MLS Regular Season
MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle preview the Saturday evening match between the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls. Is Roy Miller the best left back in MLS? Do the Red Bulls have an answer for the overlapping Columbus fullbacks? Find out Saturday at 730 p.m. ET on MLS Live.
RIDING A TWO-MATCH UNBEATEN STREAK ...
The Crew enters Saturday’s match with a two-match unbeaten streak following a pair of 1-1 draws the last two weekends ... after scoring a first-half goal in San Jose before finishing 1-1 on April 13, the Crew earned a point with a 90th-minute goal in the 1-1 result against D.C. United at home on April 19.
... AND LOOKING FOR SECOND TRIO OF UNBEATEN TILTS IN 2014
Should the Crew extend its unbeaten streak to three matches, it would mark the second time in 2014 that the team has been able to do so entering its seventh match on Saturday ... previously, the club opened the campaign with a historic 3-0-0 start with road wins at D.C. (March 8) and Seattle (March 29) book-ending a home-opener win against Philadelphia on March 22.
COMING OFF OF BACK-TO-BACK DRAWS
Last season, the Crew played to a pair of back-to-back draws throughout the year and struggled in the following match -- something the Black & Gold had not done in previous years ... in 2013, the Crew was 0-2-0 in the next match following consecutive draws but was 1-0-0 in 2012, 1-0-0 in 2011 and 2-1-1 in 2009 in games following a pair of deadlocked tilts.
BUILDING OFF A HOME DRAW
After a 1-1 result at Crew Stadium against D.C. last weekend, the Crew looks to build off of a point in its next home match ... in 2013, the Crew went 1-1-1 following a home draw, securing points in two of the next three matches that immediately followed three individual Crew Stadium draws.
BACK ON THE ROAD
For the second time in three matches, the Crew takes to the road for an early-season test ... the Black & Gold are looking for their first back-to-back road wins since 2010 when an four-day span in May saw wins at New York (May 20) and Kansas City (May 23).
LOOKING FOR HISTORIC HOT START AWAY FROM HOME
Following the 3-0 win at D.C. United in the first away match of 2014, the Crew has a chance on Saturday to accomplish something the team has been unable to do in more than 10 years: win its first two road games of a campaign ... the last time the club won its first two tilts away from Crew Stadium was in 2003 with April wins at New York (April 12) and at New England (April 19).
STOPPING BY SIGI’S HOUSE...
Saturday marks another match against former Crew boss Sigi Schmid and the man that helped lead the Crew to its first MLS Cup victory in 2008 ... Schmid held a record of 44-33-25 in three seasons in Columbus from 2006-2008.
... AND FAMILIAR FACES IN MARSHALL, EVANS
Saturday marks the first time that Chad Marshall faces his former club ... last December, the Crew traded Marshall to Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for allocation money and a 2015 Third Round SuperDraft selection ... Marshall played in more minutes (22,220), matches (253) and seasons (10) than anyone else in the Black & Gold's 19-year history ... Brad Evans also began his MLS career with the Crew and following his rookie season in 2007, his 26 appearances and five goals helped the Crew to a 2008 MLS Cup title run ... Evans, however, has seen his former club since joining Seattle in 2009.
SHARP PASSES, SMART PASSES OVERALL ...
Through a pair of matches in 2014, the Crew leads MLS in passing accuracy ... Saturday’s opponent -- Seattle -- sits just behind the Crew in sixth among the top third of MLS ... a full breakdown of Opta statistics is below:
Team ............................................... Passing Accuracy
Columbus Crew .............................. 82.94
LA Galaxy ........................................ 80.82
Philadelphia Union ........................ 79.66
Real Salt Lake .................................. 79.33
New York Red Bulls........................ 79.09
Seattle Sounders FC ....................... 78.89
A WIN WOULD MAKE RARE CREW HISTORY ...
A win on Saturday would make for an odd statistical Crew record not achieved in the club’s first 18 years of existence ... the Black & Gold have never opened the season with back-to-back wins ... opening with consecutive victories may be a rare feat, but opening the season unbeaten after two games is not ... most recently in 2010, the club rattled off an eight-game clip of unbeaten soccer, posting an 6-0-2 run through the third week of May.
... BUT TAKE IT ONE GAME AT A TIME
The Crew opened the Gregg Berhalter era with a victory in Gregg Berhalter’s MLS coaching debut ... the Sporting Director and Head Coach began his MLS coaching career after coaching at Swedish side Hammerby IF ... said Berhalter postgame after his first win, “It was a great way to get started ... the emphasis was on starting and playing our game from minute one. I think we did that ... we went out there and we were brave and wanted to play ... when I look at going on the road and controlling the opponent, I think we did well. We scored two fantastic goals on the road and I’m happy with our overall performance.”
BERHALTER AMONG CREW COACHES WITH WINS IN CLUB DEBUTS
Gregg Berhalter, the seventh Head Coach -- and first Sporting Director -- in club history, led the Black & Gold to a win in his first game on the sidelines ... with the win, the Crew is now 5-1-2 all-time in the historic first match under a new coaching tenure, securing points in all but one debut (Sigi Schmid, 2005).
TOUGH TO BEAT GOOD DEFENSE
The Black & Gold blanked D.C. United, 3-0, in the first regular-season test of 2014 ... the Crew saw Philadelphia in the preseason during the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in a 1-0 win for the Crew on February 22 ... Columbus finished the 2014 preseason with a record of 4-0-1, competing in five matches and taking home a tournament title at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic ... the team’s lone draw came in a wild, back-and-forth 4-4 finish against USL-PRO side Orlando City SC to finish group play before a 4-1 victory over defending MLS Cup Champion Sporting KC on March 1.
Assistant Coach Pat Onstad previews Saturday's match against his former club, D.C. United.
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.