MLS Regular Season
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.
LAMPSON STEPS IN AND LENDS A HAND
With Andy Gruenebaum sidelined with a shoulder injury, Matt Lampson made his second start of the season last Saturday at Houston ... although the 23-year-old suffered the loss, his one save earned him a “Save of the Week” nomination ... Lampson is now 1-1-0 on the year with a 1.50 goals against average and one shutout -- a cleansheet that he earned in his last Crew Stadium start on July 7 (a 1-0 victory against Portland).
VIANA WITH A SECOND START
Agustin Viana made his second consecutive start at leftback last Saturday at Houston, a promising sign for the Crew newcomer ... the start was Viana’s 10th of the current campaign. ... Viana returned to the starting lineup at Toronto on July 27 for the first time in exactly three months after battling a hamstring injury suffered against D.C. United on April 27.
CREW REMAINS POSITIVE THAT RESULTS WILL COME
Following a tough 3-1 loss at Houston on August 3, Crew players remained optimistic about turning it around this weekend against New York ... Ryan Finley, playing an energetic 45 minutes off the bench, provided a spark for the Crew and led to an own goal received ... said Finley of the loss, “I think we’ve just got to get our heads up. I mean it’s definitely not a work ethic thing at practice or anything like that. I think you just get unlucky sometimes in this sport. The most important thing is we have to stay positive, we have to stay strong in the locker room” ... Dominic Oduro stressed the continued importance of teamwork to battle adversity in pursuit of three points, saying, “We just have to come out as a team right now. We have to stick together. We really have to work as a team. That’s the only way that’s going to work. We got to go back again and regroup. We can’t do it as individuals. But everybody out there, we just have to work as a team and hopefully it will work.”
The Crew will square-off against the New York Red Bulls for the third and final time this season when Thierry Henry and company visit Crew Stadium on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / TICKETS). The Black & Gold will look to even up the season series at 1-1-1 after losing and drawing in the first two meetings.
Here is a look back at the last match between the two clubs on May 26 at Red Bull Arena.
Dominic Oduro scored in the second minute of the match to give the Black & Gold an early lead, but had to leave the game after colliding with Red Bulls' goalkeeper Luis Robles. The home team evened things up just past the half-hour mark when Tim Cahill played a long ball over the top to Thierry Henry, who then chipped an oncoming Andy Gruenebaum. The Crew regained the lead in the 71st minute when Justin Meram drew a foul in the box, setting up Federico Higuaín's converted penalty to put the Black & Gold ahead 2-1. The Crew defense staved off several late New York surges, but the Red Bulls' pressure finally paid off in the 91st minute as Jámison Olavé provided a stunning left-footed volley past Gruenebaum to end the match at 2-2 and leave the Crew with one point from the trip to the Big Apple.