halftime, Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser was dismissed from the field.
  • San Jose quickly doubled their advantage four minutes after the break. Justin Morrow slipped the ball across the penalty area towards Wondolowski, who laid the ball off to Gordon, and he powered a shot past an offbalance Dan Kennedy.
  • Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made two changes to the team that lost 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. John Valencia came into central defense for Rauwshan McKenzie and Oswaldo Minda came into the midfield for Ben Zemanski.
  • CHIVAS USA (4-4-2): Dan Kennedy - James Riley, John Valencia, Danny Califf, Jorge Villafana - Nick LaBrocca, Oswaldo Minda (Ryan Smith 66), Shalrie Joseph, Miller Bolanos - Juan Agudelo (Juan Pablo Angel 66), Casey Townsend (Jose Correa 76).
TEAM NEWS
  • Chivas USA saw their winless streak extended to seven games in the 2-0 loss to San Jose. They have allowed 22 goals in the streak, which started Aug. 12.
  • “I’ve been here a long time,” Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. “I’ve been through some hard times with this club, with this team. I’ve been through some good times. This is obviously one of the lower lows.”
  • Said defender Danny Califf: “I don’t think that I’ve ever experienced such frustration in all the years I’ve played this game. It seems like we can’t really put a foot right and we can’t get things to go our way and we can’t get the breaks.”
  • Over the seven-game slide, Chivas have taken just two of a possible 21 points, and have fallen from sixth place in the Western Conference into a tie for eighth. Following their last win – a 1-0 win at Portland on July 28, Chivas were within seven points of the final playoff spot.
  • “The last place thing is obviously difficult to swallow for any of us,” Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney said. “I still think that we’re doing a lot of this with our decisions on the field and guys making decisions and not executing in moments on the attacking side. … We’re looking for that positive moment. We seem to keep skirting it, whether it’s missing opportunities or whether it’s defensive mistakes or bad decisions. We need something to build on and we haven’t been able to find it.”
  • Vanney took over the bench coaching duties after Chivas head coach Robin Fraser was sent off, and will fill that role again as Fraser will be suspended for the match.
  • “Robin has been there on and off the field, and Greg Vanney has done a great job being assistant coach. He can replace Robin like that, they work off each other,” said midfielder Shalrie Joseph. “I understand why Robin had to do what he did, that’s just part of being a coach, sticking up for your players.”
  • The game in D.C. is the second of a two-game Eastern road swing for Chivas USA, the last of a string of five games out of six on the road.
  • “We just need to get wins, we just need to win against the right teams. If we can get hot now then we can be in good shape,” said midfielder Nick LaBrocca.
  • Making his third start in four matches, since the 6-2 loss to Seattle on Aug. 25, John Valencia was whistled for the foul that gave the Earthquakes the go-ahead penalty kick.
  • “I don’t know that it was an elbow to the head from what I saw he stepped into Gordon’s run, he stepped in pretty firm into his run and put a forearm into him,” said Vanney. “I just think it was an unnecessary moment where we didn’t need to put ourselves in that situation or the referees. The play was contained; it wasn’t like Gordon was in a dangerous spot to put a header in.”
  • Ryan Smith was able to return from a hamstring injury for his first action since July 21, coming on for the final 24 minutes of the match.