Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo | MLS Match Preview

COLUMBUS CREW vs HOUSTON DYNAMO
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 4, 2013 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #251)
7:30 p.m. ET (FS-OH; CSN-Hou/KTBU)

The Columbus Crew begin a new era at midweek when they play host to the Houston Dynamo at Crew Stadium. With Brian Bliss now in charge of the bench coaching duties, the Crew are eight points out of the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference following their 1-0 home win to Seattle at the weekend. The Dynamo are also in need of points, tied for fifth place in the division and the final postseason spot, after their 1-1 draw at Chicago to start their road swing.

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REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Chris Penso
MLS Career: 154 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 32; pens: 45

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: CLB: Federico Higuain (through Sept. 4); Danny O’Rourke (caution accumulation; through Sept. 4)
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: HOU: Andrew Driver, Boniek Garcia
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Jairo Arrieta, Tyson Wahl, Kevan George, Bernardo Anor, Dominic Oduro, Agustin Viana … HOU: Corey Ashe, Adam Moffat
  • INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: HOU: Boniek García (Honduras), Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Crew 4 wins, 21 goals … Dynamo 3 wins, 19 goals … Ties 9
  • AT COLUMBUS (8 meetings): Crew 3 wins, 13 goals … Dynamo 1 win, 9 goals … Ties 4

2013 (MLS):
6/1: CLB 1, HOU 1 (Higuain 69 – Creavalle 31)
8/3: HOU 3, CLB 1 (Davis 10; Bruin 31; Weaver 85 – own goal 75)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Brad Davis, Will Bruin and Cam Weaver all scored for the Dynamo in a 3-1 win Aug. 3 at BBVA Compass Stadium; the teams played to a 1-1 draw June 1 in Houston as the Dynamo’s Warren Creavalle and Federico Higuain of Columbus traded goals.
  • The Dynamo win snapped a nine-game Crew unbeaten streak against the Dynamo. Houston had last defeated the Crew on Aug. 2, 2008; the teams had played to four consecutive draws.
  • It also snapped a four-game winless streak at home for the Dynamo vs. the Crew. Columbus had taken points from six of seven visits there all-time; the Dynamo’s only previous home win in the series came in 2008.
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. CLB: P20 W5 L6 T9 … Brian Bliss vs. HOU: first game

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • The Dynamo were on top after just 10 minutes. Giles Barnes was brought down from behind by Columbus center back after bursting into the box, and referee Kevin Stott pointed to the spot. Brad Davis converted the penalty for the opener past goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
  • It was 2-0 in the 31st minute. After Boniek Garcia fleeced a defender at midfield, he found Will Bruin making a run in the box. After taking two touches, Bruin struck from the top of the box and hit the back of the net behind Lampson.
  • The Crew were given a lifeline in the 75th minute. As Ryan Finley received a pass in the center of the box, Dynamo fullback Kofi Sarkodie knocked it away but succeeded only in stabbing it into his own goal.
  • But the home side sealed the victory in the 85th minute, when Cam Weaver took a layoff from Bruin just outside the box and hammered a rocket with the outside of his foot that sailed into the corner.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-2-3-1): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Adam Moffat, Ricardo Clark (Warren Creavalle 51) - Boniek Garcia, Giles Barnes (Cam Weaver 81), Brad Davis (Jason Johnson 78) - Will Bruin.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Matt Lampson - Josh Williams, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana (Justin Meram 71) - Wil Trapp, Matias Sanchez (Kevan George 46) - Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuain, Bernardo Anor - Jairo Arrieta (Ryan Finley 46).

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew suffered their second consecutive shutout defeat, falling 1-0 to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 29 points from 26 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Kickoff was delayed some two hours because of thunderstorms, then after just seven minutes, Sounders FC were a man down when defender Leo Gonzalez was shown a red card by referee Ismail Elfath after pulling down Crew forward Ryan Finley as he broke away toward goal just past the halfway line.
  • But Sounders FC scored the game's only goal just seven minutes later, when Mauro Rosales swung in a free kick from the right flank that found the head of Eddie Johnson, and he nodded home the opener.

  • Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was credited with three saves on the night, including a save on Dominic Oduro from close range with 10 minutes to secure the full three points.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made three changes to the team that fell 4-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram and Ryan Finley all came into the side in place of Chad Barson, Ben Speas and the suspended Federico Higuain.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): Matt Lampson - Josh Williams, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana (Konrad Warzycha 61) - Wil Trapp - Dominic Oduro, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Ethan Finlay 73) - Jairo Arrieta, Ryan Finley.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Seattle match was the final one in charge for head coach Robert Warzycha, who was dismissed from his responsibilities on Monday morning. Warzycha, who has been with the club since the inaugural season of 1996, took over as head coach before the start of the 2009 season.
  • “I have been intently following this team since mid-April when we decided to explore the possibility of acquiring the Crew,” new Crew investor/operator Andrew Precourt said. “When we came to the conclusion that we were not going to retain Robert beyond this season, it was apparent that we needed to make this change now so that we can refocus the club around Brian’s leadership for the remainder of this season, as well as get the process started on finding a new head coach.”
  • Technical director Brian Bliss will take over the bench coaching duties on an interim basis while a full-time replacement is sought.
  • “Sometimes in these situations a fresh perspective and a new voice are needed,” said Bliss. “I’m confident in our players and the talent on our roster. I know these guys have a lot of fight in them, and they have the desire to continue battling and finish strong. Our fans deserve to see the best out of this team, and I plan to do what’s necessary to make that happen.”
  • The Crew were shut out at the attacking end for a second consecutive match for the second time this season, also blanked May 4-11. They have gone 203 minutes without scoring a goal.
  • “Sometimes it's tough to play games like this because you think that when you're a man up, you don't have to work so hard,” Warzycha said. “You assume everything is going to be given. Well, you get punished.”
  • The Crew did set a new season-high with 24 total attempts at goal. “We were not playing smart. If everyone wanted to score a goal that would usually happen,” said Warzycha. “Playing a man up, everyone wants to take a chance and score a goal and they miss a guy who probably is in a better spot. We had some chances where we could have scored. The one on the crossbar. Dominic [Oduro] had a chance. Those are chances where we need to score. Simple as that.”
  • The Crew were without playmaker Federico Higuaín as he served the first of his two-game suspension. Higuaín has scored each of the Crew’s last four goals.
  • Midfielders Bernardo Anor and Justin Meram both returned to the lineup after a one-match absence to injury. Meram was suffering from a back ailment while Anor had a hamstring injury as neither made the trip to Real Salt Lake.
  • “You are pushing for the goal right away, especially when they score, so the whole dynamic of the game changes. You are pushing forward the whole game instead of keeping it and moving it side to side,” Meram said. “It is not as easy as some people think. … I think in a couple of chances if we had made a smarter pass, we could have been successful, but guys are tying their hardest out there.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo came back for a point on the second game of their road swing, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Dynamo are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 37 points from 25 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire were handed the lead in the 37th minute when Mike Magee sent a service that found its way past Jeff Larentowicz and deflected off Houston center back Bobby Boswell's head past goalkeeper Tally Hall.
  • But the Dynamo were able to level terms as the clock turned over to 90 minutes. Adam Moffat took a clever backheel from Corey Ashe on the left side of the area and ripped a laser into the far upper corner for the equalizer.

  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that fell 5-0 to the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Eric Brunner came into the back four for Corey Ashe, and Warren Creavalle started in midfield in place of Andrew Driver.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-1-3-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Eric Brunner (Corey Ashe 43), Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor - Adam Moffat - Boniek Garcia, Warren Creavalle (Cam Weaver 66), Brad Davis - Will Bruin, Giles Barnes (Andrew Driver 77).

TEAM NEWS

  • The game was the second on a three-game road trip for the Dynamo, which concludes in Columbus. The Dynamo have taken one of a possible six points on the trip, stopping a two-game losing run on the road with the draw.
  • “It’s a busy week for us with our Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday coming up, and a big game in Columbus on that Wednesday … so we want to remain consistent,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We want to drive home and reinforce why we’ve been successful and remind ourselves what is not working for us.  If we can put those all together, get the bad out of the way, it makes for a complete performance.”
  • Adam Moffat scored his third goal of the season, all since July 13, when he scored twice from well outside the penalty area in a win vs. New England.
  • “I feel like when Adam gets that ball that’s a goal,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “I’ve taken enough shots from him in training that I don’t envy any goalkeeper on the receiving end of that shot.”
  • Ashe collected his second assist of the season, both coming within the last six matches.
  • “[The ball] was well struck by [Moffat]. I was trying to push the pace towards the end since we were down a goal and try to capitalize on the fact that some of their guys weren’t being honest defensively so I wanted to take advantage of that and fortunately I saw Moffat at the last second and rolled it back to him and he did the rest,” Ashe said.
  • Hall was credited with seven saves, allowing one goal in the game for the sixth time in the last seven matches. The Crew took a season-high 24 total attempts at goal.
  • “They put us under pressure. They scored a goal on a set piece, and that’s something we need to work on and get tighter. We’ve allowed too many goals this year on set pieces,” said Brad Davis. “We need a little fire lit under us, came in here at halftime and had a good chat, and came out with the right attitude.  I felt that the second half showed a team that is fighting.”
  • For the first time in 23 league appearances this season, Ashe came off the substitutes’ bench, with Eric Brunner starting in central defense and Jermaine Taylor moving to left back. But there was a change before halftime when Brunner suffered an ankle injury.
  • Ricardo Clark missed his second consecutive match to injury, with Warren Creavalle moving into a central midfield role.