D.C. UNITED vs COLUMBUS CREW
RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.
March 8, 2014 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #2)
7 p.m. ET (TWCSN-OH)
A pair of clubs looking to put disappointing seasons behind them meet in an early test in the Eastern Conference as D.C. United play host to the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United fell from a playoff spot in 2012 to the league’s poorest record in 2013, the largest drop in points in MLS history. The Crew begin a new era with Gregg Berhalter installed as the bench boss, missing out on the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second straight season last year.
REFEREE: Andres Pfefferkorn. SAR (bench): Yevgeniy Mednikov; JAR (opposite): Stefan McHardy; 4th: TBA
MLS Career: First game.
SUSPENDED: CLB: Dominic Oduro (through March 9)
DISABLED LIST: CLB: Matthew Wiet
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (56 meetings): United 25 wins (5 shootout), 81 goals … Crew 23 wins (0 shootout), 81 goals … Ties 8
AT RFK STADIUM (28 meetings): United 18 wins (3 shootout), 57 goals … Crew 7 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals … Ties 3
RETURN MATCHES: 4/19: Columbus Crew vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.; 6/7: D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m.
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/23: DC 1, CLB 2 (Teixeira 22 – Williams 15; Speas 58)
4/27: CLB 3, DC 0 (Oduro 15; Williams 26; Higuain 47+)
- The Crew won both meetings between the teams a season ago, winning 2-1 at RFK Stadium on March 23, and 3-0 at Crew Stadium on April 27.
- United haven’t won in Columbus since 2007, a span of five matches (0-4-1). They saw a three-game winning streak in Washington snapped in the first meeting a year ago.
- One of the league’s longest-running rivalries, the clubs met three times in the first four seasons in the MLS Cup Playoffs (1997, ’98, ’99) – United advancing on each occasion – but haven’t met since.
- Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. CLB: P8 W3 L5 T0 … Gregg Berhalter vs. DC: first game
Following the single-biggest decline in points in a single season in MLS history, D.C. United are looking for a new start in 2014. Ben Olsen does return for his fourth full season in in charge of the club, having taken over during the 2010 season.
- D.C. United come into the 2014 campaign off another victory in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C., following their 2-2 draw with Seattle on Saturday in the tourney finale. United went 1-0-2 in the week-long event, also defeating Houston 2-0.
- Fabian Espindola scored the opening goal for United, then set up Perry Kitchen for the second.
- Here’s the United team in the preseason finale: Andrew Dykstra, Sean Franklin, Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Christian Fernandez, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Luis Silva (Lewis Neal 84'), Nick DeLeon (Kyle Porter 79'), Fabian Espindola (Victor Munoz 84'), Conor Doyle.
- “This is a very hungry group,” said Olsen. “It’s going to take time to get everybody on the same page from a soccer standpoint, but there’s a lot of character and charisma on this team, and it’s now starting to show itself. I’m very excited.”
- Espindola is part of a new-look strike force for United that also includes Eddie Johnson, who was acquired from Seattle Sounders FC in the offseason.
- “This works great for me,” Espíndola said. “I like to be outside, he’s more of an in-the-box guy even though he can go outside as well. His speed is great, too – I feel very comfortable with it.”
- Said Olsen: “I don’t know why this is a surprise. He’s a good guy – and he’s fitting in. He’s an emotional guy, like a lot of players in this league. He’s got character. I don’t mind the emotion. On the field, he takes us to another level.”
- The offseason also acquisition of MLS veterans in Davy Arnaud (from Montréal), Sean Franklin (last with LA Galaxy), Bobby Boswell (last with Houston), Jeff Parke (from Philadelphia) and Nana Attakora (last with Toronto).
- "There is a lot to build on." said Olsen. "Each time we get out there, we’ve grown and gotten better. It’s just important for us as a staff to see that – and it's especially important for the players to see that we're moving in the right direction."
