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Eastern Conference Championship

Crew face early must-win vs. FC Dallas

COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM

COLUMBUS, Ohio

4 pm ET (ESPN2)

A pair of teams looking to arrest recent slides come together at Crew Stadium, as Columbus and FC Dallas play for the first time this season. The Crew have lost their last two games - the club's first two reversals under interim head coach Robert Warzycha - and now are facing a mountain of must-win games if they are going get into the MLS Cup Playoffs. FC Dallas haven't won in league play since the start of July, now having gone six games in a row without a victory, with four losses in that time.

REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Nate Clement; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Mikael Lundqvist

MLS Career: 117 games; FC/gm: 26.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 31; pens: 19

Games involving Crew: P16 W8 L8 T0; FC/gm: 26.3; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 4; pens: 2

Games involving FC Dallas: P20 W9 L10 T1; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 6; pens: 1

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); MF Mario Rodriguez (R hamstring strain); FW Edson Buddle (MLS SABH assessment); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee) ... FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: CLB: Chris Wingert (21 CP; through Aug. 21)

WARNINGS: CLB: Kyle Martino (20 CP) ... DAL: Clarence Goodson (19 CP); Greg Vanney (20 CP); Ronnie O'Brien (16 CP); Simo Valakari (20 CP)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (26 meetings):
Crew 9 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals ... FC Dallas 11 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals ... 6 draws
AT COLUMBUS (14 meetings): Crew 6 wins (0 shootout), 23 goals ... FC Dallas 3 wins (0 shootout), 16 goals ... 5 draws

• This is the first of two league meetings set for this season, the only one to be played at Crew Stadium. They will play for the only time this year at Pizza Hut Park on Oct. 5

• A year ago, the Crew didn't lose in the season series, the teams playing to a pair of scoreless draws before Columbus claimed a victory in the third meeting. The two scoreless draws were split over the two grounds, first on May 1 at Crew Stadium then on July 10 at the Cotton Bowl.

• Then on July 28 in Columbus, the Crew claimed a 2-1 victory (Buddle 38, 43 - Kreis 59)

• The last Dallas league victory in the series came June 29, 2002, a 1-0 golden goal victory in Big D. Since then, the Crew have gone unbeaten in the last six league contests (four victories).

• Dallas has never won at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Crew have five wins (with five draws) in the last 10 meetings between the clubs in the Ohio capital dating back to the 1999 season - the last Dallas win in Columbus came July 25, 1998 - at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. Ironically, the Crew lost three of their first four home games ever against Dallas.

• Earlier this year, FC Dallas eliminated the Crew from the U.S. Open Cup when Columbus was reduced to nine men in extra time then allowed two goals in a 3-1 FC Dallas win in a fourth-round tie at Crew Stadium on Aug. 3. Carey Talley knocked home an Oscar Pareja service in the 29th minute, but the Crew equalized seven minutes later as Kyle Martino finished off a lovely passing sequence.

• The draw stayed intact into extra time, when Danny Szetela and Frankie Hejduk were sent off with direct red cards within four minutes by referee Ricardo Salazar for fouls on Arturo Alvarez. Abe Thompson's powerful drive gave FC Dallas the lead in the 113th minute, then Eddie Johnson converted a penalty three minutes later after he was taken down by Jamal Sutton to provide the final margin.

• Here's Robert Warzycha's team: Jonny Walker, Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert, Robin Fraser, Frankie Hejduk, Simon Elliott (Danny Szetela 74), Eric Vasquez, Chris Henderson (Mario Rodriguez 73), Kyle Martino, Knox Cameron, Cornell Glen (Jamal Sutton 74).

• Here's Colin Clarke's team: Jeff Cassar, Bobby Rhine, Steve Jolley, Drew Moor, David Wagenfuhr, Aaron Pitchkolan, Oscar Pareja (Eddie Johnson 77), Carey Talley, Roberto Mina (Arturo Alvarez 62), Carlos Ruiz (Abe Thompson 58), Ramon Nunez (Clarence Goodson 88).

• Coaches record: Colin Clarke v CLB: P3 W0 L1 T2 ... Robert Warzycha vs. DAL: first game

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew lost for the second time in the Robert Warzycha era, losing a first-half lead in a 2-1 loss to the MetroStars on Sunday evening at Giants Stadium in a hugely important game. The Crew are now 11 points behind the Metros in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, 17 points out of the final playoff spot in the division with 21 points from 21 games.

• The MetroStars were able to keep pace with the rest of the East in a massive six-point match that also saw them extend their home unbeaten run in a game delayed by thunderstorms.

• John Wolyniec came back to haunt his former club with a 33rd-minute goal that gave the Crew the lead. A corner was cleared back to the flank, but only as far as Simon Elliott, and he pumped a cross back into the mixer that Wolyniec powered in to head home.

• But after the break the home side took control of the contest. Sergio Galvan Rey leveled matters two minutes after the restart, a Mike Magee chip finding the Colombian striker in front of goal and he made no mistake pounding home his finish.

• Then Youri Djorkaeff nosed the Metros in front midway through the second half, a Galvan Rey shot initially blocked and the former French international corralling the rebound before sending a shot goalward that Crew defender Chris Wingert just couldn't clear off the line (64).

• Crew interim head coach Robert Warzycha made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes, the first loss under his command. Frankie Hejduk played for the first time under Warzycha, coming in for David Testo, while Danny Szetela also returned to the team, replacing Eric Vasquez. John Wolyniec made his first start for Warzycha, coming in for Cornell Glen.

• Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-2-1): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert, Robin Fraser - Frankie Hejduk (Marcus Storey 70), Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela (Eric Vasquez 69), Chris Henderson - Kyle Martino, John Wolyniec - Knox Cameron (Cornell Glen 61)

• "We have to learn not to be scared to score more goals and win games," said Warzycha. "We have to learn that after you score one, you score another."

TEAM NEWS

• Wolyniec scored his first goal with the Crew, and it came against his former club. The MetroStars had sent Wolyniec to Columbus in the deal that brought Ante Razov to the Meadowlands. "It would have been great. It would have been a made-for-TV movie but it doesn't always go that way," Wolyniec said. "We wanted it, but we just didn't put forth the type of effort it takes to get us the win."

• The Crew dominated the opening 20 minutes of the match, taking a one-goal lead. But then the storms hit, there was a 90-minute delay - and the Crew weren't the same team after the break.

• "I think (the delay) gave them a chance to regroup and make some changes and to their credit they did. They came out and put us on their heels," Wolyniec said. "We made it to halftime, which was good. We should have had a wake-up call then and come out firing. Unfortunately they were the ones who came out firing at us. You can't come out (in the second half) that slow. We really let them come at us and that's unfortunate because for the first 20 minutes we really did the right thing. We really had them."

• There was a little post-game conflict when Frankie Hejduk was taken off in the 70th minute for Marcus Storey. The previous weekend, Hejduk didn't start against San Jose after receiving a red card in the Open Cup match against FC Dallas on Aug. 3.

• "I'm a national team player and in the last two games we need points and I play, what, 80 minutes?" he said. "I'm a national team player and an All-Star, you can't tell me I don't deserve to get on the field for a last-place team. There's a problem there," Hejduk told The Columbus Dispatch. "I don't know, is there a vendetta? Chris Henderson is used to playing on the left side, but he plays the right and I'm on the left. I hate the left side. I'm not comfortable there. Something's going on. It's bad." "That's Frankie's opinion," Warzycha said.

FC DALLAS

FC Dallas saw their winless streak reach six games in league play and remained without a victory in their new Pizza Hut Park home, the New England Revolution claiming a late 2-1 victory in Frisco last Saturday night. FC Dallas stayed in second place in the Western Conference as the remainder of the division failed to win, now trailing the San Jose Earthquakes by three points with 35 points from 21 matches, still three ahead of third-place Los Angeles Galaxy.

• The Revolution again claimed victory in a matchup of the league's elite as FC Dallas continued their recent slide, still not having won since June.

• Clint Dempsey punctuated a happy homecoming to his native state in the 33rd minute when he turned home a rolling cross pulled back from the byeline from Joe Franchino, sidefooting home in between a couple of FC Dallas defenders then racing to the stands to give his mom a quick kiss.

• Carlos Ruiz scored his third goal in two games at the new stadium, heading home a Chris Gbandi cross from the left flank to pull the Hoops level in the 58th minute, but a low, skimming piledriver from outside the area from Shalrie Joseph after FCD failed to clear the danger gave the Revolution an 80th-minute match-winner.

• FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke made three changes to the team that settled for a 2-2 draw with the MetroStars the previous Saturday in the first-ever match at Pizza Hut Park. Steve Jolley and Drew Moor came into the back four for Clarence Goodson and David Wagenfuhr, while Carey Talley made his first start since May 18, coming in for Ramon Nuñez in the midfield.

• Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Jeff Cassar - Chris Gbandi (Ramon Nunez 84), Steve Jolley, Greg Vanney, Drew Moor - Simo Valakari - Arturo Alvarez (Roberto Mina 50), Ronnie O'Brien, Carey Talley (Abe Thompson 86), Eddie Johnson - Carlos Ruiz

• "It's very disappointing," said Clarke. "The result last week didn't go our way but we got a point out of it. We come in here tonight and the same thing happens, we give up a goal late on. Was that their first shot on goal in the second half? I don't know. But it flies into the bottom corner. We're snake bitten at the minute, we just have to stay together and work hard and turn it around."

TEAM NEWS

• The loss extended the FC Dallas winless run to six games. They've lost four in that stretch, dating back to a 2-2 draw with San Jose in the first game in July, though they did defeat the Crew in the fourth round Open Cup match on Aug. 3.

• "I just think we are not in it mentally. We're certainly not into the game and you can't do that because when you do that, you get scored on. I don't think we are getting complacent; things were going our way early on. Now, we really have to dig deep and show more character," said goalkeeper Jeff Cassar.

• Even more troubling is the goals that the Hoops have allowed over the stretch. They allowed no fewer than two in each game, allowing three on three occasions, in back-to-back-to-back losses to the Revolution, Real and MetroStars.

• "Talking about team defending, we're finding ways to give up goals. That's 15 goals in six games and that's unacceptable. We had breakdowns in the middle and in the back, not just one individual breakdown, we're giving away the ball in bad spots and we are not covering for each other. We are not making plays to prevent goals," said Greg Vanney.

• "Other teams are starting to figure out how to score goals on us, Shalrie scores a goal that is only scored once a year and we gave away the game. We can't give away those types of shots and we are finding ways to give up goals and give away games. We have to pull together in order to turn this thing around," he said.

• Especially frustrating was Joseph's match-winner: "There's two or three players around him, he should have never got the shot off," said Ronnie O'Brien. "Every week it's a mistake from a couple of players, be it me or someone else. No one is going to point fingers, but every week two or three players are making a mistake and we're getting punished for it."


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