Columbus Crew

Crew make first western trip

The Columbus Crew will make their first western voyage of the young season as they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening. While they knocked off the Los Angeles Galaxy -- widely considered to be the best in the West this season -- the Crew have also lost the only match on their travels this season, a dismal 3-0 loss to New England.

The away loss to the Revolution left the Crew and coach Greg Andrulis disappointed, but also with room for improvement.

"We need to keep playing better and getting better," said the Crew boss. "Hopefully, we can have a better result on the road than we had last time. At least, I hope we play better."

Potential drama may be eliminated as former Crew player Jeff Cunningham is likely to miss the match due to injury. The mercurial striker essentially scored as he walked on the pitch in the Rapids opening game, a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Wizards. However, Cunningham hasn't played since, and additionally, the Colorado club hasn't scored since that match.

This year has been more of the same from Colorado after their performance of a season ago, despite a new coach in Fernando Clavijo. The Rapids are the lowest scoring team in MLS with two goals from three games after a year where they averaged less than goal per game. But led by Joe Cannon between the pipes, Colorado is also not likely to allow many goals.

Still, the Crew are wary of Colorado's distinct hometown advantage. By training in the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains, the Rapids are theoretically able to handle its consequences better than the visiting opponents.

"Colorado is a difficult place to play," said Andrulis. "They have done very well at home."

The Crew have only defeated Colorado four times in 21 tries during the first nine MLS seasons. The history of Crew success in Denver is even worse. The Black & Gold have just a lone victory there, earned in 1999.

Andrulis will be forced into at least one change from the side that beat D.C. United on Saturday in Columbus. David Testo, a starter as a wide midfielder in the Crew's first three matches, is out with a left ankle injury.

Guatemalan international Mario Rodriguez has his paperwork finalized and will likely slot into the right midfield spot as Frankie Hejduk moves across the park. Such a switch would keep Ryan Kelly as the starting right back. Kelly looked a bit overmatched against D.C. and could find himself back on the substitute's bench. However, that move depends on the speed with which Chris Wingert recovers from an abdominal injury.

John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.