IN: MF Davy Arnaud (12/10/13 - trade from Montreal); DF Sean Franklin (12/12/13 - Re-Entry Stage 1); DF Bobby Boswell (12/12/13 - Re-Entry Stage 1); FW Conor Doyle (12/13/13 - transfer from Derby County); FW Eddie Johnson (12/17/13 - trade from Seattle); FW Fabian Espindola (12/18/13 - Re-Entry Stage 2); DF Jalen Robinson (1/6/14 - Homegrown); DF Nana Attakora (1/9/14 - Re-Entry Stage 2); DF Jeff Parke (1/14/14 - trade from Philadelphia); DF Steve Birnbaum (1/16/14 - SuperDraft); FW Christiano François (1/24/14 - waiver draft); DF Christian Fernández (2/7/14 - free); MF Alex Caskey (3/4/14 - trade with Seattle)
OUT: FW Carlos Ruiz (10/30/13 - option declined); FW Lionard Pajoy (10/30/13 - option declined); MW Marcelo Saragosa (10/30/13 - option declined); MF Dwayne De Rosario (10/31/13 - option declined); MF Syamsir Alam (11/1/13 - option declined); DF James Riley (12/9/13 - option declined); MF John Thorrington (12/9/13 - option declined); DF Daniel Woolard (12/9/13 - option declined); DF Dennis Iapichino (12/9/13 - out of contract); DF Dejan Jakovic (1/14/14 - transferred to Shimizu S-Pulse); DF Ethan White (1/14/14 - traded to Philadelphia); FW Casey Townsend (2/19/14 - waived); GK Joe Willis (2/27/14 - loaned to Richmond); MF Collin Martin (2/27/14 - loaned to Richmond); FW Christiano François (2/27/14 - loaned to Richmond)
The Columbus Crew enter the 2014 season looking to snap a two-year drought in reaching the MLS Cup Playoffs – after having reached the postseason in every season since 2007. Gregg Berhalter has come back to North America from Sweden, taking charge of the Crew in his first MLS head coaching position, replacing Robert Warzycha.
- The Crew concluded their preseason with an undefeated record, winning the Disney Pro Soccer Classic following a 4-1 win against Sporting KC in Saturday’s tournament finale.
- Jairo Arrieta, Bernardo Anor, Justin and Federico Higuaín all scored for the Crew, who completed their preseason undefeated in five matches.
- Here’s the Crew team: Steve Clark; Josh Williams, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis; Hector Jimenez (Adam Bedell, 86'), Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani, Bernardo Anor ; Federico Higuaín, Jairo Arrieta (Justin Meram, 64').
- “I think we made some progress during that two weeks [in Orlando],” Berhalter said. “The emphasis more was on playing games than training, and we wanted to push the minutes with some of the guys and we did that. So overall, I'm pleased with the development of the team, and I think we made some good steps forward.”
- The preseason finale featured two of the Crew’s main offseason acquisitions in the back with Costa Rican internationals Giancarlo Gonzalez in central defense and Waylon Francis at left back. As well, MLS returnee Michael Parkhurst slotted into at center back.
- “We've gotten a little bit younger, in terms of that group,” Berhalter said. “And maybe a little more high profile, with internationals, and we've probably reduced the spending a little bit, so that's good.”
- Both Gonzalez and Francis were called into Costa Rica’s team for their midweek friendly against Paraguay. A third potential World Cup campaigner, striker Jairo Arrieta, was not requested by Costa Rica.
- “For [Francis], this is a good opportunity to put himself in position to make the World Cup team shortly before the World Cup,” Berhalter said over the phone from Orlando. “For [Gonzalez], he has a good standing in the team, and it's a chance for him to perform again at a good level against a good team in Paraguay.”
IN: GK Brad Stuver (11/25/13 - Waiver Draft); D Waylon Francis (11/26/13 - Discovery); DF Matt Wiet (11/26/13 - Homegrown); MF Daniel Paladini (12/12/13 - trade from Chicago); GK Steve Clark (12/16/13 - trade from Seattle); DF Ross Friedman (1/8/14 - Homegrown); MF Matt Walker (1/8/14 - Homegrown); DF Michael Parkhurst (1/13/14 - rights acquired from New England); MF Hector Jimenez (1/14/14 - trade from LA Galaxy); DF Ben Sweat (2/14/14 - SuperDraft); MF Kingsley Baiden (2/14/14 - SuperDraft); DF Giancarlo Gonzalez (2/21/14 - transfer from Valerenga); FW Adam Bedell (3/5/14 - SuperDraft)
OUT: MF Eddie Gaven (10/31/13 - retired); MF Matías Sánchez (10/31/13 - waived); FW Aaron Horton (10/31/13 - waived); DF Drew Beckie (11/22/13 - option declined); DF Gláuber (11/22/13 - option declined); DF Kyle Hyland (11/22/13 - option declined); MF Danny O’Rourke (11/22/13 - option declined); MF Konrad Warzycha (11/22/13 - option declined); DF Chad Marshall (12/12/13 - traded to Seattle); GK Andy Gruenebaum (12/16/13 - traded to Kansas City); GK Daniel Withrow (3/1/14 - waived)