Just like last season, the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy will meet just once this season due to the unbalanced MLS schedule. Before the two MLS charter members meet at the StubHub Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), here is a look back at the teams' matchup in 2012.
In the Crew's first match following the death of rookie midfielder Kirk Urso, an emotionally charged Black & Gold dictated the play early to force numerous attempts on goal in the first half. The Crew finally got a greakthrough early in the second half as Jairo Arrieta beat Josh Suanders to give the home team the lead after 47 minutes. Just after the hour mark, an in-form Robbie Keane equalized to level the game at one. Despite several late chances from both sides, the score remained deadlocked through 90 minutes to give the Crew a point at home.
On the heels of its Military Appreciation Night on June 22, the Crew joined forces with Operation Buckeye to help prepare care packages that will be sent to servicemen and women overseas. Players and staff spent Wednesday afternoon filling boxes with food, toiletries and letters of encouragement to help brighten soldiers' spirits while they serve the United States Military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have to be thankful for everything the troops do for us," Crew midfielder Justin Meram said. "Anyway I can help give back to them, I will do it. Without them our country wouldn't be so great.
"We have to do everything we can to make their days better. They're out there with just water and not much to eat. These are the times when we need to help and make those days a little bit easier for them."
Last year alone, Operation Buckeye sent over 5,000 boxes overseas to troops stationed overseas. For more information, visit OperationBuckeye.org.
The Crew and Sporting Kansas City split their three meetings in 2012 right down the middle with each team claiming one match apiece while the finale ended in a draw. Before the two original MLS rivals meet for the first time in 2013, here is a look back at the three battles from last season.
A seventh-minute Jacob Peterson tally gave Sporting an early lead in a midsummer clash between the two midwestern rivals at Crew Stadium. While the Crew created several prime chances in search of an equalizer, Kansas City's All-Star goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was there to deny the Black & Gold each time. Top-of-the-table Sporting's victory was sealed in the 82nd minute when striker Teal Bunbury finished a Kansas City counterattack to beat Andy Gruenebaum in net.
Despite Kansas City forward Kei Kamara's early goal, the Crew's only trip to Sporting Park in 2012 was the coming out party of newly signed Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta. The forward tallied twice to help the Black & Gold overcome an early deficit, including a 30-yard laser past Nielsen to give Columbus the 2-1 lead in the 34th minute. Playing in front of his hometown crowd, Kansas City native Andy Gruenebaum made five crucial saves amid a Sporting onslaught late in the match to preserve the Crew victory.
Just like the first two matches before, Sporting Kansas City scored within the first 10 minutes against the Crew to put the Black & Gold on their heels early. With its playoff chances waning, Eddie Gaven's stoppage-time near-post header past Nielsen was enough to keep the Crew's postseason dreams alive for the time being.
Crew midfielder Wil Trapp wore the captain's armband and played 90 minutes in the United States' 1-1 draw with France in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Monday. After two matches, the U.S. is in third place in Group A of the tournament on one point. The U.S. has one match against Ghana remaining in group play on Thursday with a chance to advance to the knockout round.
Crew midfielder Wil Trapp and the United States will begin play in the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey on Friday against Spain (1:45 p.m. ET / ESPN2). The 20-year-old Gahanna native is coming off an impressive performance in the CONCACAF U-20 Championships back in March that saw him earn Best XI honors for the tournament. Trapp is likely to be an integral part of Head Coach Tab Ramos' plans in Turkey as the U.S. takes on Spain, France and Ghana in group play.
Without starters Jairo Arrieta (international duty), Eddie Gaven (torn ACL) and Gláuber (torn ACL), the Crew was able to put in a commanding performance in its 2-0 home victory against the first-place Montreal Impact in Week 16 of the 2013 MLS Season. Despite the win, the Black & Gold saw little movement in this week's Power Rankings across four national media outlets.
MLSSoccer.com: 13th (15th)
ESPNFC: 14th (14th)
Sports Illustrated: Not available as of Wednesday morning (13th)
ProSoccerTalk: 13th (13th)
Last week's ranking in parentheses.
For the third time in 2013, the Crew faces the Fire on Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio) in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup. Looking ahead to the weekend, let's revisit the rivals' previous two meeting this season at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Andy Gruenebaum made a season-high six saves to help keep the Black & Gold in the match, but an 83rd-minute Jeff Larentowicz tally was the deciding factor in the Crew's defeat to the Fire back in April. The Black & Gold were unable to muster a single shot on frame in the loss.
The Crew fought through losing defensive anchor Gláuber in the sixth minute to a torn left ACL to find the opening goal of the match via the head of midfielder Konrad Warzycha in the 22nd minute. Though the Black & Gold maintained most of the possession and dictated the tempo in the first half, the Fire was able to equalize six minutes later and eventually found the winner in the 79th minute on a goal scored by Patrick Nyarko to knock the Crew out of Open Cup play.
Making his third appearance for the LA Blues of USL PRO, on-loan Crew Homegrown forward Aaron Horton played 79 minutes in a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy Reserves on Saturday. The Lewis Center native saw multiple chances in front of net in the draw before being subbed-off in the second half for Chris Cortez, who netted the equalizer for the Blues in the 90th minute.
The Blues return to action on Sunday, June 23 against Dayton Dutch Lions FC at Titan Stadium on the Campus of Cal State Fullerton.
No matter where you may be in the world, chances are you'll be able to watch the Crew's match against the Montreal Impact on Saturday. The game will be available in over 100 countries worldwide. For local listings, check the list below.
Al Jazeera (Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen)
Arena Sport (Former Yugoslavia - except Slovenia)
Astro Supersport (Malaysia, Brunei)
Benfica TV (Portugal, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique)
Canal + (France)
C More (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden)
GSP TV (Romania)
Nex- Media (Indonesia)
Prisa TV (Spain)
Rightster (Clips WorldWide)
Setanta Africa (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros Islands, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St. Helena, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe)
Sport Klub (Hungary)
Šport TV (Slovenia)
Sportdigital.tv (Germany, Austria)
TEN Sports (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)
The Crew stood pat in Sports Illustrated and ProSoccerTalk's Power Rankings after Week 15's 3-0 loss in Philadelphia, but fell in ESPNFC and MLSSoccer.com's polls. With the first-place Montreal Impact coming to town on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes, FOX Sports Ohio), the Black & Gold have the chance to move up in the rankings with a victory.
MLSSoccer.com: 15th (13th)
ESPNFC: 14th (13th)
Sports Illustrated: 13th (13th)
ProSoccerTalk: 13th (13th)
Last week's ranking in parentheses.