Preview: Can reborn Crew halt Impact's sudden surge?

CLB vs. MTL, 8-31-12

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COLUMBUS CREW vs MONTRÉAL IMPACT
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
September 1, 2012 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #250)
7:30 p.m. ET (TVA; FS-OH)


A match with huge implications for the Eastern Conference playoff race is set for Saturday evening when the Columbus Crew take on the Montréal Impact at Crew Stadium. It’s a meeting of two of the hottest teams in MLS – the Crew have won three in a row after their last-gasp midweek win at Philadelphia, while the expansion Impact have won five on the trot after their 3-0 home vs. D.C. United last weekend. The teams are also tied for sixth place in the East, both two points behind D.C. United and the Chicago Fire, who currently hold the final two postseason spots in the division.

REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 27 games; FC/gm: 21.8; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 6; pens: 10

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INJURY REPORT

COLUMBUS CREW -- OUT: FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); MF Bernardo Anor (L knee ACL tear); DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); GK Andy Gruenebaum (low back strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain); MF Milovan Mirosevic (R ankle inflammation) … MONTREAL IMPACT – OUT: FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear); FW Eduardo Sebrango (L shoulder separation); MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Alessandro Nesta (R knee strain); PROBABLE: FW Sanna Nyassi (R hip flexor strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: CLB: Josh Williams (through Sept. 2).

WARNINGS

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Chris Birchall … MTL: Patrice Bernier
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Sebastian Miranda, Dilly Duka … MTL: Bernardo Corradi, Sanna Nyassi, Collen Warner

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Crew 1 win, 3 goals … Impact 1 win, 2 goals... Ties 0
  • AT COLUMBUS (1 meeting): Crew 1 win, 2 goals … Impact 0 wins, 0 goals... Ties 0
  • 2012 (MLS)
  • 3/24: CLB 2, MTL 0 (Mirosevic 30; Vargas 66)
  • 7/8: MTL 2, CLB 1 (Valentin 78; Bernier 89 – Milosevic 64)
  • The teams are meeting for the third time. Goals from Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas led the Crew to a 2-0 victory in their first meeting, March 24 at Crew Stadium. Mirosevic scored again when the clubs met July 8 at Stade Saputo, but goals from Zarek Valentin and Patrice Bernier gave the Impact a 2-1 come-from-behind win.
  • Coaches record: Jesse Marsch vs. CLB: P2 W1 L1 T0 … Robert Warzycha vs. MTL: P2 W1 L1 T0


LAST MEETING

  • The Crew took the lead in the 64th minute. From a Nemanja Vukovic corner, Milovan Milosevic put a powerful header on goal that Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts got a hand to but could not prevent from hitting the back of the net.
  • But the Impact pulled level in the 78th minute, when Sanna Nyassi fed the ball to an overlapping Zarek Valentin, and the fullback coolly slotted the ball past Andy Gruenebaum from inside the area for his first MLS goal.
  • Then in the 89th minute, Impact midfielder Justin Mapp was bundled over in the box by the Crew's Chris Birchall, leaving Patrice Bernier to convert the spot kick for the match-winner.
  • MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky - Collen Warner, Patrice Bernier - Lamar Neagle (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 71), Justin Mapp (Justin Braun 90), Sanna Nyassi - Marco Di Vaio.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Nemanja Vukovic (Bernardo Anor 81) - Chris Birchall, Kevan George, Tony Tchani, Eddie Gaven - Milovan Mirosevic (Aaron Schoenfeld 70) - Emilio Renteria (Dilly Duka 82).


COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew extended their winning streak to three games with yet another dramatic victory, scoring a stoppage-time winner for a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at PPL Park. The Crew sit in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

  • Union took the lead in the 29th minute. After Michael Farfan was taken down to draw a free kick from about 30 yards out, Carlos Valdés stepped up and hit a low shot that deflected off the wall and into the right corner of the net.
  • Columbus struck back in the 41st minute with a goal of their own from a defender, as Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath had no chance on a perfect header from Josh Williams from a free kick struck by Federico Higuaín.
  • The Crew went a man down in the 68th minute when Williams was shown a straight red card by referee Yder Reyes after getting into an off-the-ball scuffle with Union substitute Antoine Hoppenot.
  • With Union pushing forward deep into stoppage time, the Crew hit for a stunning winner. Higuaín raced forward on the counter, sliding the ball to Justin Meram on the left. He carried into the area and laid a ball across the face of goal where Eddie Gaven had the simplest of tap-ins.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that took a 4-3 win against the New England Revolution at Crew Stadium. Matt Lampson started in goal in place of Andy Gruenebaum, and Chris Birchall came into the team for the injured Carlos Mendes.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Matt Lampson - Sebastian Miranda, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams (sent off 68) - Milovan Mirosevic, Chris Birchall (Cole Grossman 84) - Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuain, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 66) - Jairo Arrieta (Julius James 72).

