Match Preview: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew
D.C. UNITED vs COLUMBUS CREW
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
March 23, 2013 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #27)
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC SN) -- Live chat on MLSsoccer.com
Eastern Conference rivals since the inception of Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the Columbus Crew once again make their acquintances on Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium before an NBC Sports Network audience. United are coming off a scoreless draw at New York last weekend, following a victory in their home opener. The Crew are back on the road after their home opener last weekend, a 1-1 draw with San Jose.
REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): Peter Manikowski; JAR (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 12 games; FC/gm: 21.4; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 1; pens: 2
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DC: Dejan Jakovic (Canada; vs. Japan); Marcos Sánchez (Panama; vs. Jamaica) … CLB: Jairo Arrieta (Costa Rica; vs. USA)
ALL-TIME (54 meetings): United 25 wins (5 shootout), 80 goals … Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 76 goals … Ties 8
AT RFK STADIUM (27 meetings): United 18 wins (3 shootout), 56 goals … Crew 6 wins (0 shootout), 36 goals … Ties 3
RETURN MATCH: 4/27: Columbus Crew vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET
LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/21: CLB 1, DC 0 (Birchall 46) … 8/4: DC 1, CLB 0 (Pontius 49) … 10/20: DC 3, CLB 2 (DeLeon 39; Saragosa 59; Neal 91+ -- Gaven 7; Arrieta 41)
- D.C. United have won the last three league meetings at RFK Stadium between the teams, but they haven't won in Columbus since 2007, a span of five matches (4-0-1).
- One of the league's longest-running rivalries, the clubs met three times in the first four seasons in the MLS Cup Playoffs (1997, '98, '99) – United advancing on each occasion – but haven't met since.
- Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CLB: P6 W3 L3 T0 … Robert Warzycha vs. DC: P11 W7 L4 T0
D.C. United return home after their first draw of the season, a scoreless result with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.
- The Red Bulls outshot United 24-5 on the day. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make seven saves, several of them superb, while Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made two saves.
- The key moment in the match came in stoppage time when Red Bulls fullback Brandon Barklage sent a deflected header from a corner kick that seemed at first glance to cross the goal line. Hamid was there to pull off an incredible one-handed swat; replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball did in fact clear the line.
- United head coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 at RFK Stadium. Dwayne De Rosario returned from suspension to make his first start in place of Marcos Sanchez, and Marcelo Saragosa came back into the team in place of the injured John Thorrington.
- D.C. UNITED (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid - James Riley, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb - Perry Kitchen, Marcelo Saragosa - Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario (Marcos Sanchez 76), Nick DeLeon - Lionard Pajoy (Carlos Ruiz 71).
- United return home coming off their second attacking shutout in as many matches away from RFK Stadium, though they have taken four points from the opening three games of the year.
- "We'll continue to be better with the ball. It's about options, it's about wanting the ball, itís about quality of passing, our forwards have to do a better job of holding the ball up for us," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "There is a lot to work on with this group, but what we donít need to work on right now itís being a gutsy group."
- Said United midfielder Nick DeLeon: "Our offense is struggling right now. But as long as we can be defensively sound and not give up any goals, it keeps us in the game for that one counterattack where we could score. It's something that happened to us last year. It was a slow start offensively, but as we get more comfortable with each other, we'll start generating some goals."
- After serving a two-match ban following an incident in a preseason match, Dwayne De Rosario made his 2013 debut, coming into the attacking central midfield spot and playing 76 minutes.
- "We're not putting too much into (the offensive struggles)," De Rosario said. "The main thing is to keep a clean sheet right now. We know we've got guys that can score goals. We want to continue to keep a clean sheet and we know the goals will come."
- United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was credited with seven saves in keeping a second consecutive clean sheet, one short of his MLS career high.
- "He was great; he has been very good since the moment he got back from (US) national team camp. He is a new man," said Olsen. "We talk about consistency with him, making sure he is as even-keeled as possible – on and off the field – he is staying big and making big saves, he is making saves he needs to make, but he is also pulling one or two out of his hat that are saveless."
- After making his first MLS start, Marcos Sánchez returned to the substitutes' bench for the New York match, coming on for the final quarter-hour. He will be unavailable this weekend while on international duty with Panama.
- The United back four will also be forced into a change, with center back Dejan Jakovic away on international duty with Canada, for a pair of friendlies in Qatar. Homegrown Player Ethan White could get the call to slot into central defense.
- "[White] worked really hard in the offseason," said Olsen. "He's fit and, you know, right now he's just got to make sure he's ready if and when he's called upon because he will be called upon at some point this year."
The Columbus Crew made their 2013 home debut last time out, ending in a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon at Crew Stadium.
- The Crew took the lead in the 68th minute. Center back Gláuber sent home a diving header from a Federico Higuaín corner kick, his first MLS goal.
- But the Quakes pulled even just five minutes later. A quick change of field allowed Ramiro Corrales to find an overlapping Justin Morrow unmarked on the left side, and he fired a strike from 18 yards that carried into the right upper corner of the goal past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
- Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made no changes to the team that fell 2-1 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-1-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl - Danny O'Rourke - Dominic Oduro (Ethan Finlay 63), Agustin Viana (Tony Tchani 61), Ben Speas (Justin Meram 76) - Federico Higuain - Jairo Arrieta.
- The Crew return to the road where they took three points from their opening two matches of the season, now winless in the last two games.
- "I think we need more games like today where teams are pushing us and I think we're going to find our real identity – whether we can hold onto a lead or whether [other teams] are going to score more goals in the end," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "We have to show heart. I'm not disappointed that San Jose pushed us hard in the end because we're going to learn from that, because they're a very good team."
- The Crew were expecting to be dangerous on set pieces this season, and now two of their first five goals have come from corner kicks.
- "I don't know if anything was missing – maybe a final pass – we have to remember that [San Jose] is a very good team. [Victor] Bernardez is very good and so is [Justin] Morrow, and they didn't give us a lot of space," said Warzycha. "As good as [Jairo] Arrieta is, as good as [Federico] Higuain is, they couldn't find an open shot. You have to give [San Jose] credit."
- Eddie Gaven was unable to pass a late fitness test and did not figure in the match, meaning Homegrown Player Ben Speas again started wide on the left, playing 76 minutes, but shifted to an inside role.
- "Everybody knows [Higuaín is] dangerous around the box, that's why he's trying to find space somewhere around the box … that's why I think Ben Speas was very successful inside because they switched roles," said Warzycha. "Speas was more inside than outside and that's why we found Ben instead of Higuain – we planned that before the game."
- Federico Higuaín collected his first assist of the season; he scored his first goal in the season opener, the Crew's first goal of 2013.
- "When he gets out of somewhere I go in it and Iím just to be not in his way but find the open spots in our area," said Speas of Higuaín. "It's fun to play with him. I feel like I connect well with him going forward and trying to find something in the attack."
- Ethan Finlay came off the substitutesí bench for the final half-hour of the contest, his first appearance of the season.
"You've got guys that can come in like Ben [Speas] who has and just take a starting role while Eddie's [Gaven] out and he's been playing fantastic. I know Justin [Meram] got in today, made his debut as well as I did so there's a lot of competition," said Finlay. "It makes us better and we go again and battle this week and weíll see what the traveling 18 is to D.C."