When Columbus Crew SC takes on D.C. United at RFK Stadium Saturday, two of Major League Soccer’s originals will face off in what is expected to be a highly contested match between top teams in the Eastern Conference.
After 20 years of conference clashes, neither side has been able to dominate the all-time series (24-25-10). While D.C. has one more win on its record books, Crew SC reigned supreme over the past two seasons, winning three and tying two games.
Both teams have found their form early in the season, as they enter Saturday’s match having been undefeated in April with two wins and two draws each. And both teams lost their last match against the New York Red Bulls in March.
D.C. United’s 4-1-2 start to the season is its best since 2006. The club is unbeaten at home in 15 matches in all competitions, including 11 straight in regular season play.
“There are no teams that you take lightly, and D.C. with their veteran group, with their coaching staff, with the results they have had over the last year and a half, we know it’s going to be a difficult game,” Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said.
Both teams last met on June 7, 2014 at FedExField in a match that ended in a 0-0 draw. Steve Clark notched his third-ever MLS clean sheet in the contest, capped-off by a 96th-minute penalty save on Fabian Espindola’s chipped attempt.
Saturday’s match (7 p.m. ET) marks the first time that Jairo Arrieta will have the opportunity to take on Columbus Crew SC, where he had 17 goals and nine assists in 67 appearances over the last three seasons.
The match will be the first of three regular-season meetings in 2015. Crew SC is slated to return to the nation’s capital on September 19, while the Black-and-Red will visit Columbus in the regular-season finale on October 25.
D.C. United Quick Facts:
Regular Season Record: 4-1-2
Eastern Conference Rank: 2nd
Home Record: 2-0-2
Goals For: 8
Goals Against: 6
Current Run: 5 undefeated matches
Last Match: 2-1 at Vancouver Whitecaps
In addition to Crew SC's match versus D.C. United, don't miss this weekend's nationally broadcast games:
FIRST OF THREE
Columbus Crew SC and D.C. United are set to play their first of three regular-season meetings in 2015 with a showdown at RFK Stadium. Crew SC is slated to return to the nation’s capital on September 19, while the Black-and-Red visit Columbus in the regular-season finale on October 25. All-time, Crew SC is 24- 25-10 against D.C. United, with an 8-18-4 mark on the road. Over the last two seasons, the Black & Gold are unbeaten against the Black-and-Red (3-0-2), including a mark of 1-0-2 last season, when the teams met three times in three different stadiums.
LAST REGULAR SEASON MEETING
On June 7, 2014, Crew SC and D.C. United faced-off at FedExField in a match that would end in a 0-0 draw. Steve Clark notched his third-ever MLS clean sheet in the contest, capped-off by a 96th-minute penalty save on Fabian Espindola’s chipped attempt.
CREW SC ATTACK LEADING LEAGUE ...
Following the Black & Gold’s four-goal performance against Philadelphia, Crew SC now leads MLS in total goals, with 12. Columbus also ranks first in the League in goal differential (six) and assists (13). The Black & Gold have scored five of their 12 goals between minutes 46 and 60, leading the League in goal-scoring within that interval as well.
... AND HIGH-RANKING IN CLUB HISTORY
At the conclusion of the match against Philadelphia on April 25, Crew SC’s season tally of 12 goals represented the second-most goals the club had ever scored by that date in team history. The only year in which Crew SC notched at least 12 goals by a date earlier than April 25th was in 1998. On April 18 of that year, Columbus scored five times to top the Miami Fusion and bring that season’s total to 13 tallies at the time.
CREW SC WRAPS-UP UNBEATEN MONTH
The Black & Gold’s victory over Philadelphia gave the club a 2-0-2 record in April. The unbeaten month was the first for Columbus since September of 2014 (3-0-1). Overall, it was the fourth for Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter during his tenure as the Crew SC boss.
KAMARA MAKES 200TH APPEARANCE ...
With a start against the Union, Crew SC forward Kei Kamara recorded his 200th career MLS appearance. Kamara’s first MLS appearance came on April 1, 2006 for Columbus, where he scored a goal in his debut against Kansas City. The forward has gone on to make 43 total appearances for Columbus, with 12 for San Jose, 32 for Houston and 113 for Kansas City in his career.
... WHILE AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Kamara’s goal against the Philadelphia Union gave him five goals on the season. He is now tied for most in the League in the category alongside Vancouver’s Octavio Rivero. The Sierra Leone native is second in MLS in goals/match (0.71). Kamara also is second in MLS in total shots (31) and shots on goal (14).
CREW SC HAS TOP THREE PASSING PERFORMANCES
Against the Philadelphia Union, the Black & Gold passed to a team accuracy rate of 87.9%. That number is the second-highest passing accuracy mark achieved by any MLS club in any match this season. The Black & Gold’s passing performance against Orlando City SC (April 18) is currently the highest mark at 88.1%. Crew SC also holds the third-highest mark, with 87.1% passing against Toronto FC (March 14).
