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Eastern Conference Championship

MLS Match Preview: Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union

COLUMBUS CREW vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
April 6, 2013 (WEEK 6, MLS Game #45)
5 p.m. ET (FS-OH; Live Well ABC6.2)

The Columbus Crew return home following a weekend off when they play host to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday afternoon at Crew Stadium. The Crew won for the second time this season ñ both on the road ñ when they defeated D.C. United two weeks ago at RFK Stadium. Union saw their two-game winning run come to an end last weekend, dropping a 2-1 decision at the New York Red Bulls.

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REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. SAR (bench): Claudio Badea; JAR (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Hilario Grajeda

MLS Career: 8 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 0; pens: 3

DISABLED LIST: none

SUSPENDED: none

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Crew 5 wins, 12 goals Ö Union 2 wins, 8 goals Ö Ties 0

AT COLUMBUS (27 meetings): Crew 3 wins, 8 goals Ö Union 0 wins, 4 goals Ö Ties 0

RETURN MATCH: 6/5: Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):

4/14: PHI 1, CLB 0 (Gomez 38)

8/29: PHI 1, CLB 2 (Valdes 29 ñ Williams 41; Gaven 95+)

9/29: CLB 3, PHI 2 (Arrieta 44, 50+; Mirosevic 87 ñ Cruz 65; McInerney 86)

  • The Crew have won all three meetings lifetime vs. Union at Crew Stadium, including a 3-2 victory in their final encounter a season ago.
  • The Crew won the final two meetings between the teams last year. The 2-1 at PPL Park on Aug. 29 for Columbus snapped a Union two-game home winning streak in the series.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. PHI: P7 W5 L2 T0 Ö John Hackworth vs. CLB: P2 W0 L2 T0

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew return to action following an off weekend, their last match a 2-1 win against D.C. United at RFK Stadium on March 23. The Crew are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 4 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Columbus broke through in the 15th minute when an unmarked Josh Williams headed in Tyson Wahl's free kick from just beyond the edge of the six-yard box.
  • But United leveled the score in the 22nd minute with a moment of brilliance from Rafael. He reached Chris Pontius' header, turned on a Crew defender and struck a low drive from beyond 35 yards that dipped away from goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and inside the right post.
  • But the Crew scored the winner 13 minutes into the second half. Federico HiguaÌn sent in a curling free kick from the left that surprised United 'keeper Hamid and caused him to spill it. A half-clearance fell to Ben Speas, who hammered home an open shot from the edge of the 18-yard box for his first career MLS goal.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. Eddie Gaven came back into the team in place of Jairo Arrieta.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl - Danny O'Rourke, Agustin Viana (Matias Sanchez 90) - Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuain (Tony Tchani 90), Ben Speas (Ethan Finlay 88) - Dominic Oduro.

TEAM NEWS

  • With both goals coming from free kicks, the Crew have now scored four of their seven goals this season from set pieces, by far the most in the league (no other team has scored more than two). A year ago, the Crew scored eight times from standard situations, well off the league-leading pace set by San Jose with 19.
  • "It's good that we have goals from different people," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said. "Our set-pieces are very good. People are making good runs and we have good service. We're going to be one of the teams that gets a lot of goals off set-pieces. Scoring seven goals in the first four games is good. It means we're creating chances. The goals are different; we can hurt teams in different ways."
  • Fullback Josh Williams scored his second goal of the season, and leads the Crew with his two goals on the campaign.
  • "I told everybody I was looking to go for the Golden Boot this year," Williams said. "I'm just happy to contribute on the offensive end. I'm definitely going to rub it in to the forwards a little bit, as long as I can hold onto it as much as I can."
  • After recording his first assist in his first start of the season vs. Vancouver, Ben Speas scored his first career goal vs. D.C. United.
  • "I was just trying to be effective, help the team out. I know the chances will come, in terms of in front of the goal and stuff. Itís just a matter of being ready when your chances come in front of the goal and I got a couple in the first half and I thought I could [have] done a little more better and in the second half. I just wanted to strike through it and it went in,î said Speas.
  • Said Warzycha: "I think he was rewarded today for a good performance and in previous games too. I think heís very opportunistic. I think heís very dangerous around the box and obviously that finish was very clean.î
  • With Jairo Arrieta away on national team duty, Dominic Oduro moved forward to the spearhead attacking role with Eddie Gaven returning to the first XI for the first time since opening day.
  • A starter all season at left back after being obtained over the offseason from Colorado, Tyson Wahl recorded his first assist with the Crew, and the fifth over his eight-year MLS career.
  • "I think thatís what he was doing for the other teams he was playing for and we knew that heís capable of crossing the ball. That was a great assist and it was a good ball," said Warzycha.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union saw their two-game winning streak come to an end, dropping a 2-1 decision to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Union sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 6 points from 4 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls broke through in the 55th minute. Jonny Steele whipped in a ball from the left side and a swiveling Dax McCarty managed to flick it past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and off the far post with the outside of his boot despite being tightly marked.
  • But seconds after entering the game as a substitute, Conor Casey struck for the leveller. He got onto the end of a long throw-in from Sheanon Williams and headed the ball in from close range for his goal with Philadelphia.
  • The winner came in the 81st minute through a touch of sheer class. Thierry Henry brought down a delicate pass from Peguy Luyindula with his thigh before beating MacMath with a smooth left-footed strike from inside the area.
  • Union team manager John Hackworth made one change to the team that recorded a 1-0 victory against the New England Revolution. Michael Lahoud came into the side in place of Keon Daniel.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-1-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis - Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 61), Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan - Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 61) - Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 80).

TEAM NEWS

  • Union lost for the first time since their season-opening 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, and lost for the first time this season away from PPL Park, after a 2-1 win at Colorado.
  • "We can play better,î Union manager John Hackworth said. ìWe did what needed to do in the first half. But we didnít execute the way weíre capable of at all. And thatís really frustrating. And then to give the game away the way with less than 10 minutes to play and thinking weíd get a point ñ obviously we were going for [the win].î
  • Conor Casey made his first appearance since a six-minute stint in the opening match on March 2, overcoming a nagging hamstring injury to come on for the final half-hour. Just minutes after making his appearance, he netted his first goal for Union.
  • "Thatís his first real minutes since opening day,î Hackworth said. ìTo have him back, he gives us a different dimension. We struggled holding the ball up all day, so to have him in there is good. Heís able to do that.î
  • Said Casey: ìItís always great to get the first goal for your club, the first goal of the season, the first goal in a long time Ö Iíll carry that with me for the next week or so. But at the end of the day, we wanted to win the game.î
  • With the loss, Union are now 0-5-0 all-time at Red Bull Arena in four league games and one U.S. Open Cup match.
  • "I feel like it's going to come," said Amobi Okugo. "We've had chances. Today we had a good chance to at least get a tie but we didn't do that. We lost focus for a little bit, and hopefully, when we (come back to Red Bull Arena on Aug. 17), we can get a result then.î
  • World Cup winner Jose Kleberson joined the club during the week and began full training with the team.
  • "His acclimation is not going to be an overnight thing,î said technical director Rob Vartughian. ìThere are a lot of things that come with playing in a new league and alongside and against new players ... those things all take time. We thought he had a good first day with us.î