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Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

COLUMBUS CREW vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM, Columbus, Ohio
July 16, 2014 (WEEK 19, MLS Game #169)
7:30 p.m. ET (TWCS-OH; KMCI-38)

The Columbus Crew return home to face a major test when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew haven’t won in six league games and have won only once since opening the season with three victories, coming off a 4-1 loss at New York last weekend. Sporting have won three consecutive road tilts, remaining on the road following a late 2-1 victory at the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening.

REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Eric Weisbrod; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
Jurisevic MLS Career: 75 games; FC/gm: 22.4; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 13; pens: 11

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani … KC: Benny Feilhaber, Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Wil Trapp … KC: Antonio Dovale, Eric Kronberg, Kevin Ellis, Dom Dwyer
DISABLED LIST: KC: Peterson Joseph, Ike Opara, Chance Myers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (50 meetings): Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 77 goals … Sporting 23 wins (2 shootout), 77 goals … Ties 6
AT COLUMBUS (26 meetings): Crew 12 wins (0 shootout), 39 goals …Sporting 10 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals …Ties 4

2014 (MLS):
5/4: KC 2, CLB 0 (Peterson 10; Bieler 95+)
• The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Jacob Peterson scored early and Claudio Bieler scored late as Sporting took a 2-0 victory May 4 in Kansas City.
• Sporting have won each of the last four meetings between the teams, including all three encounters in 2013.
• The Crew have not defeated KC at home since a 1-0 win April 16, 2011. Sporting have won twice in their last three visits to Columbus, with one draw.
• Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CLB: P11 W7 L3 D1 … Gregg Berhalter vs. KC: P1 W0 L1 D0

LAST MEETING

• Sporting took the lead 10 minutes into the match. From Chance Myers' cross into the box, Paulo Nagamura's blocked shot deflected off a couple of defenders and fell to Jacob Peterson eight yards from goal. He turned on it and put it inside goalkeeper Steve Clark's left post for the opener.
• The Crew were down a man for the final 10 minutes after midfielder Wil Trapp was issued a second yellow card by referee Ismail Elfath after bringing down Sporting's Benny Feilhaber in the open field.
• The home side put the game away well into second-half stoppage time when SKC broke upfield on an odd-man rush. A half-clearance fell to Graham Zusi on the left, and he found Claudio Bieler all alone in the area to finish with ease.
• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura (Alex Martinez 78), Benny Feilhaber - Jacob Peterson (Soony Saad 61), Dom Dwyer (Claudio Bieler 87), Graham Zusi.
• COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark - Josh Williams, Michael Parkhurst, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Waylon Francis - Wil Trapp (ejected 80), Tony Tchani - Hector Jimenez (Dominic Oduro 46), Federico Higuain, Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 69) - Jairo Arrieta (Ethan Finlay 82).

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew saw their streak of draws ended but had their winless run stretched to six games, falling 4-1 to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Crew are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, with 20 points from 17 matches.

LAST MATCH

• Thierry Henry set up the Red Bulls first goal of the game in the 17th minute, receiving a defense-splitting through ball from Eric Alexander before hitting a square pass to Bradley Wright-Phillips for a simple finish.
• The Crew pulled back level in the 39th minute, poking an effort from a bouncing ball past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles from right at the top of the area.
• Henry then put the Red Bulls back in front himself just before halftime, stroking a rebound into the top corner of an unguarded net from the top of the area after Wright-Phillips saw two efforts denied at close range by Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark.
• Henry then returned to his role as provider, setting up Lloyd Sam for a close-range finish in the penalty area with a through ball in the 56th minute. His service then finished off the match in stoppage time, freeing Eric Alexander for a breakaway, after the Crew's Bernardo Anor was sent off in the 85th minute with a second yellow card.
• Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 result with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Chad Barson and Federico Higuain came back into the team, in place of Hector Jimenez and Justin Meram.
• COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Steve Clark - Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Michael Parkhurst (Tyson Wahl 59), Bernardo Anor (ejected 85) - Ethan Finlay (Aaron Schoenfeld 70), Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Ben Speas - Federico Higuain - Jairo Arrieta (Adam Bedell 25)

