Crew look to neutralize D.C. attack

The Columbus Crew look to revert back to their opening week as they host D.C. United on Friday night at Columbus Crew Stadium. Columbus began the season with a 3-0 home victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy before having the New England Revolution return the favor in the Crew's first road game.

New England picked up three late goals to send the Crew to their first defeat in 19 regular-season matches.

"New England played very well. For 60 minutes, it wasn't an awful performance," said Crew coach Greg Andrulis. "Once we gave up the goal, we had to press and left ourselves vulnerable. New England was able to take advantage of it."

After defeat against one Eastern Conference rival, the Crew are now preparing for another, defending MLS Cup champion D.C. United.

"It is a new week," said Crew defender Frankie Hejduk. "We have put last week behind us."

Columbus is well aware of the defending champions' good form of late.

"They are a very good team. We have already played them twice in preseason, once early and once late," said Andrulis. "They are certainly firing on all cylinders. The fact that they are in midseason form is going to be a great challenge for us."

The Crew lost 1-0 and 3-0 to United in their second and final preseason matches, respectively.

United sport a great pair of forwards in Alecko Eskandarian and Jaime Moreno.

"D.C. has a deadly forward combo in Alecko and Jaime Moreno. We need to make sure that we all are ready to come and play," said Hejduk.

Unfortunately for D.C., the teams are playing on Friday evening, just two days after their 5-0 CONCACAF Champions' Cup defeat at the hands of Mexican outfit Pumas in the high altitude of Mexico City. In fact, it will be D.C.'s fourth match in 10 days. Columbus hopes to use their opponent's fatigue as an advantage.

"We know that D.C. is going to be tired," said Hejduk. "We are going to come out and press. Most teams play defensively when away from home. We are going to try to take it to them with a high tempo and aggressive game."

The Black & Gold will likely make some player changes in the lineup this week. Hejduk recovered from an ankle injury and is due to start at right back. Also on the right side, Mario Rodriguez looks like he has his visa problem solved and is ready to go on the right of midfield.

In addition to personnel changes, Hejduk is looking for some more aggressiveness from his teammates.

"I think we need to rough things up a bit. Last week, we were not aggressive enough. We need to be tighter to our men. We need to feel like we are invincible at home," he said.

John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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