Preview: DC try to keep Crew from digging into top five
D.C. UNITED vs COLUMBUS CREW
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
August 4, 2012 (WEEK 22, MLS Game #209)
7:30 p.m. ET (CSN-MA; FS-OH)
D.C. United return to league play when they meet the Columbus Crew for the second time in three weeks in a vital contest for both clubs in the Eastern Conference, at RFK Stadium on Saturday evening. United are coming off a two-game month of July, both defeats, and now sit in fourth place in the East. The Crew find themselves four points out of the final playoff spot in the conference, starting their road trip with a 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): C.J. Morgante; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Juan Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 6 games; FC/gm: 22.2; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 1; pens: 1
- D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Robbie Russell (L plantar fasciitis)
- COLUMBUS CREW -- OUT: FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); MF Kirk Urso (R adductor tendonitis); DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); MF Bernardo Anor (L knee ACL tear); DF Nenamja Vukovic (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain); MF Milovan Mirosevic (L adductor strain); PROBABLE: DF Chad Marshall (R ankle impingment)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DC: Andy Najar (Honduras; Olympic Games)
SUSPENDED: CLB: Cole Grossman (through Aug. 5)
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Sebastian Miranda … DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic
ALL-TIME (52 meetings): United 23 wins (5 shootout), 76 goals … Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 74 goals … Ties 8
AT RFK STADIUM (25 meetings): United 16 wins (3 shootout), 52 goals … Crew 6 wins (0 shootout), 34 goals … Ties 3
FUTURE MATCH: 10/20: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET
- It’s the second meeting between the teams, the first a 1-0 Columbus victory at Crew Stadium on July 21, the game’s only goal scored by Chris Birchall in the opening minute of the second half.
- The two teams split their two meetings last season, each winning at home. The Crew haven’t lost in Columbus to D.C. United since 2007, a span of five matches (4-0-1).
- The Crew have come away with the full points on three of their last five trips to RFK Stadium, since 2007.
- Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CLB: P4 W1 L3 T0 … Robert Warzycha vs. DC: P9 W7 L2 T0
LAST MEETING (MLS):
7/21: CLB 1, DC 0 (Birchall 46)
- The Crew hit for the game's lone goal a minute after the halftime break. From the midfield stripe, Jairo Arrieta held off a challenge and slipped the ball through to Chris Birchall off a well-timed run. Birchall dribbled into the left side of the box and connected on a low left-footed strike from 10 yards out.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Carlos Mendes, Chad Marshall (Julius James 76), Josh Williams - Chris Birchall, Cole Grossman - Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka (Ethan Finlay 74), Justin Meram - Jairo Arrieta (Eric Gehrig 89).
- D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Joe Willis - Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Nick DeLeon (Josh Wolff 76), Lewis Neal (Maicon Santos 65), Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius - Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi (Long Tan 72)
D.C. United return to action after a week off from league play, their last match the 1-0 loss in Columbus on July 21. United are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points from 20 games.
- United head coach Ben Olsen made five changes to the team that fell to a 4-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Joe Willis came in between the posts for Bill Hamid, Robbie Russell came into the back four for Chris Korb, Nick DeLeon and Lewis Neal started in midfield for Danny Cruz and Branko Boskovic, and Hamdi Salihi replaced Maicon Santos up top.
- “We’re going to go through a tough patch. It is two games in a row that we have lost. Both games have been away. It’s still not easy to win in this league, no matter who you play and no matter where they are at in the standings,” said Olsen.
- “We dug in deep late, but it’s easy to dig in deep late and throw caution into the wind, but we need to dig in early and make sure that playing hungry and desperate, even when you’re in the top half of the standings, it is important. Until we realize that, we’re going to continue to give up points.”United have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time this season, and the first since last July 16-20.
- After the 3-0 win against Montréal on the final day of June, United sat in first place in the Eastern Conference. They have played just two league games since – and now come into August in fourth place in the division, five points clear of Columbus for the final playoff spot (with fifth-place Chicago just a point back).
- “Hopefully guys didn’t get complacent because you can see how fast things turn around in this league,” said midfielder Chris Pontius. “We went from first to fourth in a week or so. There’s no reason to have any cockiness, any complacency, we haven’t made the playoffs in four years.
HIGHLIGHTS: DC 0, HOU 4
- ”Added Dwayne De Rosario: “A win, and we are right back in it, two wins and we are back to the top. Definitely disappointing the last two games, disappointing month of July for us. We’ve pretty much played our last game of the month and two losses back-to-back are not ideal.”
- Long Tan made his United debut, coming on for the final 18 minutes for Hamdi Salihi, who was making his first start since June 24.
- “Hamdi’s obviously a guy in the box that is very clinical," Olsen said. "Maicon’s got the brawn and can physically do special things and Tan, he’s a runner, a slasher. And he keeps defenders on their toes at all times.
