Match Preview: Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City

The Columbus Crew are looking to extend their unbeaten run when they play host to the Sporting Kansas City road show when the clubs meet Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. After a First Kick loss, the Crew are undefeated in three, last a scoreless draw at Chivas USA. Sporting are returning to action after a weekend off, their last match a remarkable 3-3 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

REFEREE: Juan Guzman. SAR (bench): Ian Anderson; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Baldomero Toledo. MLS Career: First game.

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: DF Shaun Francis (L hamstring strain); MF Danny O'Rourke (L knee surgery) … SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); DF Chance Myers (L adductor strain); FW Omar Bravo (sports hernia); MF Luke Sassano (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Ryan Smith (L knee inflamation); PROBABLE: MF Graham Zusi (R knee sprain); DF Julio Cesar (R hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (41 meetings): Crew 19 wins (0 shootout), 70 goals … Sporting 17 wins (2 shootout), 62 goals … Ties 5

AT COLUMBUS (22 meetings): Crew 11 wins (0 shootout), 37 goals … Sporting 8 wins (1 shootout), 32 goals … Ties 3

RETURN MATCH: 9/28: Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew, 6:30 p.m. CT

LAST YEAR (MLS):

  • 5/23: KC 0, CLB 1 (Renteria 64)
  • 7/14: CLB 0, KC 1 (Bunbury 14)
  • The road team won both meetings between the clubs last season. Kansas City won for the first time in Columbus since 2006; the Crew have won their last three league games at Kansas City.
  • Kansas City’s victory last July 14 was its first against Columbus since a 3-2 win Sept. 15, 2007, at Arrowhead Stadium. The Crew won five of the six intervening games (with one draw).
  • K.C. concludes its CommunityAmerica Ballpark history against Columbus with three losses in three games there.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha v KC: P6 W5 L1 T0 … Peter Vermes vs. CLB: P2 W1 L1 T0

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten streak to three matches, reaching a scoreless draw with Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Crew have 5 points from 4 games on the season, in a four-way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Each goalkeeper made two saves, saving the best for late in the match. In the 74th minute, Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy tipped aside Eddie Gaven's breakaway chance at full stretch.
  • Chivas USA nearly took the lead five minutes later, but Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer was well positioned to stop Nick LaBrocca free chance. Hesmer later stopped a last-minute header from Chivas defender Heath Pearce.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that defeated FC Dallas 2-0 at Crew Stadium. Emilio Renteria came in at striker in place of Andres Mendoza.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Rich Balchan - Kevin Burns, Dejan Rusmir - Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo (Dilly Duka 72), Robbie Rogers – Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 78)

TEAM NEWS

  • William Hesmer has not allowed a goal in three games and 283 minutes for the Crew, 90 minutes shy of the club record.
  • “When you talk about three shutouts you have to talk about team defending,” Hesmer said. “We are in the right spots. We are doing a good job on the one-on-ones. Our shape is pretty good. We have some new guys in the back and they’re stepping up. I don’t think the last three games Chivas, Dallas and New York had any clear chances.”
  • The Crew played to their second scoreless draw in three games in the tie at Chivas USA. The three consecutive shutouts are also one shy of the club record.
  • “We’ve got three new guys in the back,” Hesmer said. “To have it already clicking is impressive. It goes a lot to our communication and our coaching staff. Collectively, we’ve done a whole lot better since the D.C. game in making it tough in the midfield, winning the ball in the right places, not giving it away in the bad places. We’ve made it a lot easier on ourselves.”
  • A significant change just before the start of the season was the insertion of Julius James into central defense in place of the then-injured Andy Iro.
  • “[James] or Iro can step in and do a great job,” Hesmer said. “We have the luxury of playing either one of them. He was a great pick up by our front office.”
  • The last three times the Crew posted three consecutive shutouts, they suffered a loss in the fourth game on each occasion: a 1-0 loss at New York in 2009, a 2-1 defeat at Chivas USA in 2007 and a 3-1 reversal at New England in 2005.
  • Of the Crew’s three goals on the season, two have come from the penalty spot. “I’m happy about the shutout, but I want the goals and a win,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We had some chances in the second and we should have scored a couple of goals. I know the last few years we haven’t been successful here, so the point is important.”

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City return to league action after a weekend off, their last match a wild 3-3 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 2 at Empire Field. Sporting have 4 points from 3 matches on the season, sitting in a three-way for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Just before the halftime whistle, Bunbury opened the scoring, drilling a shot into the top corner from just outside the area.
  • Kansas City doubled their lead on 58 minutes with Milos Stojcev pulling the strings, finding Bunbury cutting in on goal for his second of the match. Five minutes later it was 3-0, as a C.J. Sapong cross found a wide open Kei Kamara in the box for a simple finish.
  • Whitecaps FC finally began to show signs of life in the second half when substitute Nizar Khalfan sped down the left flank and bounced a cross off Harris a yard from goal to cut the deficit to 3-1.
  • The ‘Caps made it a tight finish early in stoppage time when substitute Davide Chiumiento broke down the right and cut it back for Camilo to thump home. Barely 90 seconds later, the Whitecaps leveled with Camilo the hero, heading home a cross from Khalfan.
  • SKC boss Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that defeated Chivas USA 3-2 at The Home Depot Center. Michael Harrington came into the back four for Luke Sassano, Birahim Diop into the midfield for Craig Rocastle, and Omar Bravo started up top for Teal Bunbury.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Julio Cesar (Shavar Thomas 82),Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza - Birahim Diop - Davy Arnaud (Stephane Auvray 76), Milos Stojcev (Craig Rocastle 90) - Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong.

TEAM NEWS

  • After their remarkable 3-3 tie at Vancouver in their last match, Sporting Kansas City lead MLS in both average goals scored per game – and allowed – with 2.67 each after three games (eight scored, eight conceded).
  • “We, as a team and as a group, have to take a lot of pride in keeping the ball out of the back of our net,” Davy [inline_node:333000]Arnaud said. “That’s not just a goalkeeper thing or back four thing. That’s 11 guys on the field.”
  • Teal Bunbury raised his season haul to three goals with the brace in Vancouver – which came amidst boos from a pro-Canadian crowd, after Bunbury chose to play for the USA internationally ahead of Canada.
  • “I was expecting them to boo me and say whatever,” Bunbury said. “I try to do my thing wherever I’m playing.
  • Scoring those goals would have felt the same if I was scoring them anywhere else.”
  • Mexican international Omar Bravo, who scored twice in his MLS debut, will be out 3-6 weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia injury. “It flared up on him,” Vermes said, “and after a MRI we saw it was a tell-tale sign that he has something that needs to be taken care of.”
  • While Sporting had last weekend off from league play, they did advance in the U.S. Open Cup just three days after the draw in Vancouver. C.J. Sapong’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time led to a 1-0 win against the Houston Dynamo in College Station, Texas.
  • “To me, it was a huge result for us,” manager Peter Vermes said. “The reason being [is] the guys’ reaction from the last game. For them, the whole thing was to make sure that we don’t give up any goals and then be able to lock the game down.”