Preview: Crew, Dynamo look to reignite playoff ambitions
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
7:30 p.m. ET (ONN; KHOU / FSH+; watch LIVE online)
September 14, 2011 (WEEK 27; MLS Game 253)
A pair of clubs looking to reignite their playoff ambitions with a victory meet on Wednesday when the Columbus Crew play host to the Houston Dynamo at Crew Stadium. The Crew have lost back-to-back games — allowing 10 goals in the process — and now find themselves in a tie atop the Eastern Conference. The Dynamo have also dropped consecutive matches — shut out in each — and are now outside the top three automatic playoff spots in the division.
REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Steven Taylor; JAR (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 23.4; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 3; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW — OUT: MF Tony Tchani (R knee surgery); MF Eddie Gaven (R lower leg contusion); FW Emilio Renteria (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Bernardo Anor (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Andy Gruenebaum (R thumb fracture); GK Alex Riggs (concussion) ... HOUSTON DYNAMO — OUT: MF Alex Dixon (L finger fracture); DF Eddie Robinson (R quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Brian Ching (L adductor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: HOU: Carlo Costly (through Sept. 14)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Kevin Burns, Sebastian Miranda, Tommy Heinemann
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: William Hesmer, Dejan Rusmir, Tony Tchani ... HOU: Danny Cruz, Brad Davis, Hunter Freeman, Adam Moffat, Je-Vaughn Watson, Cam Weaver
ALL-TIME (11 meetings): Crew 4 wins, 13 goals ... Dynamo 2 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 5
AT COLUMBUS (5 meetings): Crew 3 wins, 8 goals ... Dynamo 1 win, 4 goals ... Ties 1
- In the first meeting this season, Bernardo Anor set up Andres Mendoza for the opener, then scored his first professional goal, leading the Crew to a 2-0 win June 18 at Robertson Stadium.
- The Dynamo haven't defeated the Crew since 2008. The Crew have won three of the last five meetings, with a pair of draws.
- This year's win was the Crew's first win ever at Robertson Stadium. But in six all-time meetings there, the Dynamo have also won just once (2-0 in 2008); the other four results have been draws.
- The Crew have won the last three meetings at Crew Stadium.
- Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. CLB: P15 W4 L6 D5 ... Robert Warzycha vs. HOU: P5 W3 L0 D2
LAST MEETING (MLS)
7/10: HOU 0, CLB 2 (Mendoza 41; Anor 77)
- Columbus took the lead in the 41st minute when Andres Mendoza finished a Bernardo Anor through ball in the penalty area by slotting it to the left of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
- Anor then put the game away for the Crew in the 77th minute. His shot from a Justin Meram was saved by Hall, but the Dynamo 'keeper was unable to retain the deflection and Anor followed his shot with an angled effort inside the back post.
- HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Colin Clark (Danny Cruz 62), Lovel Palmer (sent off 52), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis - Will Bruin (Jason Garey 76), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 62).
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Rich Balchan - Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo (Kevin Burns 85), Bernardo Anor - Tommy Heinemann (Dejan Rusmir 93+), Andres Mendoza (Justin Meram 64).
The Columbus Crew once again shipped goals in a heavy defeat, falling 4-2 to Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew have 40 points from 27 games on the season, still in the lead in the Eastern Conference though tied with Sporting Kansas City.
- Toronto FC took the lead in the 21st minute when a corner kick was headed out of the area by Crew defender Josh Gardner, but only as far as Torsten Frings, who cracked a 25-yard shot into the center of the box. The ball found Nick Soolsma in the mixer and he turned and quickly fired home.
- TFC then doubled their lead just before the break, when Joao Plata sent in a looping ball from the left flank than Ryan Johnson headed back across goal inside the left post.
- The Crew drew a goal back in the 67th minute after substitute Tommy Heinemann finished a quality combination play, turning home a low centering pass from Robbie Rogers past substitute 'keeper Milos Kocic. But Julian de Guzman restored the advantage in the 83rd minute, latching onto a loose ball and sending a low shot to the back of the net from outside the area.
- Columbus again cut down the lead when Andres Mendoza hammered a rising shot into the goal from the top of the area, but TFC sealed the win in stoppage time when Danny Koevermans rounded goalkeeper William Hesmer well out of his area and curled the ball into an empty net.
- Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that lost 6-2 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Julius James came back from suspension, coming into the team for Kevin Burns.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Rich Balchan (Kevin Burns 80) - Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 74), Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers - Andres Mendoza, Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 66).
- The Crew have conceded 10 goals in their last two games — the 4-2 loss to Toronto FC following a 6-2 defeat by Seattle Sounders FC. The Crew had allowed 10 goals total in their previous 13 league games, dating back to June 8, a period in which they won eight times.