- Lewis Neal made his first start since May 16, again playing in the center of midfield, partnering Perry Kitchen.
- “I’m mixing up guys all the time," Olsen said. "We still haven’t narrowed down our starting 11 after all this. It’s a good and bad thing. I think it’s good in a sense that we’ve got a lot of options and it’s bad because eventually, you do want to get that 11 down and work with it consistently.”
- Goalkeeper Joe Willis made his first start since May 2, after Bill Hamid was sent off in the second half in Houston.
- On their weekend away from league play, United played host to Paris Saint-Germain of France’s Ligue 1, the clubs reaching a 1-1 draw. On his PSG debut, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored after just three minutes, but De Rosario converted a penalty later in the first half for the leveler.
- Here’s the United team: Bill Hamid (Joe Willis 71) - Emiliano Dudar, Daniel Woolard, Dejan Jakovic (Brandon McDonald 46), Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen (Marcelo Saragosa 80), Branko Boskovic (Lewis Neal 46), Nick DeLeon (Hamdi Salihi 75), Dwayne De Rosario (Maicon Santos 46), Chris Pontius (Josh Wolff 67), Long Tan (Danny Cruz 67)
- “It’s a great experience for all of us. We were definitely very excited to get out there coming off two losses in the league,” said midfielder Perry Kitchen. “We were trying to come out and get a win. I think we played well.”
The Columbus Crew started their road swing with a second consecutive victory, a 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Crew sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points from 19 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 1, CLB 2
- The home side opened the scoring in the eighth minute on a textbook set piece. Graham Zusi sent in a long free kick, and Kei Kamara leaped and headed it past Andy Gruenebaum from the center of the box.
- But the Crew equalized in the 17th minute through new arrival Jairo Arrieta after a nice through ball from Josh Williams. Arrieta took the pass in the penalty area, shrugged off Lawrence Olum’s attempted tackle and fired past Jimmy Nielsen from 12 yards.
- Then in the 34th minute, Arrieta corralled Zusi’s errant back pass in space in Columbus’ attacking third and sent a blast in from distance to make it 2-1.
- Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made no changes to the team that defeated D.C. United 1-0 at Crew Stadium.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Carlos Mendes, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams - Chris Birchall, Cole Grossman (sent off 95+) - Justin Meram (Ethan Finlay 72), Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka (Tony Tchani 84) - Jairo Arrieta (Julius James 98+).
- Making his third consecutive start since coming to the club, Jairo Arrieta scored his first two MLS goals, coming after recording his first MLS assist in the first game with D.C. United.
- He scored a lot of goals in the Costa Rican league and the league here is a little bit different,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “Maybe the speed of play is different so it was adjustment time, but I think he is a good player and he finished very well. Especially on the first one, that was a tough finish but I think he did very well.”
- Said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum: “It’s tough to come into a new environment and play games right off the bat. [Arrieta has] done a great job. He’s made an impact in the last two games. It’s a great addition to have someone like him who can finish.”
- Emilio Rentería did not figure for a second consecutive match, along with Olman Vargas. Vargas has made two appearances totaling 25 minutes since his last start, May 19 vs. San Jose.
- “There was competition between [Vargas] and Emilio and then Arrieta and Schoenfeld,” said Warzycha. “Whoever holds the ball, whoever helps the team and creates more chances is going to play. It’s as simple as that. … If Emilio finished his chances, he’d probably have 20 goals right now.
- ”With Nemanja Vukovic sidelined for a third match, Josh Williams again reprised his role at left back. There was a concern when Williams went down late in the match with an ankle knock. “I thought, ‘Who’s going take my spot?’” Williams said. “I didn’t see anybody so I had to get up.”
- On Friday, the Crew announced the signing of striker Federico Higuain as a Designated Player. Higuian played the last two seasons with Atlético Colón in his homeland of Argentina, also having played for Club América in Mexico.
- “We promised the fans we would get a DP,” Warzycha said. “We’re sorry we couldn’t get it done sooner, but we had to get the right one. We could have tried to sign somebody else, but he is the player we wanted, the one that gets us excited and should get the fans excited.”
- Higuain is not expected to be available before next week, when the Crew play Toronto FC (Aug. 11) and the LA Galaxy (Aug. 15).
- “We don’t have the combinations between two forwards,” Warzycha said. “That’s what we’re looking for to be successful.”
- The visit to the nation’s capital concludes a two-game road swing, the last time this season the Crew will have back-to-back road games.
- “It’s huge to get a win on the road and get a little revenge. We did the same thing to them that they did to us two weeks ago,” said defender Chad Marshall. “It was nice to come here and get our three points back and keep going on this nice little run we are having. Hopefully we can keep it going.”