Preview: Sitting atop the East, Columbus host New England

Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
7:30 p.m. ET (CSN-NE; ONN)
August 13, 2011 (WEEK 22; MLS Game 218)

Still atop the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew return home to Crew Stadium to meet the New England Revolution in a vital contest for playoff positioning. The Crew saw their two-game winning streak come to an end last weekend, a 2-0 defeat at the Colorado Rapids. The Revolution returned home off a three-game unbeaten road swing, but went down to a 3-2 loss against Chivas USA.

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REFEREE: Andrew Chapin. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 34 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 9; pens: 4

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW — OUT: GK Alex Riggs (L oblique strain); DF Josh Williams (R hip labral tear); MF Tony Tchani (R knee inflammation); DF Shaun Francis (L adductor strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Rich Balchan (L adductor strain); MF Eddie Gaven (R lower leg contusion); QUESTIONABLE: FW Emilio Renteria (L quad strain); FW Jeff Cunningham (R knee inflammation); FW Aaron Horton (L patella tendonitis); PROBABLE: GK William Hesmer (R quad strain) ... NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION — OUT: DF Franco Coria (L knee MCL sprain); FW Kheli Dube (whiplash); FW Rajko Lekic (R great toe fracture); PROBABLE: FW Alan Koger (R heel contusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Julius James
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Kevin Burns, Tommy Heinemann, Dejan Rusmir, Tony Tchani ... NE: Ryan Cochrane, Franco Coria, Rajko Lekic, Stephen McCarthy, Pat Phelan

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (52 meetings): Crew 26 wins (4 shootout), 81 goals ... Revolution 16 wins (1 shootout), 65 goals ... Ties 10
AT COLUMBUS (26 meetings): Crew 14 wins (1 shootout), 50 goals…Revolution 6 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals…Ties 6
RETURN MATCH: 10/15: New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/8: CLB 3, NE 2 (Gaven 31; own goal 35; Rogers 90 — Boggs 29,40)
9/25: NE 2, CLB 2 (Phelan 2; Joseph 56 — Lenhart 62; Barros Schelotto 80)

  • The Revolution haven't defeated Columbus at home since 2006, a 1-0 win on Oct. 14. The Crew have won three of the five meetings since in Foxborough, with two draws.
  • The Revolution have won on two of their last four trips to Crew Stadium, winning by 1-0 scorelines in both 2008 and 2009.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. NE: P6 W2 L2 D2 ... Steve Nicol v CLB: P29 W10 L10 D9

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew saw their two-game winning streak put to an end, going down to a 2-0 defeat by the Colorado Rapids on Friday evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Crew have 34 points from 24 games on the season, still leading the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids opened the scoring in the 54th minute. Brian Mullan picked up a Wells Thompson pass outside the penalty area and crushed a right-footed shot into the upper corner of the goal.
  • Then in the 79th minute, Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings finally connected, Nyassi playing in Cummings and the Jamaican international coolly finished from inside the penalty area.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium. William Hesmer returned to goal in place of Andy Gruenebaum, and Andres Mendoza started up top in place of Justin Meram.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Eddie Gaven (Bernardo Anor 7 / Justin Meram 72), Dejan Rusmir (Eric Gehrig 55), Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers - Tommy Heinemann, Andres Mendoza.

