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11/23 FINAL
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11/30 9:00pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Eastern rivals clash in Columbus

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COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM

COLUMBUS, Ohio

7:30 pm ET (MSG)

On the heels of a four-game losing streak, the Columbus Crew set about to clean up things in the back, and they've now posted back-to-back shutouts in gaining four points from their last two matches, last a midweek scoreless draw in Los Angeles against the Galaxy. They play host to a MetroStars team that has had one of the league's best defenses throughout but have struggled to consistently score goals, coming off a midweek 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards that ended their perfect road record in the early going.

REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Richard Eddy; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Rizal Milliken

MLS Career: 85 games; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 18; pens: 30

Games involving Crew: P12 W5 L7 T0; FC/gm: 29.4; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 2; pens: 6

Games involving MetroStars: P9 W3 L5 T1; FC/gm: 30.0; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 2; pens: 4

INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: GK Matt Jordan (lower back strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); DOUBTFUL: GK Jon Busch (R knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Devin Barclay (R shoulder separation) ... METROSTARS - OUT: GK Mike Ueltschey (lower abdominal strain); DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain); MF Chris Corcoran (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Jeff Agoos (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Jonny Walker (L calf strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
YELLOW PERIL: CLB: Simon Elliott (20 CP); Frankie Hejduk (20 CP)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (32 meetings): Crew 16 wins (0 shootout), 45 goals ... MetroStars 13 wins (0 shootout), 44 goals ... 3 draws
AT COLUMBUS (16 meetings): Crew 8 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals ... MetroStars 7 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals ... 1 draws

• The two Eastern Conference clubs meet for the first time in four encounters this season, the first of two at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. They'll meet again in three weeks at Giants Stadium, then meet twice in short order around the All-Star break, on July 20 at Crew Stadium and Aug. 14 at The Meadowlands.

• 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 four of the last seven meetings between the teams, with two draws. The Crew victory last year snapped a five-game winless streak in the series.

• Coaches record: Greg Andrulis vs. MET: P14 W6 L5 D3 ... Bob Bradley v CLB: P24 W14 L6 T4

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew kept a clean sheet for the second consecutive match, shutting out the Los Angeles Galaxy for the second time on the season in a scoreless draw at The Home Depot Center on Wednesday night. The Crew are now in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 10 points from nine matches, now a point ahead of the MetroStars and a point behind D.C. United, 10 points adrift of East leaders New England Revolution.

• The big moment of the match came late in the first half, when defender Robin Fraser fell onto the outside of goalkeeper Jon Busch's knee. The Crew 'keeper went down for a few minutes before gamely completing the first half, but he was in position to continue. Bill Gaudette made his MLS debut, coming in for the second half between the posts.

• "We need (Busch)," Crew coach Greg Andrulis said with a nervous laugh. "We've already got our backup, Matt Jordan, out for another 2-4 weeks with a pinched nerve. We're down our two senior 'keepers and going with a developmental guy (Bill Gaudette). We're confident in him. We'll have to call the league and, hopefully, get some help."

• Andrulis made one change to the team that ended a four-match losing streak in a 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake the weekend before. Chris Henderson made his Crew debut, coming in wide on the left of midfield as Kyle Martino moved forward in attack, in place of the suspended Cornell Glen.

• Here's Andrulis's team (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch (Bill Gaudette 46) - Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Stephen Herdsman, Mario Rodriguez, Chris Wingert, Simon Elliott, Chris Henderson - Kyle Martino (Danny Szetela 76) - Edson Buddle (Knox Cameron 89)

TEAM NEWS

• For the second time the Crew faced the Galaxy, and for the second time they kept a clean sheet. Also for the second time, they didn't have to face Landon Donovan, away on national team duty after missing the first match through illness.

• "Clearly, Landon makes any team a little bit better," Andrulis said. "We've been fortunate, but also a little bit disappointed (not to play against him). Landon adds an entirely different dimension to any team. This is such a big field, you just have to stay compact. I thought our team defending was terrific. Clearly, we weren't getting it done (on defense), but our shape is much better. We're having players come back from injury with (Stephen) Herdsman and Robin (Fraser), and you have to account for that."