TEAM NEWS

  • The three-game winning streak for the Crew is their longest of the season, and the club’s longest since winning four in a row May 8-23, 2010.
  • “It wasn’t pretty. We absorbed 40, 43 minutes of pressure, but we were playing away from home,” said Danny O’Rourke. “You go a man down. We have special players like Higuain (Federico), Eddie (Gaven), and even Justin Meram coming off the bench. Hope for a goal, and that’s what they did. They came through.
  • It was the second-latest goal ever scored by the Crew to win a game. Kyle Martino scored a goal six minutes into second-half stoppage time for a 1-0 Columbus win at Los Angeles, April 22, 2006.
  • “We don’t want to have to come back, but you know that’s what happens. I think two deflection goals, two goals very unlucky,” said O’Rourke. “With the team now, we have some proven strikers that find the back of the net. We don’t panic, when we get down 1-0, 2-0. We continue to fight… Now we just have guys calm around the box, and create chances for us.”
  • Federico Higuaín continued his rich vein of form since coming to the club, assisting on both goals. Since coming to Major League Soccer, Higuaín now has three goals and four assists in four appearances.
  • “He’s a very good player and you wish that when a player comes here from another country and doesn’t speak English that he can help that quick and score goals and have assists,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “But something that quick is great for him and great for us. He’s a great player on the field and he’s getting good looks and great set pieces and looking very fluid and I’m happy with him.”
  • Defender Josh Williams scored his first professional goal to pull the Crew level. But he was then sent off, leaving the Crew shorthanded for the final quarter of the game.
  • “I lost my temper a little bit there, lost my head. If there’s cameras in here, someone’s has to be laughing at me, because I was going crazy,” said Williams. “There was a lot of ups and downs. When they had the ball, it seemed like they were right in front of the goal. I was jumping around. As soon as we scored I went nuts. It was definitely ups and downs as far as emotions go in here. So being by myself it was pretty wild.”
  • After making his Major League Soccer debut at the weekend vs. New England, Matt Lampson made his first MLS start in place of the injured Andy Gruenebaum.
  • “It was very exhausting to say the least,” goalkeeper Matt Lampson said. “To assume that much pressure, especially with 10 men on the field, is a very tiring thing. It was massive amounts of relief when Eddie scored. We needed three points and we snuck out of here with three.”


MONTREAL IMPACT
The Montréal Impact extended their winning streak to five games in impressive fashion, rolling to a 3-0 victory against D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. The Impact are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 28 matches.

LAST MATCH

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

  • The home side broke through in the 24th minute. Marco Di Vaio perfectly timed his run past the United back line to latch onto Patrice Bernier’s through pass, before curling it into the top right corner of goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s net.
  • Montreal doubled their lead soon after the break, when D.C. defender Emiliano Dudar was adjudged to have fouled Impact midfielder Collen Warner with a shoulder charge in the penalty box. Bernier converted from the spot as the Impact are a perfect nine-for-nine on penalty kicks.
  • The Impact completed the win in stoppage time as Bernier put on a deadly dribble move to beat defender Brandon McDonald in the box before finishing with the help of a deflection.
  • Impact head coach Jesse Marsch made one change to the team that came back for a 3-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes at Stade Saputo. Alessandro Nesta came into central defense in place of the suspended Hassoun Camara.
  • MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Troy Perkins - Jeb Brovsky, Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Dennis Iapichino - Collen Warner, Patrice Bernier - Davy Arnaud (Josh Gardner 90), Felipe Martins, Lamar Neagle (Andrew Wenger 69) - Marco Di Vaio (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 85).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Impact have won five consecutive games, the longest winning streak for an expansion team since the end of the shootout era. The Chicago Fire won 11 consecutive games in their expansion season of 1998 (the final seven in regulation time).
  • “I’m really happy for the players because they worked hard; they worked well and for the entire game,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “But as I said all year, it’s one game. Every time we get a win, the next game becomes that much more important.”
  • Patrice Bernier scored two goals against D.C. United while setting up the third. He has three goals in the last two games, and leads the club with nine. He became the first player for the MLS Impact to score two goals in a game.
  • “Even though we weren’t going with him at certain moments, all along we said that this is an important guy to our group,” Marsch said. “For leadership, for the soccer he brings, what it means to the club, the community, everything. Huge guy. Now that he’s really adapted, and now, we’ve changed the way we play a little bit to help him, and everything else, I think that he’s just taken off and gotten better and better.”
  • Bernier converted a penalty kick for his second goal, the ninth penalty kick scored by the Impact this season, matching the MLS record for penalty kick goals in a season set by D.C. United in 2005.
  • “When we get into the area, the ball’s at our feet,” Bernier said. “We try combination plays, and when you’re moving around, it takes half a second for a defender’s foot to block and trip you. For a lot of other teams, it’s about corners, crosses, physical duels. We’re more about combinations and movement. … I think we’re one of those teams that don’t rely on set plays that much, and we want to make open play count. We get into the box often, and when you’re there a lot, penalty kicks happen more.”
  • Marco Di Vaio scored for a second consecutive match and has three goals in his last four appearances, his first three in Major League Soccer.
  • We are playing really well right now. We are moving up in the standings and winning games and everyone is playing well. Everyone is on the same page. Marco (Di Vaio) scored another important goal. Everything is coming together right now,” said Bernier.
  • Troy Perkins recorded a second shutout in three games since coming to the Impact in a trade from the Portland Timbers.
  • “He’s a bright goalie, a sure goalie, a guy who studies everything from the angles he should take to when he should come out, how he should come out, to how he talks with the group in front of him,” Marsch said. “He’s a veteran ‘keeper that brings a real presence in terms of every aspect of being in the net. He’s helped our team, he’s fit in very well and I think he likes being here.”