COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
7:30 pm ET (FSN-RM)
A Columbus Crew team that is suffering through a dismal stretch - especially defensively - entertains a Real Salt Lake that has won two consecutive matches while enjoying some home cooking. The Crew have allowed 14 goals over their last six matches while losing four games in a row, coming off their heaviest home defeat since the inaugural season of the league. Real haven't lost at home this season as the expansion club has risen to the .500 mark following a midweek win, but they are still looking for a first road victory in club history.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Chip Reed; 4th: Jeff Mellen
MLS Career: 111 games; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 29; pens: 19
Games involving Crew: P15 W7 L8 T0; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 3; pens: 2
Games involving Real: first game
INJURY REPORT: COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: MF Devin Barclay (R shoulder separation); GK Matt Jordan (lower back strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); PROBABLE: MF David Testo (L ankle sprain); DF Robin Fraser (L ankle sprain)
REAL SALT LAKE - OUT: GK Noah Palmer (R shoulder cartilage tear); PROBABLE: GK D.J. Countess (L shoulder subluxation); DF Rustin Pierce (L hamstring tightness); MF Leslie Fitzpatrick (L groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: CLB: MF Simon Elliott (20 CP); RSL: DF Nelson Akwari (10 CP in 2 gms); FW Jason Kreis (17 CP)
ALL-TIME first meeting
This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season, the only one in Columbus. They'll meet in Salt Lake City on Sept. 24.
Coaches record: Greg Andrulis vs. RSL: first meeting ... John Ellinger v RSL: first meeting
The Columbus Crew went down to defeat for the fourth match in a row, another early blitz sealing their doom in a 4-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew now reside in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with six points from seven matches, two behind joint-fourth place MetroStars and D.C. United and now fully 13 points behind East leaders New England Revolution.
The Wizards hit for three goals in nine minutes early in the match to cruise to victory. Alex Zotinca put the visitors ahead after 17 minutes, after Chris Klein had gotten to the endline and pulled back a low cross that the Romanian hammered off the inside of the post. Then Josh Wolff doubled the lead six minutes later, sent through by Davy Arnaud before hitting a shot high under the bar on the run.
Arnaud made it three in the 26th minute, this time Wolff playing provider, sending a low cross that his strike partner turned home from the heart of the goal area. Wolff capped the scoreline three minutes from full time, nearly losing the ball on a breakaway after rounding Busch but still able to recover and turn the ball home from an acute angle that deflected home off a Crew defender.
Crew coach Greg Andrulis made one change to the team that lost 3-1 the weekend before to D.C. United, but it was a fundamental one, as he changed from three in the back to a back four. Stephen Herdsman came into the team to partner Chad Marshall in central defense, Chris Wingert moving to left back while Danny Szetela returned to the substitutes bench.
Here's Andrulis's team (4-3-1-2): Jon Busch - Frankie Hejduk, Stephen Herdsman (Ante Razov 46), Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert - Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Domenic Mediate - Kyle Martino - Edson Buddle (Manny Lagos 72), Cornell Glen (Knox Cameron 63).
The change was short-lived, as Ante Razov came in for Herdsman at halftime, the Crew returning to their usual scheme.
"We're not going to point any fingers. We're a tight group and we're going to work through it. We're obviously going through a very difficult patch right now. But we believe in the guys in the locker room and believe we can get the job done," Andrulis said. "It's not the system. Everybody gets caught up in the X's and O's. It's execution, it's doing your job."
TEAM NEWSThe Crew have now lost four games on the trot where they've been leaking goals at an alarming rate. The league's second-best defense a year ago - with just 32 goals allowed in 30 games - they've allowed 11 goals in the last four losses. "Collectively, we're giving up too many opportunities," Crew keeper Jon Busch said. "It puts the defenders, all of us, under a lot of stress. You can only ask so much of the defenders when it's a total team effort in defending."
The 4-0 defeat by the Wizards was the heaviest defeat at home in Crew Stadium history, and the heaviest since a 4-0 loss to the MetroStars on June 30, 1996 at Ohio Stadium.
