COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (no TV)
Now facing each other as Eastern Conference rivals, the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards face off in Ohio wondering where the form of a year ago has gone. The Crew have lost three games in a row and allowed seven goals - while scoring just one - though their two victories on the season have come at home. The Wizards have been uncharacteristically brittle in the back this season, seeing a two-goal dwindle away for the second time this season last week in a draw with FC Dallas.
REFEREE: Lee Suckel. SAR (bench): Thomas Supple; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Kevin Terry
MLS Career: first game
Games involving Crew: first game
Games involving Wizards: first game
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: MF Devin Barclay (R shoulder separation); DF Robin Fraser (L ankle sprain); GK Matt Jordan (lower back strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Testo (L ankle sprain) ... KANSAS CITY WIZARDS - OUT: MF Diego Gutierrez (L knee injury); MF Diego Walsh (R hip flexor); QUESTIONABLE: MF Doug Lascody (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: MF John Minagawa-Webster (R ankle sprain); DF Alex Zotinca (R adductor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: none
Now facing each other in the Eastern Conference, this will be the first of four meetings between the clubs this season. They'll do battle at Arrowhead Stadium on June 29, then face off for the second and final time at the Ohio State Fairgrounds on July 23. Their fourth and final league meeting will be Aug. 26 in Kansas City.
A year ago the teams met three times, evenly splitting the season series. On April 17, the Wizards claimed a 1-0 victory in the clubs only meeting at Arrowhead Stadium (Arnaud 42).
They then met twice in Columbus, the teams playing to a 2-2 draw on June 12 (Cunningham 18, 63 pen - Conrad 21, Thomas 24), the Crew then winning 2-1 on Aug. 18. (Paule 43 pen, Martino 90 - Graham 79).
Each of the last two years, and four of the last five, the teams have evenly split their season series. They've met three times over the previous two campaigns, with each team claiming a win along with one draw. In 2000 and 2001, the teams split their two meetings both of those years.
In 1999 and 2002, the Crew won the season series. The Crew captured both meetings in the 1999 season, and in 2002 Columbus won one game with the second played to a draw.
Coaches record: Greg Andrulis vs. KC: P9 W4 L2 D3 ... Bob Gansler v CLB: P13 W4 L6 T3
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): Crew 11 wins (0 shootout), 47 goals ... Wizards 9 wins (2 shootout), 36 goals ... 3 draws
IN COLUMBUS: (13 meetings): Crew 7 wins (0 shootout), 25 goals ... Wizards 4 wins (1 shootout), 18 goals ... 2 draws
Freddy Adu showed the breathtaking promise he possesses when he scored a goal and added two assists to lead United. He sent D.C. off to a dream start when he set up two goals in the first nine minutes. After just five minutes, Brandon Prideaux was sent in alone on goal, and despite slipping it past Jon Busch, Crew defender Chad Marshall came racing in to hook it off the line. But Adu chased it down in the left corner and drove the ball back into the six where Jaime Moreno turned it home.
Then Adu split open the Crew backline with an angled pass that found Ben Olsen on the right flank, and he had the time to pick out Josh Gros at the penalty spot with a driven cross. The second-year man then powered a diving header high into the goal.
Rookie Domenic Mediate then scored his first professional goal in the 69th minute when he reached in front of a defender and turned home an Edson Buddle flick-on from the heart of the area. It was the Crew's first goal in a run of 313 minutes.
Yet Adu restored the advantage just two minutes later with a wonderful individual effort, receiving a long ball from Olsen on the right deep in the Columbus box before leaving a defender behind with a quick cut and calmly finishing with a low shot home off the base of the left post.
Crew coach Greg Andrulis made three changes - but a host of tactical shifts - to the team that lost 2-0 to the Chicago Fire the weekend before. Mario Rodriguez came in on the right of midfield and Dominic Mediate on the left as Frankie Hejduk and Chris Wingert moved to reconstitute the back three, with Robin Fraser injured and Mark Schulte dropped. Cornell Glen made his first start with the Crew, replacing Ante Razov in attack.
Here's Andrulis's team (3-4-1-2): Jon Busch - Frankie Hejduk, Chris Wingert, Chad Marshall - Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela (Ante Razov 78), Domenic Mediate (Marcus Storey 76) - Kyle Martino (Manny Lagos 78) - Edson Buddle, Cornell Glen.
"There were a lot of positives to take from the game," said Andrulis. "You lose 3-1 and it's tough to swallow, especially because we gave up three very bad goals. We need to do a better job defensively, but we did do a good job of carrying the game and creating some offensive chances. I think that we showed a lot of character to claw our way back and get the momentum on our side. But giving away that third goal made it tough for us to regain the momentum when we had things going our way. That was a bad strike for us...to give up that third goal was backbreaking."
