COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (HDNet; FSN-SW)
The Columbus Crew and Dallas Burn meet for the third time this season - hoping that unlike their previous two encounters, there will be at least one goal in this one. The Crew's recent form wouldn't lead to an expectation that will change - Columbus has drawn their last three games, including scoreless draws in two. But after going two games without scoring a goal, the Burn exploded for five goals against D.C. United last weekend, their biggest offensive output since a team-record six goals in 2001.
REFEREE: Roni Canales. SAR (bench): David Bragg; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: first game
Games involving Crew: first game
Games involving Burn: first game
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - DOUBTFUL: DF Stephen Herdsman (L quad strain) ... DALLAS BURN - QUESTIONABLE: DF Matt Behncke (groin strain); DF Steve Jolley (back spasms); PROBABLE: FW Jason Kreis (L knee strain
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Erick Scott (Costa Rica Olympic team)
YELLOW PERIL: CLB: Chris Wingert (9 CP in 2 gms)
The teams meet in the third and final time this season, having yet to score a goal in their first two meetings, once at each ground.
They played to a second scoreless draw of the season in their only Cotton Bowl encounter this year on July 10. Both 'keepers made remarkable saves to keep their opponents off the scoreboard: the Burn's Jeff Cassar diving for a stunning stop to keep out Jeff Cunningham's point-blank first-timer in the first half, then the Crew's Jon Busch nearly beaten by a Toni Nhleko flick header only to sweep his leg behind to clear.
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Philip Salyer (Ramon Nuñez 79), Matt Behncke, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Milton Reyes, Brad Davis (Oscar Pareja 55), Ronnie O'Brien, Eric Quill (Jason Thompson 91) - Jason Kreis, Toni Nhleko.
Here's the team Greg Andrulis put out (3-4-1-2): Jon Busch - Duncan Oughton, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Chris Wingert (Frankie Hejduk 69), Simon Elliott, Ross Paule, Eric Denton - Kyle Martino (Nelson Akwari 88) - Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham (Manny Lagos 79)
The teams played to a scoreless draw on May 1 in Columbus, as Crew 'keeper Jon Busch twice snatched balls off his own goal line to protect the scoreless draw. Busch was almost beaten just before the break but Eddie Johnson's header hit the Crew's Kyle Martino on the line, rebounded off the underside of the bar and back off Martino before Busch was able to grab it just before it crossed the line. In the second half, Busch parried a Steve Jolley off the inside of the post before falling on it as it fell onto the goal line.
The Crew didn't lose in the three meetings between the teams last year, the only two clubs not to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs. They played to a scoreless draw on July 5 in Columbus, then the Crew won 2-1 in Southlake on Aug. 23 (Rhine 75 - Buddle 43, Paule 62). Columbus then won 3-2 at home on Sept. 13 (Buddle 28, 81; McBride 39 - Dunseth 15, Johnson 52).
Three of the last five meetings between the clubs have featured scoreless draws.
The Burn have won just once in the last 10 meetings between the two teams. Dallas won in the final of the two meetings in 2002, which followed a string of two Crew victories and two draws.
The road team has won just twice in the last 17 encounters in the series since the 1998 season. Before last year, the only other time in those five seasons also came in a Columbus win at Dallas in 2001.
Manny Lagos leads current Crew players with 5 goals, 2 assists v Dallas, but none of those came with Columbus. Jeff Cunningham is next in points with 2 goals, 6 assists - fourth on the all-time club leaders list - while Edson Buddle has 4 goals, 0 assists.
Jason Kreis is the Burn's all-time leader against Columbus with 6 goals, 9 assists. Among current Dallas players only Eric Quill (3 goals, 1 assist) and Oscar Pareja (2 goals, 2 assists) have more than one goal.
Coaches record: Greg Andrulis v DAL: P10 W4 L1 T5 ... Colin Clarke vs. CLB: P2 W0 L0 T2
ALL-TIME (25 meetings): Crew 8 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals ... Burn 11 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals ... 6 draws
IN COLUMBUS (13 meetings): Crew 5 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals ... Burn 3 wins (0 shootout), 15 goals ... 5 draws
An injury-hit Rapids backline still held firm in earning the scoreless draw. Neither 'keeper was terribly tested over the 90 minutes, but Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon was forced into a quality save when Crew striker Jeff Cunningham rounded a defender for a close-range shot in the first half.
