Week off before Crew host Houston

After suffering just its fourth loss of the season - which is tied for the fewest in the league - the Crew will now enjoy a bye weekend in advance of a marquee top-of-the-table match-up with West-leading Houston at Crew Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 13. The 1-0 setback at New York, on Sunday (Aug. 30) was the Crew's first league defeat since June 20 and second since April 5.

The Crew will be celebrating both Hispanic Heritage Day and Faith & Family Night on Sept. 13 with the first annual "Carnival Crew" from 3:30-5 p.m., which will showcase authentic handmade cultural merchandise, food vendors and a dance group on the Crew Kicker Plaza, and a post-game concert featuring Christian bands, respectively.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium will also be on hand for pregame festivities, and its Director Emeritus, Jack Hanna, is scheduled to appear with a variety of animals and zoo mascots on the Crew Kicker Plaza.

Following the match, the concert will be held on Crew's Stadium's permanent north-end stage. 'This Beautiful Republic' will open the concert shortly after the conclusion of the match, and will be followed by several Crew players who will share their personal testimonies. Featured band, 'Pillar,' will then take the stage for the main event.

This Beautiful Republic, which got its start in Toledo, Ohio, released its first album, "Even Heroes Need Parachutes," in 2007 and followed that with "Perceptions" in 2008. Dove and Grammy-nominated rock act Pillar recently completed recording its sixth album, "Confessions" - which features the singles "Secrets and Regrets" and "Fire on the Inside" - and is set to release on Sept. 22.

Houston (11-7-7, 40 pts.) currently leads the race for the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team with the most overall standings points regardless of conference, by a single point over Columbus (10-4-9). However, the Crew's 39 points have come in two fewer games. Houston also has a bye this weekend.

Crew defender Chad Marshall, midfielder Robbie Rogers and forward Alejandro Moreno each departed the squad following last Sunday's (Aug. 30) match at New York to join their respective national teams for upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches. Marshall, the reigning MLS Player of the Month, and Rogers have joined the U.S. Men's National Team in Salt Lake City, Utah, in preparation for matches against El Salvador on Sept. 5 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 9 at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Meanwhile, Moreno has joined the Venezuelan National Team for matches against Chile on Sept. 5 at Estadio Nacional just outside of Santiago, Chile, and Peru on Sept. 9 at Estadio Olímpico Luis Ramos in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. The U.S. currently sits in third place with a 3-2-1 record (10 pts.) in the WC Qualifying standings for the CONCACAF region, while Venezuela is currently tied for seventh place with a 5-7-2 record (17 pts.) in the CONMEBOL (South America) region standings.

Despite only a brief appearance in the Crew's match at New York last Sunday (Aug. 30), reigning MLS MVP and 2009 MLS All-Star First XI selection Guillermo Barros Schelotto continues to sit tied for second place among MLS goal-scoring leaders. Colorado's Conor Casey is currently first on the list with 11 goals, followed by Schelotto, who leads the Crew in goals this season, along with Seattle's Fredy Montero, L.A.'s Landon Donovan and Salt Lake's Robbie Findley, who all have 10. They are followed on the list by Dallas' Jeff Cunningham, New York's Juan Pablo Angel and Dwayne De Rosario of Toronto, who each have nine goals in 2009.

The Crew Soccer Foundation, the Crew's charitable arm, will hold its third annual Sports Memorabilia Auction and Raffle in the southwest corner of the Stadium Club before and during the Crew's match on Saturday, Sept. 26 vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy. More than 80 unique collectibles will be available from stars throughout the sports world, with all proceeds supporting Crew Soccer Foundation programming for central Ohio youth and families including the Referee Scholarship Program, Kicks for Kids, inner-city soccer field development and the GOALS for KIDS handbook curriculum.

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