TEAM NEWS

• The Crew not only saw their string of four draws put to an end, they also extended their run of league matches without a victory to six, the last MLS win coming May 24. The Crew have won just once since opening the season with three consecutive victories.
• "I can safely say it's our worst performance of the year, and it's disappointing," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We had the intention to play a good game and really come here and make it difficult, and we did just the opposite. We made it very, very easy for [New York]. Not to take anything away from them, but the manner in which we conceded goals was amateurish.”
• Making his eighth appearance in his first MLS season, all as a substitute, Adam Bedell scored his first career goal. Listed at 6-foot-7, Bedell is the tallest recorded player in league history.
• “It's great that he got off the mark and he got a goal," said Berhalter. “He's a good finisher, and we need to keep creating opportunities for him because he can finish.”
• Bedell came into the match for Jairo Arrieta, who was forced off midway through the first half with an injury.
• "It was kind of a surprise getting in with Jairo [Arrieta] going down, but you have to be ready," said Bedel,. "I showed that I was. I got in there; a great through ball by Ethan, took it on the hop and it was lucky enough to go in. It feels great."
• Ethan Finlay created the Crew goal with his second assist of the season. Finlay has a goal or an assist in six of his last seven matches, dating back to May 17.
• Federico Higuaín made his first start in an MLS game since June 4, coming into an attacking midfield role as Ben Speas moved out wide on the left.
• “We've got to pick ourselves up and move on,” Berhalter said. “We put this game behind us. It's over, as of now, and we're moving forward. The message to the guys is, 'Let's not talk about it, let's do it.'”

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City won their third game on the trot away from home, getting a late goal for a 2-1 win against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. Sporting are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 29 points from 18 games.
LAST MATCH
• Sporting took the lead in just the fourth minute. From near the right corner, Matt Besler sent in a long throw-in and Dom Dwyer headed it home from the top of the six-yard box.
• But the home side were even in the 28th minute. Justin Mapp claimed a cross from Patrice Bernier, then centered the ball for Marco Di Vaio who expertly headed it into the far bottom corner.
• Yet Sporting and Dwyer hit for the winner in the 89th minute, after miscommunication between goalkeeper Troy Perkins and Heath Pearce on a ball rolling near Montreal's box allowed Dwyer to pounce, curling the ball into an open net for his second of the game and sixth goal this season vs. the Impact.
• Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that gained a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park. Matt Besler came back into central defense in place of Kevin Ellis, and Antonio Dovale and Graham Zusi came into the side in place of Paulo Nagamura and Soony Saad.
• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Andy Gruenebaum - Igor Juliao, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum - Benny Feilhaber, Jacob Peterson (C.J. Sapong 76) - Antonio Dovale (Soony Saad 76), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi.

TEAM NEWS

• Sporting recorded their third consecutive victory on the road while extending their overall undefeated run to four matches. The club record is five consecutive away wins, set in 1997.
• “Our objective is that we think we have the responsibility to go on the road and play. We don’t buy into the whole ‘sit back, bunker in and see if you can get one on the counter,’” said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. “I think it’s important for the fans. I think they got to see some entertainment, but at the same time you still have to be able to get results.”
• Dom Dwyer maintained contact in the MLS Golden Boot with two more goals vs. Montréal. Dwyer has 14 goals for the year, one behind New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips; Dwyer has scored six goals in three SKC wins vs. the Impact (two in each game).
• “He is a handful. He’s got a work ethic that is incredible and at the same time an incredible hunger to score goals. He really doesn’t stop until you take him off the field. His hunger and his courage are two things that win the day for him,” Vermes said.
• Said Dwyer: “I think we played very well, played very professional and we should have probably scored a couple more goals. It was nice to score a couple of goals and most importantly we got three points.”
• Making his first MLS appearance since his return from the U.S. national team and the FIFA World Cup, Matt Besler recorded his first assist of the season, with another long throw-in.
• “That's a thing I know teams in this league don't like,” Vermes said, “but it's something that's a part of our game. When you have numbers in the box like we do, and you have guys moving off the ball, it's like a corner kick.”
• Andy Gruenebaum received credit for a victory for the first time in an MLS game since June 15, 2013, when he backstopped a Columbus Crew 2-0 win against the Montréal Impact. Gruenebaum was making his first start in league play this season after starter Eric Kronberg was sidelined with a broken hand.
• “Obviously you want to win your home games, but if you can steal points on the road, it’s going to make your season,” said Gruenebaum. “We have to take care of business each night, we have to be on and if we play our game we can go anywhere and win.”
• Graham Zusi made his first SKC start after returning from the World Cup (he came on as a substitute in the Chicago match the week before). Antonio Dovale also returned to the starting lineup following a two-match suspension.
• “The positive is that we've had a chance to really evaluate a lot of guys in true MLS games that normally we wouldn't get that opportunity, because if the regulars are always around and playing, then those guys aren't seeing the field," Vermes said. "And now we're getting a chance to really look at our roster and evaluate guys where they should be evaluated – in high-level games.”