• Henderson arrived via D.C. United, who sent defender Mike Petke to the Colorado Rapids. United received a portion of an allocation in return for sending the MLS original winger to the Crew.

• "I like it here. I think this is a talented team. There's been a lot of stress this week. For me to get on the field, it's the best stress reliever. I just want to go play my game. I want to get the ball wide, get up and down on the wing, get service to the forwards," Henderson said.

• Said Andrulis: "We've been an admirer of Chris from afar. You see what he brings; a little bit of energy. He's a veteran. He's been through the wars. He's a quality player, he brings leadership and he'll say the things that need to be said in the locker room."

• Henderson had the best Crew chance of the match, a late effort that brought a rolling save out of Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. But from the outset, the Crew again defended in depth (as they had done against Real), looking to break on the counter. Both goals against RSL came on set pieces, but no such luck in L.A.

• "It's tough, but we had to do what we had to do," Edson Buddle said. "I don't think there's concern (in the attack). Final passing ... the final ball will definitely solve the problem."

• Disgruntled forward Ante Razov was not in the 16-man travel party. "I felt we had two guys doing the same thing," Andrulis said to The Columbus Dispatch of Buddle and Razov. "We had shortened the field. We needed to stretch the field and give a different look. That's what Cornell [Glen] does. ... I'm glad he's not happy not being a starter. We've used him in every game (as a sub) and he's given us a good professional effort.

METROSTARS

The MetroStars lost on the road for the first time this season, a goal early in the second half the only one in the match in a defeat by the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on Wednesday night. The MetroStars are now alone at the foot of the Eastern Conference table with nine points from eight matches, one point behind the Columbus Crew and 11 points out of first place.

• The lone goal came on 48 minutes through a quick attack off a turnover just inside the MetroStars half. Chris Klein drew the MetroStars defense to him, then fed Sasha Victorine who quickly squared for Davy Arnaud to the right as Scott Sealy played a wonderful dummy. Arnaud's left-footed shot snuck between MetroStars goalkeeper Zach Wells legs and into the back of the net.

• The Wizards had nearly taken the lead in the 19th minute when defender Jimmy Conrad headed a corner goalward that seemed certain to hit home, but Amado Guevara made an acrobatic diving header on the line to preserve the scoreless tie at that point.

• "I don't think we created as many chances as we have in previous games," MetroStars midfielder Eddie Gaven said. "I don't know why. Maybe it's because guys aren't running as much. (Kansas City) definitely had a very organized defense."

• MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made two changes to the team that claimed a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution the previous weekend. Jeff Parke returned to the first team in central defense, coming in for Jeff Agoos, still hampered by calf cramps. With Abbe Ibrahim suspended, John Wolyniec partnered Youri Djorkaeff in attack.

• Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Tim Regan, Tim Ward (Carlos Mendes 62) - Michael Bradley (Sergio Galvan Rey 83), Mark Lisi (Gilberto Flores 69) - Eddie Gaven, Amado Guevara - Youri Djorkaeff, John Wolyniec

• "Our passing was not sharp. As a result certain movements never ended up going anywhere," Bradley said. "Opportunities to creating scoring chances went by the wayside because the passing and timing of our passing was not as good as it needs to be."

TEAM NEWS

• The MetroStars had earned three points in scored three goals in each of their two previous away games, Apr. 30 at Colorado and May 14 at Chicago. But the MetroStars got neither goals nor points from their first midweek game of the season.

• "We did have opportunities also in the second half but unfortunately this was not a day that any of them went in," Guevara said. "I think one good thing is that we had opportunities. Now we have to work on finishing those opportunities."

• Mike Magee also missed the match, due to personal reasons. Both he and Agoos are expected to be available for selection for the Crew match.

• The MetroStars had come into the match perfect on the road, while still winless in five matches at Giants Stadium. The club's winless streak at home is now eight matches, dating back to last Sept. 11.


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