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COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (HDNet; FSN-BA)
Much maligned from the start of the season, the Columbus Crew have now won two consecutive matches - and are unbeaten in four consecutive matches - after strolling into Soldier Field last Sunday and coming away with a 3-1 victory against the Chicago Fire, after having scored just three goals in their first six matches. They now entertain a San Jose Earthquakes side that has won two in a row and has rebounded from a slow start by going unbeaten in their last four matches - having scored 11 goals in their last three games. But they haven't won in Columbus in nine years.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Kermit Quisenberry; 4th: Kevin Stott
MLS Career: first game
Games involving Crew: first game
Games involving Earthquakes: first game
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - QUESTIONABLE: MD Brian Maisonneuve (R ankle sprain); FW Erick Scott (R knee contusion) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); DF Todd Dunivant (L quad strain); MD Chris Brown (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Troy Dayak (upper back sprain); M Ronnie Ekelund (neck infection)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Duncan Oughton, Simon Elliott (New Zealand; Oceania Nations Cup) ... SJ: Pat Onstad; Dwayne De Rosario (Canada; v Wales, May 30)
YELLOW PERIL: CLB: Brian Maisonneuve (10 CP in 2 gms)
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): Crew 13 wins (2 shootout), 46 goals ... Earthquakes 9 wins (3 shootout), 38 goals ... 1 draw
IN COLUMBUS (11 meetings): Crew 10 wins (2 shootout), 24 goals ... Earthquakes 1 win, 13 goals ... 0 draws
This is the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season, the only one in Columbus. They'll meet at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 8.
A year ago, the teams met three times with San Jose winning two and Columbus one - each winning at home. They began the season series with a wild affair at Spartan Stadium on May 17, a 4-3 Quakes win (Mullan 30, Ching 49, Agoos 67, Donovan 87 - McBride 38 pen; Cunningham 61; Paule 90).
The Crew then won by the only goal of the game at home on June 7 (McBride 85), before the Quakes were again successful at home two weekends later in a 2-1 win (Mullan 43, Walker 77 - McBride 55)
The Earthquakes won in their first-ever appearance in Columbus, a 4-3 win on July 20, 1996 - and haven't won since. Two of the Crew wins over the next three years came by shootout after a regulation draw, but San Jose hasn't take a single point from their visits to Ohio in 10 matches.
But Columbus hasn't had much success in San Jose either. The Crew last won in Silicon Valley on Aug. 2, 2000 (a stretch of seven matches). The visiting team has won just four times in 23 meetings in the series, and not in the last 10 matches between the clubs (though there was one draw).
The Earthquakes have won two of the last three meetings at Spartan Stadium by 4-3 scorelines.
Jeff Cunningham leads the Crew's all-time scoring leaders against San Jose with 9 goals, 6 assists. Among current Columbus players, Ross Paule is next with 5 goals, 6 assists (just 1 goal while with the Crew). Brian Maisonneuve has 2 goals, 5 assists, while Edson Buddle has 3 goals. Simon Elliott has 4 goals, 4 assists for his career v the Earthquakes - none while in Columbus.
Among current Earthquakes, four players have 2 goals: Chris Brown (with 1 assist), Ronnie Ekelund (with 1 assist), Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan - but none of Brown's points came with San Jose. The Earthquakes all-time club leader against the Crew is Ronald Cerritos (6 goals, 3 assists), while Manny Lagos had 6 assists.
Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v CLB: first meeting ... Greg Andrulis vs. SJ: P9 W4 L4 T1
Jeff Cunningham put the Crew ahead in the 32nd minute, converting his own penalty after he was held back in the area by Jim Curtin. But then just after the break, Damani Ralph expertly brought down a looped Andy Williams ball into the area before finishing with power to bring the Fire level (49).
But it took Columbus just six minutes to answer, Kyle Martino latching onto the ball in the area before skipping through a couple of defenders and rounding goalkeeper Henry Ring to slot home. Then four minutes later, Michael Ritch collected a good pass from Eric Denton before hammering a high drive past Ring for his first professional goal.
