MLS Match Preview: Crew vs. Rapids
The Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids have been unlikely foes in the MLS Cup Playoffs over the past few seasons, and the two clubs meet again in an interconference clash on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew come into the contest having had a long home undefeated streak put to an end last weekend in a 1-0 loss to New York. The Rapids hit the road after another 1-0 victory, this time a late win against Toronto FC in Colorado.
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. AR1 (bench): Daniel Belleau; AR2 (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 109 games; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 26; pens: 36
DISABLED LIST: COL: Diego CalderÃ¯Â¿Â½"n
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Glauber
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Federico Higuain ... COL: Hendry Thomas
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (36 meetings): Crew 11 wins (1 shootout), 44 goals ... Rapids 17 wins (2 shootout), 50 goals ... Ties 8
AT COLUMBUS (18 meetings): Crew 8 wins (1 shootout), 31 goals ... Rapids 6 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals ... Ties 4
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/10: COL 2, CLB 0 (Moor 44; Amarikwa 89)
This is the only league meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Rapids have won the last two meetings between the clubs in league play, including a 2-0 victory last March 10 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the only encounter a year ago. The teams also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs in both 2010 and 2011, the Rapids advancing on both occasions. Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. COL: P7 W3 L3 T1 ... Oscar Pareja vs. CLB: P1 W1 L0 T0
The Columbus Crew saw their long home undefeated streak put to an end, the New York Red Bulls getting the game's only goal for a victory Saturday afternoon at Crew Stadium. The Crew are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from 9 matches.
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The Crew had a tremendous opportunity to open the scoring in the 72nd minute. Eddie Gaven was tackled at the top of the box by New York defender Brandon Barklage, and referee Armando Villarreal pointed to the spot. But Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made a diving stop to his right from Federico HiguaÃ¯Â¿Â½ - n's penalty attempt.
Then in the 80th minute, the visitors found winner. Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made a save on a strike from the left side by Jonny Steele, but Tim Cahill was perfectly positioned to loop a header from the rebound over Gruenebaum and into the goal.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that rolled to a 3-0 victory against D.C. United at Crew Stadium. Tyson Wahl came in at left back in place of Agustin Viana. COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl (Ryan Finley 87) - Tony Tchani, Danny O'Rourke (Ben Speas 86) - Dominic Oduro (Konrad Warzycha 90), Federico Higuain, Eddie Gaven - Jairo Arrieta.
The Crew's 1-0 loss to New York on Saturday ended their home undefeated streak at 12 games, their first loss at Crew Stadium since last July 14. It was the club's longest home unbeaten run and second-longest in club history, since a 22-game streak that stretched over the end of the 2008 season and nearly the entirety of 2009. "I think it was [a difficult loss]. I think we played a good game but they won it. I think the penalty kick later on the in the game definitely helped [New York] - the goalie did a good job saving it, and then they were looking for an opportunity and with a lucky bounce they scored," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. After converting a penalty the week previous in the 3-0 win vs. D.C. United, Federico HiguaÃ¯Â¿Â½ - n saw one stopped, his first penalty miss in three attempts in MLS. "I think we were superior during the 90 minutes and all the chances we had, whether in [the run of] play, or the PK or free kicks, we weren't able to turn them into goals. [I'm] just sad," said HiguaÃ¯Â¿Â½ - n. " ... I had the opportunity to convert that into a goal and I just couldn't this time. Very sad after the situation that could have given the Crew a win but after that, all that's left is to keep working and to try to keep improving." Along with the penalty miss, the Crew were held without a goal from 12 restarts. They still lead MLS, along with FC Dallas, with five set-piece goals entering the week. I think [the Red Bulls] did a good job of defending [the Crew's set pieces]. I don't think anything was missing, I think we served a pretty good ball," said Warzycha. "I'm sure they watched the video and they know what we are capable of doing ... they defended well."
Tyson Wahl returned to the first XI at left back as AgustÃ¯Â¿Â½ - n Viana missed his first match of the season, after he was forced off after just 20 minutes of the D.C. United match with a hamstring strain.
"I thought we had the better of the game for large chunks of the game and they created very little. They're one of those teams that likes to build up and end with a shot on frame from inside the box and we knew that," said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. "They rely on combination play. I thought we did a good job - especially in the first half - of limiting. I don't think they had a shot. So, it's definitely tough when we create a few chances and our final, final ball just wasn't there."
The Colorado Rapids won for the first time in three matches, getting the game's only goal for a victory against Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 12 points from 10 matches.
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The game's lone goal came through some real misfortune four minutes from the end. TFC's Logan Emory slipped in his own box trying to defend a cross, and the unfortunate mistake gave substitute Edson Buddle enough time to blast the ball into the net.
Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin was credited with four saves in recording his third clean sheet of the season.
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Nathan Sturgis and Nick LaBrocca came into the midfield in place of Hendry Thomas and Jamie Smith. COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-3-2): Clint Irwin - Brian Mullan, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Nathan Sturgis (Deshorn Brown 79) - Nick LaBrocca (Martin Rivero 58), Dillon Powers, Danny Mwanga - Atiba Harris, Kamani Hill (Edson Buddle 46).
The Rapids won a third game this season by a 1-0 scoreline; they've also lost three games by 1-0. They've scored just one goal in six games this season, and have also been shut out on three occasions. "It's going to come. I think we know that," Edson Buddle said. "The good thing is that we are getting chances. It would be a bad thing if we weren't getting any chances. We have good players that find themselves in dangerous positions, and we'll put those chances away." Buddle scored his first goal in a Colorado uniform, giving the Rapids the win. Buddle came on as a halftime substitute, after missing back-to-back games with knee pain following three consecutive starts from March 30-April 13. "We spoke with the boys at halftime and we said we needed someone to put the ball in the back of the net," Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said. "That's why we brought him in. He's been there enough, and we know that he's not fit yet. We know he's in the process of getting back to the team." Said Buddle: "The knee is fine. I was able to calm it down that week I took off, and it feels great. Now I just need to get in shape. When I can continue to train, it makes it a lot easier to get in shape." The introduction started a flood of attacking substitutions by Pareja that also saw striker Deshorn Brown make his first appearance in three games and MartÃ¯Â¿Â½ - n Rivero come on for his second appearance of the season. The result was a nominal 4-2-4 scheme with Rivero and Dillon Powers as the attack-minded central midfield duo.
"We knew our fans wanted three points, and our team needed three points," Pareja said. "We needed a win at home so we threw all the guys up there and we created some options. ... It bounced our way today. I know the boys know how we won today, and that's encouraging." Added Buddle: "We are at home, so we are going to press, push forward. That's why we looked that way."
Goalkeeper Clint Irwin kept a clean sheet for the third time this season, all coming in the last five matches.
"I think we'd like to have more clean sheets than we do, even. We feel like we've given up some soft goals here and there, but it's training," said defender Drew Moor. "It does make it tough when you're having injuries, you have to move bodies around, but the way we train, it's all as a unit, it's all as a group. We're all on the same page, and that's important for games like this when you're missing some of your regulars."
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