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COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
4 pm ET (ESPN2)
A pair of teams desperately looking for a reversal in fortune - both of which have had a weekend off from league wars - come together on ESPN's Soccer Saturday. The Columbus Crew haven't scored in two league matches and made big news with the trade of striker Ante Razov during the week, but perhaps got a jump-start with an impressive win in a friendly last weekend. The Colorado Rapids come off a step in the right direction themselves, a scoreless draw against Eastern Conference leader New England Revolution two weeks ago snapping a three-game losing skid.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Rob Fereday; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 11 games; FC/gm: 29.6; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 4; pens: 2
Games involving Crew: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving Rapids: P4 W0 L1 T3; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 1; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Chad Marshall (R finger tendon tear); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee); GK Matt Jordan (lower back strain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - QUESTIONABLE: MF Terry Cooke (R knee sprain); MF Pablo Mastroeni (R quadriceps strain); PROBABLE: FW Luchi Gonzalez (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: MF Danny Szetela (USA U-20; FIFA World Youth Championship); MF Luis Gallardo (Panama U-20; FIFA World Youth Championship)
SUSPENDED: COL: DF Guy Melamed (through June 11)
YELLOW PERIL: CLB: DF Frankie Hejduk (19 CP)
This is the second and final league encounter between the teams this season.
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Rapids 12 wins (2 shootout), 35 goals ... Crew 4 wins (1 shootout), 27 goals ... 5 draws
IN DENVER: (10 meetings): Rapids 6 wins (1 shootout), 12 goals ... Crew 1 win (0 shootout), 9 goals ... 3 draws
The Rapids scored early in each half to claim a first three-pointer of the campaign in a 2-0 victory in Denver on April 23. Colorado opened their account after just two minutes, a long cross from Luchi Gonzalez finding Chris Henderson on the left of the area, and he headed back for Pablo Mastroeni who hammered a low first-time volley home inside the far post.
Then just before the hour, Henderson was again involved as he wriggled free on the left flank and whipped in a cross from the corner that found an unmarked Gonzalez, who headed home for his first MLS goal. The Crew were reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes after wingback Mario Rodriguez was sent off with a straight red card in his MLS debut.
Here's Fernando Clavijo's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Hunter Freeman, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Eric Denton - Terry Cooke (Leo Cullen 78), Pablo Mastroeni, Mark Chung, Chris Henderson - Luchi Gonzalez, Alain Nkong (Jean-Philippe Peguero 62)
Here's Greg Andrulis's team (3-4-1-2): Jon Busch - Ryan Kelly (Chris Wingert 61), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela, Frankie Hejduk - Kyle Martino (Devin Barclay 71) - Edson Buddle, Ante Razov.
A year ago, the Rapids claimed another win in the series, before the teams played to a pair of draws. Colorado won 2-1 in June 26 at Crew Stadium (Buddle 89 - Peguero 37, og 45), then they battled 180 minutes in Denver without a victor, a scoreless draw on July 24 and a 1-1 draw in the season finale on Oct. 16 (Henderson 47 pen - Oughton 40))
The Crew have won just once in the series since the 1999 season - a 2-0 victory in Columbus on May 10, 2003. The Rapids have won three of the last six meetings between the teams. The only Columbus victory in Denver came on July 4, 1999, a 3-0 Crew victory.
Coaches record: Fernando Clavijo v CLB: P7 W3 L3 T1 ... Greg Andrulis vs. DC: P8 W1 L3 D4
The MetroStars scored on either side of halftime before easing to a comprehensive victory against the Crew, who saw their current goalless run extended to nearly four hours (233 minutes).
Youri Djorkaeff's first goal in MLS put the MetroStars in the lead after 38 minutes, a long-range blast beating Bill Gaudette, who was making his first MLS start after first-choice Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was lost for the season to a knee injury.
Then four minutes after the break, Abbe Ibrahim neatly flicked on a long ball from Michael Bradley, and Eddie Gaven collected the pass and raced away from a Crew defender before slotting past Gaudette. The Crew saw a penalty saved by Metro 'keeper Zach Wells on 70 minutes.
Ibrahim finished off the scoring with his first MLS goal, getting on the end of a John Wolyniec chip before driving a low shot home from the heart of the area (89).
Crew coach Greg Andrulis made no changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw away to the Los Angeles Galaxy the Wednesday before. Here Andrulis's team (4-4-1-1): Bill Gaudette - Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Stephen Herdsman (Marcus Storey 80) - Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert (Cornell Glen 54), Chris Henderson - Kyle Martino - Edson Buddle (Domenic Mediate 80).
The Columbus Crew return to action after a week off, after losing for the fifth time in seven games in their last outing, a 3-0 home loss to the MetroStars on May 28. The Crew are now in sixth place at the foot of the Eastern Conference with 10 points from 10 matches, two points behind fifth-place D.C. United and now 12 points behind East leader New England Revolution.
On Tuesday, the Crew sent disgruntled striker Ante Razov to the MetroStars in exchange for striker John Wolyniec and a portion of an allocation. Razov had not scored since hitting for a goal and two assists in the season opening victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy, while Wolyniec has two goals and three assists on the year.