- "We've given up 10 goals in the last two games and we need to look into how we've been playing and how we're defending and what we're doing on the field. Basically we gave Seattle some easy goals and today we did the same," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.
- The Crew have never before in club history allowed 10 goals over a two-game stretch. The most previously was nine — which occurred in the inaugural season of 1996, in a 5-2 loss to D.C. United and a 4-2 loss to Colorado.
- "Ten goals in two games, it honestly makes me sick and makes me want to go to Obetz right now and train. It's a lot of things. It's not just our back four, it's not just or midfielders, it's not just our forwards, it's all of us," said goalkeeper William Hesmer.
- While the Crew dropped into a tie with Sporting Kansas City after the loss to TFC, and despite having a negative goal differential, they still hold onto the top spot in the division as a result of their head-to-head results with KC.
- "Any game in this league is tough especially late in the season, whether it's the first team or the last team. Sometimes playing the last-place team's even harder because those guys are fighting for their jobs, so you've got to be prepared for those fights, and we weren't," said goalkeeper William Hesmer.
- After coming off the bench for the final quarter of the match, his third consecutive substitute appearance, Tommy Heinemann was involved in both Crew goals with a goal and an assist. It was the first time in his MLS career he's had a goal and an assist in the same game.
- "The flank play in the second half was very good. We had some good passing and a lot of attacking play was very good, so that's very positive," said Warzycha. "We gave up four goals but I don't think you can blame Chad Marshall and [Julius] James for those goals, so that's very positive too."
- Robbie Rogers continued his return to form, recording his fifth assist in the last six games. His six assists this season are a new career single-season high.
- Forward Emilio Renter"a suffered a concussion in a 65th-minute collision with Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei that forced both from the match, and is expected to be out for Wednesday's match.
The Houston Dynamo went down to a second consecutive shutout defeat, this time a 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Dynamo have 35 points from 28 games on the season, now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
- Sporting opened the scoring after just nine minutes. Graham Zusi sent a long ball from his own half up the center channel, and a streaking Teal Bunbury raced past a Dynamo defender and poked it past a charging Tally Hall guarding the goal.
- SKC then doubled their lead in the 73rd minute through similar circumstances. Julio Cesar sent a brilliant, driven ball that split the Houston defense and Bunbury again raced onto the end of it, sending a left-footed finish that Hall got a hand on but couldn't keep out.
- The Dynamo went down a man when Carlo Costly was sent off by referee Mark Geiger for a clattering tackle on Chance Myers in the 64th minute.
- The Sky Blues then tripled the lead six minutes later. Graham Zusi played Kei Kamara into space on the right flank, and he slid a ball across the top of the six-yard box where C.J. Sapong came sliding in to put the ball into the back of the net.
- Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Empire Field. Jermaine Taylor came into central defense for the suspended Bobby Boswell.
- HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe - Colin Clark (Cam Weaver 67), Adam Moffat, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis (Luiz Camargo 81) - Brian Ching (Je-Vaughn Watson 46), Carlo Costly (sent off 64).
- The Dynamo have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time this season and have lost two in a row for the first time since early May, after their 3-0 loss Saturday at Sporting Kansas City.
- "We started out slow and we said before the game that we really need to meet their pressure and energy early on and I think we came out not doing that and paid for it," said Dynamo boss Dominic Kinnear.
- Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis made the 250th appearance of his MLS career in the loss at KC, becoming the third-youngest player in league history to reach that mark, following Kyle Beckerman and Landon Donovan. Davis is the 35th player in MLS history to play in 250 regular season games.
- Carlo Costly was making his third consecutive start and his fifth consecutive appearance against KC, but the wait for his first MLS goal will continue after he serves his suspension at midweek.
- "After the red card we were chasing the game. We were chasing the game anyway coming out at halftime,"said Kinnear. "I thought we had a good chance at the beginning of the second half. We had some good possession, some good play and then the red card completely changes it and turns it upside down."
- Sporting Kansas City moved into a tie atop the Eastern Conference with the win, and the Dynamo fell out of the top three automatic playoff spots with the defeats. They face the other co-leader for a second encounter in four days' time.
- "We have to let this one go. We have a game on Wednesday against Columbus, another team that's on top of the conference. We need to go there and look to pick up three points," said Davis. "We're disappointed in this game, but we're still in the playoff hunt. We still have to keep plugging away."
- Luiz Camargo made his Dynamo league debut, coming on for the final nine minutes in Kansas City.
- Brian Ching was removed from the KC game at halftime, replaced by Je-Vaughn Watson, but returned to full training at the start of the week. Rookie striker Will Bruin was an unused substitute for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in early August.