MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle preview the Saturday night match between the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew. Should the Crew switch to a diamond midfield? Is Fanendo Adi the savior in the Pacific Northwest?
BACK ON THE ROAD
Saturday’s match marks the Crew’s fourth match of May and third away from Crew Stadium ... the team is looking to snap a three-match losing streak and return to winning ways on the road ... the Crew is 2-2-1 in road tilts in 2014 and is unbeaten (1-0-1) when leading at halftime of those matches ... the Black & Gold return home for a May 24 clash against Chicago before a final road match of May at Toronto FC on May 31.
GREAT HONOR FOR THE CREW ...
The Columbus Crew announced on Monday that three players have been named to 30-man preliminary rosters ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including club captain Michael Parkhurst (United States Men’s National Team) as well as defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis (Costa Rican National Team) ... forward Jairo Arrieta has also been named as an alternate for Costa Rica’s provisional roster ... “We are proud of our players as they prepare to represent the Columbus Crew in their respective National Team camps,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “The possibility of representing your nation in the FIFA World Cup is our sport’s highest honor, and we’re thrilled for our players that now have this opportunity. We wish them every success ahead of this summer’s tournament.”
... BUT LINEUP CHANGES REQUIRED FOLLOWING DEPARTURES
Michael Parkhurst (United States) and Waylon Francis (Costa Rica) have departed for National Team camp for their respective countries, with Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica) set to leave after this weekend’s match ... therefore, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has two spots to fill on the backline this weekend.
ADDITIONAL REINFORCEMENTS AVAILABLE
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has several options to replace Waylon Francis and Michael Parkhurst on the backline this weekend ... in addition to veteran depth, the Crew recalled Kevan George and Ben Sweat from loan at USL-PRO affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions ... Sweat was on a game-by-game loan and started two matches while George had been with Dayton since March, earning significant playing experience.
The Crew returns home after a two-match road trip to face the Portland Timbers on Sunday night (5:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio). Before the two sides meet this weekend, here is a look back at their lone meeting in 2012.
The Crew kicked off a six-match unbeaten streak last season with a 0-0 road draw against the Portland Timbers. Andy Gruenebaum made seven saves in goal to deny the Timbers and help the Black & Gold to a hard-earned road point. The Crew would go on to secure 11 points from its next five matches.