"He (Wolyniec) also is the type of player who will work hard to do the little things and care more about the name on the front of the jersey than the name on the back," Crew coach Greg Andrulis said to The Columbus Dispatch.
"Change is tough, but it's a promising change. This represents an opportunity to fill a void. People say the Crew has trouble scoring," Wolyniec said, who will also be re-united with Trinidad & Tobago international Cornell Glen. Glen was with the Metros last season before moving to Columbus. "In our time together I felt we were a pretty good combination," Wolyniec said. "If the combination works again, that'll be great."
The Crew goalkeeper "curse" continued, when Clint Baumstark suffered a right ankle sprain that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks. Baumstark is signed to a league contract as an emergency 'keeper to fill in when teams are short-handed; he earlier saw time with Real Salt Lake this season.
Though the Crew had the weekend off from league wars, they defeated Chile's Universidad Catolica 4-1 on Saturday in a friendly at Crew Stadium. Knox Cameron scored a pair of goals while Chris Henderson added three assists.
Chad Marshall gave the Crew a 43rd-minute lead, but Universidad's Albert Acevedo pulled his side level just before halftime. But in the first minute after the break Cameron scored his first, doubling the lead on the hour. Cornell Glen finished off the scoreline with a 74th-minute goal.
Here's Andrulis's team: Bill Gaudette (Clint Baumstark 45), Stephen Herdsman, Robin Fraser (Ryan Kelly 66), Chad Marshall (Domenic Mediate 83), Mark Schulte, Marcus Storey, Simon Elliott (Eric Vasquez 66), Chris Wingert, Chris Henderson (David Testo 66), Cornell Glen, Knox Cameron (Edson Buddle 83)
Mario Rodriguez scored the second goal for Guatemala as they nearly came back to grab an amazing result in Costa Rica in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier, only to fall 3-2. Down 2-0 with a half-hour left, Rodriguez's 76th-minute was the second in three minutes to pull the chapines level, only for Paulo Wanchope to hit for the winner in stoppage time. Rodriguez played the full match in San Jose, after coming on as a 65th-minute substitute in Guatemala's 2-0 loss to Mexico at the weekend.
Once again a Western Conference team come into Gillette Stadium and looked to defend in depth, and this time came away with a share of the spoils. Chivas USA had nearly achieved it earlier in the year, only to see a late goal give the Revs a victory.
New England missed the influence of two starters away on international duty as they struggled to break down a massed Rapids defense. The Rapids survived playing the final 10 minutes a man down after Guy Melamed - a product of nearby Boston College - was sent off with a second yellow card.
"It think we came out here looking at it like it was going to be a what because that's the best team in the league and you can even see how good they are without two of their starters. I think the guys who came in for (Clint) Dempsey and (Steve) Ralston did a great job. That team is a great team and we knew that to match a talented team we were going to have to step up our intensity and our attitude and our level of concentration. Tonight, I think we did that," goalkeeper Joe Cannon said.
Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes the midweek before at home. Ritchie Kotschau returned to left back as Eric Denton moved into midfield in place of Alain Nkong. Kyle Beckerman came back into the team in central midfield in place of Leo Cullen, and Wolde Harris replaced Jean-Philippe Peguero up top.
Here's Clavijo's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Ricky Lewis, Nat Borchers, Mike Petke, Ritchie Kotschau - Matt Crawford (Hunter Freeman 78), Kyle Beckerman, Guy Melamed, Eric Denton - Jeff Cunningham (Alain Nkong 89), Wolde Harris (Leo Cullen 84).
"More than anything else, not the point, but the attitude of the team. We came out to fight for 90 minutes and everybody committed 100 percent. We're not going to lose many games the way we played tonight. It's not going to get any easier. We need to play with the same attitude and same intensity," Clavijo said.
The Colorado Rapids also return to action after a week off from league wars, ending a three-match losing streak in a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution on May 28 at Gillette Stadium. The Rapids are still in fifth place in the Western Conference with eight points from 11 matches, three behind Real Salt Lake and three ahead of Chivas USA - now 16 points behind first place FC Dallas.
The Rapids saw their major injuries - midfielders Terry Cooke and Pablo Mastroeni and forwards Jean Philippe Peguero and Luchi Gonzalez all return to full training during the week and the quartet should be available for selection on the weekend. Peguero did suffer a knock in training during the week, but was expected to recover in time for the match at the weekend.
"Finally I've been training this week. The ankle is a little weak and that will limit me in certain situations but I'm happy to be training although I'm conscious that my return will be limited," Gonzalez said.
Said Mastroeni: "Continuing in my recovery stage I'm almost ready to return. I'm going to start on Saturday but I understand that I probably can't last the full 90 minutes."
"Hopefully, we get everybody healthy back after two weeks of rest and we can build from it. It's going to be an uphill battle for us, making changes. We knew it's going to be hard. We need to take a step back before going forward, but this is a great start and we need to build from it," Clavijo said.
During the week, Clavijo was honored with selection to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. "I'm very proud because I think it's a reward for the 27 years I've spent in soccer in this country. I'm proud and honored to be a part of a very exquisite group in the history of MLS," he said.