BACK-TO-BACK THREE-GOAL WINS
The Black & Gold defeated Orlando City SC by a 3-0 scoreline ahead of last weekend’s 4-1 win over Philadelphia. This marks the third time in club history that Columbus won back-to-back matches by three or more goals. The club achieved the feat in 1999 on July 24 (4-1 over Dallas) and August 1 (4-0 over Miami), and in 2014 on August 16 (4-1 over LA) and August 23 (3-0 over Houston).
CREW SC SCORES FOUR
Against Philadelphia, Crew SC tallied four goals in a match for the first time since August 16, 2014 vs. the LA Galaxy. Overall, it was the 28th time that the Black & Gold have scored at least four times in a regular-season match. Crew SC is now 26-2-0 in all-time MLS regular-season play when scoring four or more goals.
POSSESSION, PASSING, CHANCES
Crew SC has continued its strong passing and possession play in 2015. According to the League’s official statistician, Opta, Crew SC leads the League in chances created per match (12.1) and big chances created per match (1.6). The Black & Gold also rank second overall in MLS in passing accuracy (82.1%) and third overall in possession (54.0%).
FRANCIS, SAEID LEADING LEAGUE IN PASSING
Among the League’s most accurate passers (min. 100 passes attempted), the top two are members of the Black & Gold. Defender Waylon Francis (93.8%) and midfielder Mohammed Saeid (91.6%) both rank atop the League in passing accuracy.
Following his three shots attempted against Philadelphia, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara ranks second in MLS in shots/match (4.4) and in total shots (31) .
BERHALTER DEBUT FOR BLACK & GOLD
The Crew takes the field on Saturday under the leadership of Gregg Berhalter as the Sporting Director and Head Coach begins his MLS coaching career after coaching Swedish side Hammerby IF.
CREW BEGINS 19TH MLS CAMPAIGN
The Columbus Crew begins its 19th MLS season and enters the year with an overall regular-season record of 233-222-105 ... Saturday’s match (March 8) marks the sec-ond earliest Crew season start date in club history, six days after last season’s March 2 opener ... as a point of reference, the latest the Crew started a season was its inaugural campaign – alongside nine other charter teams – when Columbus opened play on April 13, 1996.
SEASON-OPENER: FEAST OR FAMINE
The Crew has shut out their opponents in season openers six times and have been held scoreless in the first 90 minutes four times ... the largest margin of victory was the Crew’s first-ever game – a 4-0 win against D.C. on April 13, 1996 ... the team’s largest deficit was a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on March 18, 2000 ... the Crew stormed to a 3-0 defeat of Chivas USA last season on March 2 in Carson, Calif.
PAPA DOM WILL BE OUT FOR SEASON-OPENER
Fans of Freaky Fast Dominic Oduro must wait until the Crew’s Opening Match at Crew Stadium on March 22 to see the Ghanaian speedster ... Oduro was issued a red card for a foul in the 90th minute of the regular-season finale against New England on October 27 of last year and is set to serve the mandatory one-game suspension on Saturday in the club’s first tilt of 2014 ... the red card was the first of his career.
It's no surpise that three of Major League Soccer's most prolific scorers in Jeff Cunningham, Jaime Moreno and Brian McBride have done the most damage in the long-standing rivalry between the Columbus Crew and D.C. United. During his time with the Black & Gold, McBride tallied 11 times against United in the rivalry's early days. Moreno was always a thorn in the Crew's side for United, finding the net 15 times in 37 career regular season matches with D.C. against Columbus. As MLS' all-time leading scorer, Cunningham scored five times against D.C. United while playing with the Crew. In total, Cunningham scored 11 times against United.
Eddie Gaven leads all active Crew players with two goals in the rivalry. Gaven also tallied twice against United with the NY/NJ MetroStars, including his first career goal coming on a game-winner against D.C. after entering the match as an emergency goalkeeper. Both of Gaven's goals for the Black & Gold have come in the Crew's last five matches against United.
On the D.C. side, forward Carlos Ruiz has scored 10 times against the Black & Gold. In his first season with United, he has yet to score against the Crew for the Black-and-Red. Six current United players have each scored one goal in the rivalry.
All-Time Leading Scorers vs. D.C. United
*Active player, Played for Crew
|3||Brian McBride (11 with Crew)||12|
|4||Jeff Cunningham (5 with Crew)||11|
All-Time Leading Scorers vs. Columbus Crew
*Active player, Played for D.C. United
|2||Jaime Moreno (All with D.C.)||15|
|3||Raul Diaz Arce (5 with D.C.)||12|
|5||Carlos Ruiz* (0 with D.C.)||10|
While reading a blog entry about life in Montreal written by Impact rookie Andrew Wenger on a Duke University website for a Soccer and Politcs class, I stumbled upon a well-written research paper by current Crew midfielder Cole Grossman written during his time as a Blue Devil about soccer in Africa. Written in 2009, Grossman looks at the future of soccer on the African continent following the 2010 World Cup.
Check it out here.
Photo courtesy of Duke Athletics.