Rapids striker Jean-Philippe Peguero slashed in for a powerful diving header in the second half, but in a real example of the entire day, it went right at Crew 'keeper Jon Busch.
"We were outstanding defensively. Our possession was good. The final third broke down a bit. Both defenses were the story of the game." Crew head coach Greg Andrulis said.
Andrulis made one change to the team that drew 1-1 at home with the New England Revolution the previous week, but also changed his team's tactics. Manny Lagos came into the midfield for wingback Eric Denton, Andrulis reverting to a 4-4-2 system.
Here's Andrulis's team (4-3-1-2): Jon Busch - Duncan Oughton, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk - Ross Paule, Simon Elliott, Manny Lagos (Chris Wingert 74) - Kyle Martino (Brian Maisonneuve 83) - Edson Buddle (David Testo 60), Jeff Cunningham
"We got the shutout again. We held together well in the back," Oughton said. "But with the chances we got, we obviously should have had three points."
Andrulis said his late-match changes were designed to try and get the full three points. "We went with three forwards. We were actually going for the win," he said. "We put David (Testo) and Mais (Maisonneuve) off of Jeff (Cunningham) to give a little different look. In the last four or five minutes we had a couple of good set pieces and got Jeff in a few times. We were going for it."
17-year-old midfielder Danny Szetela joined the club this week, though rumors of trade talks continue to swirl. "We don't want to trade Szetela," said Crew interim GM Mark McCullers. "It would have to be an awfully tall order for the MetroStars for it to make sense."
Defender Robin Fraser was added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Tuesday with the injury to five players originally for that team for this weekend's 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game.
For the third consecutive week, the Columbus Crew played to a draw on Saturday afternoon, neither team scoring a goal in their contest against the Colorado Rapids. The Crew have yet to lose in the month of July, the single point from the result pulling them into a second-place tie in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United with 21 points from 16 matches, both clubs now five points behind the MetroStars.
Brad Davis and Eddie Johnson each grabbed a double as the Burn overwhelmed a United team missing nearly the majority of their first-choice lineup, most through injury then exacerbated by the midweek transfer of U.S. international Bobby Convey to Reading FC in England.
Steve Jolley put the home side after just 10 minutes when he headed home a Brad Davis free kick whipped in from the right, then Johnson doubled the lead when he flicked home first-time a Carey Talley cross from the right flank (31).
United pulled a goal back three minutes when Freddy Adu saw his driven cross from the left deflected into his own net by Burn defender Cory Gibbs, but Davis restored the margin before the break when his angled shot on the run from the left took a deflection and looped over helpless United 'keeper Troy Perkins.
Davis then completed his double in the 63rd minute, racing onto a slide-rule diagonal pass from Oscar Pareja to slot home, before Johnson finished off a pass from Bobby Rhine from the heart of the United area to cap the scoring 10 minutes later.
"I thought our movement was good and I thought our movement off the ball was good," Burn coach Colin Clarke said. "Anytime the ball got wide, we attacked the box very well. We really had some hard runs in the box and were moving very quickly."
Clarke made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards at home the previous weekend.
Carey Talley came for Philip Salyer at right back and Matt Behncke replaced the suspended Chris Gbandi at left back in the back four. Oscar Pareja made his third start of the season, coming into central midfield replacing Milton Reyes as Ronnie O'Brien moved back to the flank. Eddie Johnson made his first start in five matches, returning from an ankle injury, coming into for Toni Nhleko to partner Jason Kreis in attack.
Here's Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Carey Talley, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley (Clarence Goodson 22), Matt Behncke (Philip Salyer 54) - Ronnie O'Brien, Oscar Pareja, Simo Valakari, Brad Davis - Eddie Johnson, Jason Kreis (Bobby Rhine 45).
Clarke could have selection issues this week, as all three substitutions in the United match were forced by injuries. Jolley was forced off after just 22 minutes with back spasms, while Kreis came off just before the halftime break with a strained knee - the same knee he injured last season. Behncke came off just after halftime with a groin strain.
Davis was named MLS Player of the Week in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association after his performance. "It feels so good to finally hit the back of the net," he said. "Hopefully now, it won't be so hard."
The Dallas Burn exploded for five goals after being shutout in back-to-back matches, taking advantage of a severely depleted D.C. United to register a 5-1 victory at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday evening. It was the biggest offensive output of the campaign for the Burn, who pulled into a third-place tie with the Colorado Rapids with 23 points from 17 matches, now 10 points behind the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.