During the current four-game losing run, the Crew have never led. There has been no score for just short of a half, and the Crew have trailed by two goals or more for more than 200 minutes. "We're not giving ourselves the opportunity to win 1-0 like last year," goalkeeper Jon Busch said to The Columbus Dispatch. "We've put ourselves in a hole early every game trying to climb up a mountain."
"The early goals have been hurting us, no question," Andrulis said. "We have to chase the game, leaving ourselves vulnerable to the transition game. Even when that happens, we have to be stronger mentally not to give up the second goal. The first and second goals are within four or five minutes of each other, then we have to take more chances."
Cornell Glen joined the Trinidad & Tobago national team for its friendly on Wednesday against Alianza Lima of Peru.
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake got their revenge in the second meeting with expansion rivals Chivas USA at midweek, winning their second consecutive match with a 2-0 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Real are now in third place in the Western Conference with 11 points from seven matches, one behind the Lso Angeles Galaxy and four behind West leader FC Dallas.
Real scored a pair of goals two minutes apart in the first half while nearly completely shutting down the Chivas USA attack. Andy Williams gave the home side the lead on 27 minutes, Chris Brown bursting into the box from the right and pulling Brad Guzan off his line before sliding a pass across to Williams, who tapped home easily for his goal with RSL.
A pair of players making their first Real starts teamed up two minutes later. Jordan Cila got out of the corner before driving a low ball to the near post where Seth Trembly came sliding in to knock it home.
Chivas USA were held without a single shot on goal for the entire match, as Real 'keeper D.J. Countess wasn't called upon to make a save in his return to the lineup. He was saved by the woodwork, however, a 29th-minute shot from Hector Cuadros hitting the inside of the post before bouncing back to the RSL shot-stopper.
"One of the guys said winning's a habit. We wanted to come out and get a second win in a row and make winning a habit here, and that's what we did," said Trembly. "We worked hard and we battled, and when the chances came we finished. It's just about keeping that mentally of believing we should win every game."
Real head coach John Ellinger made three changes to the team that came back to knock off the Los Angeles Galaxy the Saturday before. D.J. Countess returned between the posts after missing a match through a shoulder injury, Jay Nolly returning to his backup role. With Leslie Fitzpatrick on international duty with Trinidad & Tobago, Seth Trembly went in wide on the left of midfield, while Jordan Cila came in up top for the suspended Jason Kreis.
Here's Ellinger's team (4-1-4-1): D.J. Countess - Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari - Brian Kamler - Chris Brown, Clint Mathis, Andy Williams (Leighton O'Brien 67), Seth Trembly (Jamie Watson 89) - Jordan Cila (Dipsy Selolwane 84).
"Defensively I thought the back four played great. I thought the back four, especially winning the aerial battle tonight was just exceptional," said Ellinger.
TEAM NEWSReal remained unbeaten at home, now with 10 points from their first four matches at Rice-Eccles Stadium. But on the road, Real has just one point from four matches. "We need to get a little mentally stronger and step up and get some points," Ellinger said.
For Williams, the goal was good reward for a second consecutive start after being benched. "Andy played at a different level tonight than the last game. Mentally he was into it," Ellinger said.
Trembly's match could also present a welcome problem for Ellinger on the left of midfield. Luke Kreamalmeyer started the season there, replaced by Fitzpatrick in the first XI after two matches, with Trembly getting his first start in Fitzpatrick's absence on Wednesday.
On the right side of midfield, Chris Brown has started to solidfy his place, getting his first assist on Wednesday. "Chris is getting better with every game," said Ellinger to the Deseret Morning News. " ... His performance has been one of the bright spots." Said Brown: "I think it's taken me a couple games. I've been playing up front the last couple years. ... I think it's taken me a few games to gel with (right back) Rusty (Pierce). Rusty helps me a lot. He's right there, covering for me. So, I think (the new position) is coming along, and I'm doing alright.
Both of Real's T&T internationals - Fitzpatrick and Rojas - started in T&T 1-0 loss to Alianza Lima on Wednesday, the first match in charge for technical director Leo Beenhakker. Fitzpatrick was taken off at halftime. Both are expected to rejoin the team in Columbus.