The Columbus Crew lost for the third match in a row, an early D.C. United blitz sending them on their way to a 3-1 loss at RFK Stadium last Saturday evening. The Crew now sit tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with six points from six matches, level with the Kansas City Wizards, a point ahead of the MetroStars and 10 out of first place behind leaders New England Revolution.
Glen was a surprise starter in attack for the Crew in Washington. "Cornell gives us an out-and-out runner," Andrulis said. "Cornell likes to get after it and chase things down and he'll be looking to get forward a little quicker. ... You have to reward guys who are training hard and playing well, and when you go as many minutes as we have without scoring, you've got to look for some different ways to create chances," Andrulis said. "It's not all the fault of our forwards that we aren't scoring, but this gives us a little different look."
A year ago, the Crew started with just one victory and two draws in their first five games, but eventually had reeled off an MLS-record unbeaten run by season's end. ''There's not too much difference in this team and last year's. There's no reason for our record," defender Frankie Hejduk said.
But the D.C. match was another tough night in the back for the Crew, who have allowed seven goals in their last three matches. In addition to two clean sheets, they've allowed two goals in two games and three goals in two games.
"If we can sort ourselves out [defensively] and not give up early goals, we're going to be in games," said goalkeeper Jon Busch. "We are giving up way too many goals right now and it's on my shoulders as much as anyone else. I need to be the leader and the quarterback back there. I'm tired of picking the ball out of the back of the net."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Wizards again scored first, as they have in every game this season, but for the fourth time came away without the full three points. The teams traded goals early in the first half, with Sasha Victorine heading home a corner after just four minutes, before Eddie Johnson headed home a cross powered in from the right to pull the Hoops level (16).
The Wizards then hit for two goals within three minutes shortly after the break. Josh Wolff converted from the spot after Bobby Rhine was adjudged to have pulled over Jose Burciaga Jr. (51), then Burciaga found Chris Klein all alone in the heart of the area with a long ball from nearly the halfway line, and he neatly slipped it past FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick.
But Dallas pulled a goal back on 76 minutes through a neat header from Ronnie O'Brien, whose backward redirection from a Bobby Rhine service found home. Then Carlos Ruiz hit for the equalizer six minutes later, turning to escape his marker at the top of the area and lashing a low, left-footed shot inside Bo Oshoniyi's left-hand post.
It was the second time the Wizards had wasted a two-goal bulge. Against the MetroStars on April 16, the Wizards held a 2-0 lead after 31 minutes only to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Wizards coach Bob Gansler made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with D.C. United the weekend before. With Diego Gutierrez out with a knee injury, Alex Zotinca moved into central midfield, meaning there was a place for Sasha Victorine at right back, who returned from injury. Jack Jewsbury came back in at left midfield as Davy Arnaud returned up top in place of Scott Sealy.
Here's Gansler's team (4-4-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Sasha Victorine (Preki 84), Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Alex Zotinca, Jack Jewsbury (Khari Stephenson 69) - Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud
"It was exciting for the fans, but that doesn't mean it was good for us. As we mentioned last week, we tried to fix one leak and something else springs up. This week we came out and scored some goals again and couldn't hold it. We are good enough to do all these bits and pieces but it is about playing a game. It is not about shutting out people, it's not about scoring goals, it's about winning games," Gansler said.
The Kansas City Wizards saw another lead lost late, this time squandering a two-goal advantage before settling for a 3-3 draw with FC Dallas at Arrowhead Stadium last Saturday. The Wizards now have six points from six matches, tied with the Columbus Crew for fourth in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the MetroStars and 10 full points behind leaders New England Revolution.
Preki was a late substitute, making his first league appearance of the season, coming on in the 84th minute after had made only reserve team appearances up to that point. "Preki had his best week of practice this week," Gansler said. "Our plan going in was, if we needed an offensive boost in the last 20 minutes, that's when he was going in.
While all the focus is on the second half "collapse", where the Wizards allowed two goals, in the first half they allowed 13 shots in all, five on goal. "I think it is all 11 guys. I don't think it's just one person, it's a collective thing. We are not getting the results we need. It is sad to say, but at least we didn't lose. But even still, we feel like we did," Oshoniyi said.
After making a number of appearances at right back, Alex Zotinca was the choice to take Diego Gutierrez's place in central midfield, after the club captain went down with a knee injury. "I enjoy the position. FC Dallas was a tough test for me," said Zotinca. "There are still a few things to work on. I'm very critical of myself; I think I could have done better." Said central axis partner Kerry Zavagnin: "Maybe there are a few things we need to communicate and get a feel for each other on, but for him being at that position for the first time this year, I thought he did a good job. It takes a few games to get acquainted."
Sasha Victorine returned to the lineup after missing two matches, and scored his first goal with the Wizards. "It was nice to get that first one off my back and show I can contribute offensively," he said.