Crew try to claw back into fray vs. Metros
COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (FSN-NY)
The Columbus Crew began the Robert Warzycha era by holding the league's best team record-wise to a draw, and now they take on the MetroStars in their first home game since the dismissal of Greg Andrulis. But the Crew still lost ground in the Eastern Conference, now finding themselves 10 points out of a place in MLS Cup Playoffs, behind the fourth-place battle between the MetroStars and D.C. United. The MetroStars come in off a draw at the weekend themselves, the fourth time they shared the points in their last seven matches.
REFEREE: Gus St. Silva. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 31 games; FC/gm: 33.7; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 7; pens: 7
Games involving Crew: P4 W2 L1 T1; FC/gm: 35.8; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 3; pens: 0
Games involving MetroStars: P8 W2 L5 T1; FC/gm: 38.9; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 2; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); GK Matt Jordan (lower back strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee); QUESTIONABLE: FW Edson Buddle (L Achilles tendonitis); PROBABLE: MF Danny Szetela (L hip flexor strain) ... METROSTARS - OUT: DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain); GK Mike Ueltschey (R finger fracture); MF Amado Guevara (L quad contusion/knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Mark Lisi (L quad contusion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: DF Frankie Hejduk (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
WARNINGS: MET: Michael Bradley (18 CP); Chris Leitch (20 CP)
ALL-TIME (34 meetings): Crew 16 wins (0 shootout), 47 goals ... MetroStars 15 wins (0 shootout), 50 goals ... 3 draws
AT COLUMBUS (17 meetings): Crew 8 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals ... MetroStars 8 wins (0 shootout), 30 goals ... 1 draw
The two Eastern Conference clubs meet for the third time in four encounters this season, the last of two at Crew Stadium. After meeting twice within three weeks not long ago, they'll meet twice in 24 days around the All-Star break, with their final league meeting set for Aug. 14 at The Meadowlands.
The MetroStars have won both encounters this season, one at each ground. They claimed a 3-0 victory at Crew Stadium on May 28, then held off the Crew for a 3-2 victory on June 18 in New Jersey.
In the first meeting, the MetroStars scored on either side of halftime before easing to a comprehensive victory against the Crew. 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. 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.
In the first game after Alexi Lalas took over as the club's president and general manager, the MetroStars knocked off the Crew 3-2 at Giants Stadium.
Ante Razov scored a pair of goals against his former club as the Lalas era in charge began for the MetroStars. The Crew missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead after 28 minutes when Metro 'keeper Zach Wells saved Chris Henderson's penalty kick, redeeming himself after he had tripped up Crew striker Cornell Glen.
Almost immediately after, Razov struck twice within three minutes. First he finished off a quick break out of the MetroStars half when he ran onto a perfectly weighted through ball and made no mistake from just outside the area with a low drive (31). Then he finished off a neat passing sequence on the right, hammering the ball inside the near post from a tight angle after sent through by Amado Guevara.
But the Crew answered just three minutes later, Edson Buddle showing remarkable strength in fighting off defender Jeff Agoos in the box and turning to poke home past Wells.
Yet the MetroStars sealed the victory in the 70th minute when Youri Djorkaeff finished off from the spot after Mario Rodriguez pulled down Guevara in the box following some wonderful individual skill. The Crew again pulled within one, a terrific ball from former MetroStars forward sending Glen on his way, and he finished with aplomb after leaving Wells grasping for air (77), but that was all the visitors could manage.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Agoos (Carlos Mendes 82), Jeff Parke, Tim Regan - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Mike Magee (Sergio Galvan Rey 86), Amado Guevara - Ante Razov, Youri Djorkaeff (Seth Stammler 89).
Here's Greg Andrulis's team (4-3-1-2): Bill Gaudette - Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert - Mario Rodriguez (John Wolyniec 71), Simon Elliott, Chris Henderson (David Testo 48) - Kyle Martino (Knox Cameron 80) - Edson Buddle, Cornell Glen.
A year ago, the teams split their season series, each team winning once in Columbus with the two matches in East Rutherford ending up in draws.
The MetroStars claimed a 3-1 win at Crew Stadium on April 3 to open the campaign for both teams (Hejduk 30 - Magee 40, Wolyniec 52, Guevara 88), then on Aug. 29 in New Jersey the clubs reached a 1-1 draw (Paule 43 pen).
A four-goal night from Edson Buddle gave the Crew a 4-2 victory at home on Sept. 18 (Buddle 9, 52, 65, 74 - Wolyniec 6, Gaven 49), then in the penultimate week of the campaign, they played to another 1-1 draw at Giants Stadium (Galven Rey 71 pen - Cunningham 26).
The MetroStars have won six of the last nine meetings between the teams, with two draws. The Crew victory last year snapped a five-game winless streak in the series.
Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. MET: first game ... Bob Bradley v CLB: P26 W16 L6 T4
The Columbus Crew saw their winless run extended to six games but came away with a positive result in Robert Warzycha's first game as head coach, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field. The Crew are still in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 17 matches, now 10 points out of the final playoff spot and 21 points behind the conference-leading Fire.
The Crew gained a point in Robert Warzycha's first game in charge after the dismissal of Greg Andrulis, though their winless streak was still extended as the Fire ran their own unbeaten streak to six matches.
Rookie Eric Vasquez - making his professional debut - put the visitors into the lead after 54 minutes with a piledriver struck from well outside the area.
But just eight minutes later the Fire hit for the leveler through some free kick magic from Justin Mapp, whipping a curling effort right over the end of the wall and inside Jonny Walker's right-hand post.
In his first match in charge, Warzycha made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at home the previous weekend. Robin Fraser was suspended, so Chris Wingert moved back into the middle of the back three as Eric Vasquez came into central midfield in his MLS debut. Mario Rodriguez went to the substitutes' bench as Kyle Martino returned from suspension, while Knox Cameron replaced the injured Edson Buddle in attack.
Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-2-1): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert, Mark Schulte - Chris Henderson, Simon Elliott, Eric Vasquez, David Testo (Jamal Sutton 84) - Danny Szetela (Mario Rodriguez 72), Kyle Martino (Cornell Glen 72) - Knox Cameron
"I think we should have scored a couple more goals, to be honest with you. It wasn't great. We weren't lucky enough today. I'm very happy about our performance. We were very organized and we have something to build on," Warzycha said.
It was a dream debut for Vasquez, scoring his first professional goal with a stunning strike. However, Mapp's free kick also sailed right over his head, as he was stationed at the near-post side of the wall.
"It's a great experience. I can't even begin to describe how I feel," Vasquez said. "The way Testo laid it off was perfect. It was right there. I saw an open goal. Zach was off the line so I took the shot. ... I think it was a good transition between the team. I think the goal was combined by the whole team. We deserve it as a team. It's good to turn things around."
Going forward, Danny Szetela and Kyle Martino came from more deep-lying positions on either side of Knox Cameron, left as a lone targetman. In defense, the Crew kept a line of five in the back with a block of four midfielder in front.
"I thought we played great. We had our game plan and we stuck with it. It's unfortunate because we had some chances and weren't able to convert. Overall it was a great effort," Cameron said.
They made a push and Columbus had one thing in mind today and that was to get a point. That made it hard for us. They put a lot of yellow shirts in spots on the field. We couldn't find a whole lot of room," Sarachan said. "Combine that with pretty oppressive conditions with the heat. We don't want to use that as an excuse. Fact of the matter is that it was tough conditions out there today and at the end of the day, you take this point and you move on.
The MetroStars ran their modest unbeaten streak to three games, but were still pegged back before settling for a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. The MetroStars are still in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and the final playoff spot, with 25 points from 17 matches along with D.C. United, three points behind the Kansas City Wizards and 11 out of first place.
The MetroStars came out of a tepid first half to take a lead shortly after the interval, only to be answered in short order by the Colorado Rapids as the teams settled for a share of the points.
Ante Razov took advantage of some good fortune to put the home side ahead after 51 minutes. Amado Guevara saw the ball tackled away right on the edge of the box, but it went right to Razov, and his long-range effort took a slight deflection before sneaking past Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon.
But the Rapids pulled level just nine minutes later. Ritchie Kotschau whipped in a pinpoint cross from the left touchline and Jeff Cunningham strolled onto the end of it, hammering a first-time volley from the corner of the six under the crossbar for his league-leading ninth goal of the season.
MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley made two changes to the team that defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 the weekend before at Giants Stadium. Carlos Mendes returned to the back four as Jeff Agoos moved to left back, Tim Regan going to the substitutes bench. Youri Djorkaeff also returned from injury to come back into the first team in attack for Sergio Galvan Rey, though the Colombian replaced him at the halftime interval.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, Jeff Agoos -Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi (Mike Magee 89) - Eddie Gaven, Amado Guevara - Ante Razov (Abbe Ibrahim 84), Youri Djorkaeff (Sergio Galvan Rey 46).
"I think in the first half we got frustrated, I thought it showed in our movement off the ball, I thought the game slowed down and we didn't do enough to keep the tempo up," Bradley said. "At halftime we came out and picked part of it up. You had to play fast on a day like today, you had to push the tempo, you had to be aggressive to run forward and create chances. I thought we had a good start to the second half, we scored a goal, and unfortunately we still sometimes make the mistakes at the wrong time.
The MetroStars received some bad news during the week, when they announced Amado Guevara will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He suffered the injury in last week's game on a tackle by Rapids defender Ricky Lewis.
The MetroStars had the opportunity to again play on grass in their Giants Stadium home, put down in advance of the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals and finals and the high-profile AC Milan-Chelsea friendly on July 31.
"I think the players will tell you that the field is heavy. I don't want to use that as an excuse but every time they lay a field down, it's a different surface all the time and as far as what it feels like on your legs and how it takes a lot out of you I really think that had a lot to do with the game," Bradley said. "Colorado also had a good game plan and it's our job to be good enough to take it apart."
The grass was at least partially responsible for forcing both Razov and Mark Lisi out of the game with leg cramps. Razov left the game in the 84th minute, replaced by rookie Abbe Ibrahim, and Mike Magee came on for Lisi in the 89th minute. "It is what is it. We're not the only team that had to deal with it," midfielder Mark Lisi said. "You just have to deal with it. It shouldn't change the way we play."
Razov's goal was the 82nd of his career and tied him for fourth on the league's all-time table with Raul Diaz Arce. "I think Amado had the ball on the side and they were crowding the 18 and there was nothing in the penalty box so I kind of pulled myself out, laid back and luckily it just came right to me. I was lucky I wasn't really running, I was kind of standing still so I was able to get my feet set, get a good shot and fortunately it went in."
Bradley made a change at the half when Sergio Galvan Rey was brought on for Djorkaeff. "I definitely needed to get on mark and we needed to get a little mobility," Galvan Rey said. "The first half was a little slow and I was hoping to come out strong and make some opportunities in the second half."
Said Bradley: "At halftime there is still a good sense amongst all of us that we had gotten frustrated, we had not pushed the game in the way we like and so for me I thought that the response coming out in the second half was good.
The Metros held a 12-3 shot advantage after the break and won seven corner kicks. "If you keep things tight and keep pushing the tempo, I think the second goal is going to come, but now when you've let them back into the game, it's a little bit harder. We had some half chances after that," Bradley said. "... So I thought the effort in that regard was good. But you've given them life by letting them back into the game."