Crew coach Greg Andrulis made two changes to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 at home the weekend before. Robin Fraser returned from suspension to center the back three in place of Nelson Akwari, and Erick Scott came into attack for the injured Edson Buddle.
Here's Andrulis's team: Jon Busch - Steven Herdsman, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall - Frankie Hejduk, Simon Elliott, Ross Paule, Eric Denton - Kyle Martino (Duncan Oughton 73) - Erick Scott (Michael Ritch 25), Jeff Cunningham (David Testo 84).
Ritch was a late addition to the traveling team after striker Edson Buddle suffered a strained quadriceps in training on Saturday. He then came on after just 25 minutes when Scott suffered a bruised knee.
The Crew won for the first time since 1999 in Chicago. "Before the game, (Jeff Cunningham) challenged the team to get its first win here since '99," Andrulis said. "Congratulations to him. He challenged us to be better."
Ritch's goal was the first of the six the Crew have scored this season to have assists credited, as Simon Elliott first found Eric Denton with a long ball, who then laid it back for Ritch after holding off a defender in the box.
The Crew are going to be short in the midfield - and in players who can play in the holding role - as both Simon Elliott and Duncan Oughton have been called into New Zealand's national team for the Oceania Nations Cup in Australia. Oughton will miss the next two matches, while Elliott could be ruled out for the June 5 game.
"We're going to need guys to step up," Crew coach Greg Andrulis said. "It is unusual to lose two guys at the same position. This is going to be a chance to test our depth."
The Columbus Crew won for the second consecutive week - and extended their unbeaten run to four matches after opening the campaign with three losses - with a 3-1 victory away to Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon. The Crew moved out of last place in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season, leapfrogging the New England Revolution to move into fourth with eight points from seven matches, two points out of first.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The Quakes jumped out to a 3-0 lead shortly after the halftime interval, thanks largely to a pair of goals from Brian Ching. He first headed home a corner just before the break, then knocked home a Dwayne De Rosario cross with his chest from close range three minutes after the restart. Then in the 54th minute, Brian Mullan ripped a drive on the run from inside the area to triple the lead.
But the Galaxy, the league's most prolific attack this season, mounted a furious comeback. First Andreas Herzog collected a Joseph Ngwenya cross before firing home from 15 yards (61), then the Zimbabwean rookie hit for his second goal in as many matches, heading home a Ned Grabavoy free kick.
Yet just five minutes later the Quakes responded, DeRosario dancing through a host of Galaxy defenders from the left touchline before beating Kevin Hartman inside his near post to round out the scoring.
Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that defeated Dallas Burn 2-1 at the Cotton Bowl the weekend before, both due to injury. Ian Russell came in for Chris Brown on the left side of midfield, Brown out with an ankle sprain. Ronnie Ekelund was also out with a neck infection, Landon Donovan moved back to a schemer role in midfield as Dwayne DeRosario returned to the starting lineup, partnering Brian Ching in attack.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ian Russell - Landon Donovan - Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching.
It was a second consecutive goalfest at home for the Quakes, who drew 5-5 with the MetroStars in their last home match. "They looked a little leggy, but I thought we played some of the best stuff we've played all season going forward," Quakes goalkeeper Pat Onstad said.
Kinnear will have some serious selection issues this week. Goalkeeper Pat Onstad and striker Dwayne De Rosario will miss the Crew match while on international duty with Canada (who face Wales on Saturday). Jon Conway will make his league debut in Columbus.
But left-sided midfielder Chris Brown, defender Troy Dayak and midfielder Ronnie Ekelund are also not expected to be available, still recovering from injury, while left back Todd Dunivant has still not begun full training with the team after a preseason injury.
The San Jose Earthquakes won for the second consecutive match and ran their unbeaten streak to four matches in another wild shootout at Spartan Stadium, holding off the Los Angeles Galaxy for a 4-2 victory on Saturday night. The Quakes pulled to within three points of the Galaxy in the Western Conference, now in second place with 12 points from eight matches (and a game in hand).