TEAM NEWS

  • After scoring goals in back-to-back matches, Eddie Gaven was forced from the field after just seven minutes against Colorado when he suffered a contusion to his Achilles tendon.
  • "Eddie's one of those guys who can change a game and obviously you don't want to lose him early," fullback Josh Gardner said.
  • Bernardo Anor came on for Gaven in a second consecutive substitute appearance, but he was removed after 65 minutes for Justin Meram.
  • "We did not have too much quality in the midfield today," Warzycha said. "We would have had more quality but Eddie was missing."
  • Gaven is not expected to be available for the New England match. "I don't expect him to play on Saturday, to be honest, as sore as he is," Warzycha said. "He's got a big bruise. It's an important game for us, but for me it's important he is healthy."
  • The Crew could have midfielder Dilly Duka to call upon, after he returned to full training during the week. He suffered a right ankle sprain on June 4. Rich Balchan could also be available, after he was injured July 2.
  • "He needs to get game fit but he looks good," Warzycha said of Duka. "We'll see after a few more days." Said Duka: "It's like preseason all over again. You don't sit out two months and come back in. It's going to take time."
  • After Bill Gruenebaum recorded back-to-back shutouts in goal for the Crew, William Hesmer returned from injury to go between the posts for the Colorado match.
  • "Defensively we did the best we could," Gardner said. "They had good movement that created problems for us, but they got one great shot by Mullan and one giveaway in the back that led to the second goal. That's really all they had."
  • The Crew have alternated between wins and losses over their last six away games. In each of the three victories, they've recorded shutouts; in each of the losses, they've failed to score.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

The New England Revolution returned home and saw their three-game unbeaten run come to an end, falling 3-2 to Chivas USA on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution have 21 points from 23 matches, in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas USA took the lead after 31 minutes. Simon Elliott sent an inch-perfect diagonal to Nick LaBrocca on the right flank, and he curled a cross into the box where Alejandro Moreno to turn home the goal with an outstretched right foot.
  • Just before the hour mark, LaBrocca fired home at the second time of asking after his initial effort deflected off defender Darrius Barnes. But the Revolution pulled a goal back when Home Grown Player Diego Fagundez drew a penalty two minutes after he took the field, and Shalrie Joseph thumped home from the spot.
  • Moreno restored the two-goal lead with 10 minutes to play, when he again tapped home from an Ante Jazic ball curled into the area. Fagundez threw the Revolution an unexpected lifeline with four minutes to play when he ghosted in to latch onto a misplayed long ball from Kevin Alston and scored his first MLS goal.
  • Revolution head coach Steve Nicol made one change to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Milton Caraglio made his MLS debut, coming into the side along with Ryan Cochrane, Sainey Nyassi and Chris Tierney as Rajko Lekic, Franco Coria and Pat Phelan were all injured and A.J. Soares suspended.
  • NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-2): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, Ryan Cochrane (Pat Phelan 81), Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney - Sainey Nyassi, Stephen McCarthy, Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber - Milton Caraglio (Kenny Mansally 62), Zack Schilawski (Diego Fagundez 66).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Revolution conceded three goals in a game for the third time in the last six contests. They had allowed three goals in a game just once in the opening 17 league games of the season — the first meeting of the year with Chivas USA.
  • "I'll always defend the players, but occasionally when your defense gives up goals like that, there's no hiding place. The goals were atrocious. And really, defensively, we let down the rest of the team tonight," Revolution head coach Steve Nicol said. "We made some great chances — fantastic chances when you think about when we should've scored — and we've lost again."
  • Making his league debut, 16-year-old Home Grown Player Diego Fagundez won a penalty kick and then scored his first professional goal in the loss to Chivas USA.
  • "We were hoping to get a spark (from Diego Fagundez). We had thoughts about playing him at some stage tonight anyway because he's been doing great in training," said Nicol. "He just likes to play, you can see his enthusiasm. It looks like he's got a footballer's brain. So it was a no-brainer to get him on. He did a fantastic job — he gets the penalty, he gets the goal: what more can you ask for?"
  • The Revolution's first Designated Player, 22-year-old Argentinean forward Milton Caraglio, made his MLS debut, starting and playing 62 minutes.
  • "Once we can get him up to speed — hopefully that will be sooner, rather than later — then you'll see a lot more from him. He can hold the ball up and bring people in. He's shown that he can score goals, as well," Nicol said. "So that's the combination we're looking for from him.
  • With Caraglio in the fold, Nicol returned to a two-striker setup for the first time in four games, pairing the newcomer with Zach Schilawski, who was making his fourth consecutive start.
  • Sharlie Joseph scored his seventh goal of the season, his fourth from the penalty spot. It's one goal shy of his MLS single-season high, set in 2009.