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Set-piece goals suddenly a sore spot for struggling Crew

OBETZ, Ohio — The New York Red Bulls may have found the team to help end their defensive woes on set-pieces.

The Red Bulls — who have allowed six of their last nine goals from free kicks — take on a Columbus Crew team that is the only side in MLS this season that has not scored from a set-piece this season. Consider that the Crew were among the league’s best at scoring on free kicks from 2007-10 (39 goals total), and the team is left hoping for a change against New York on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live).

"Columbus has a history of scoring on set-pieces,” Crew rookie forward Justin Meram said. “Hopefully we’ll get one.”

Eddie Gaven has handled most of the duties without success this season, although coach Robert Warzycha does not blame his midfielder.

“The service has been pretty good, to be honest with you,” he said. “We’re putting the ball where we’re supposed to.”

Warzycha attributed the combination of poor runs and the double-teaming of Chad Marshall to the Crew failing to score on 56 corner kicks.

“It’s a combination of everything. We probably need a little better balls, little better runs and a little bit of luck,” Marshall said. “It’s not like we’re not trying to score.”

Warzycha went as far as inserting 6-foot-5 center back Andy Iro as a striker in the third minute of stoppage against Chivas USA last weekend to try to capitalize from set-piece opportunities. The ploy didn’t work, and the Crew walked away with a 3-3 draw and one more week to worry how to fix their current situation.

 “We’ve got to be stronger in the box,” Marshall said. “That’s what it’s all about.”