Neil Sika joins Matt Finkes every Wednesday on 95.5 The Game for Sika the Truth.
The Crew's 2-2 draw in Houston kept it relatively level in the weekly Power Rankings. With more huge intra-conference matches on tap, the Black & Gold have an opportunity to make a statement and climb the polls -- and more importantly, the Eastern Conference standings -- in the weeks to come.
See below for the Crew's rank as well as its previous position:
MLSsoccer.com: 10 (10)
ESPNFC: 11 (11)
SI.com: 11 (8)
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
With Dayton's season coming to an end last week, the last Crew loanee active in USL-PRO this year was Wilmington's Brad Stuver. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, he and the Hammerheads fell in the first round of the 2014 USL-PRO Playoffs to Sacramento Republic FC by a 4-1 final.
Stuver started and played all 90 minutes in the defeat, which was fueled by two goals from former Crew player Nemanja Vukovic.
All-told, the former Cleveland State Viking played the final 11 matches of Wilmington's season, compiling a 3-5-3 record with a 1.45 goals-against average. He also notched three clean sheets over the span, which came consecutively on August 30, September 3 and September 5.
Photo Credit: USL-PRO
Wil Trapp's long-distance strike in Saturday's 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo is nominated for AT&T Goal of the Week on MLSsoccer.com. Trapp's first career tally is up against the likes of FC Dallas' Blas Perez, Portland Timbers FC's Diego Veleri, the New England Revolution's Lee Nguyen and Seattle Sounders FC's Lamar Neagle in Week 27.
Voting runs until 2:59 pm ET on Fridays.
Federico Higuain continues to lead MLS in corner kicks this season (119). His career high for a single season was 123 last year, which he is on-pace to potentially break. Overall, Higuain is third on the Crew’s all-time list for corners, trailing Robert Warzycha (503) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (423).
Always looking to create, Federico Higuain ranks second in Major League Soccer in passes in the final third with 659. Higuain trails Javier Morales (652) of Real Salt lake by just three passes in the final third entering this week.
Crew captain Michael Parkhurst continues to lead Major League Soccer this season in passing accuracy among all defenders that have played at least 20 matches this season. The MLS All-Star has completed 87.53 percent of his passes and has worn the armband in 26 tilts for the Black & Gold in 2014.
LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN IN DYNAMO’S NEW HOME
The Black & Gold return to BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday for the second time in 2014 ... after falling in the first match in Houston -- a 1-0 Dynamo win on May 7 -- the Crew looks to secure its first win at the Dynamo venue that opened in 2012 ... in the three previous meetings at the venue, the Crew (0-2-1) has battled, with losses coming in just one or two-goal margins on top of the draw in the first meeting on August 19, 2012.
FIVE GAMES, FIVE GOALS FOR MERAM
Justin Meram has been on a scoring tear, registering five goals over the last five matches dating back to August 9 against Toronto FC ... Meram recorded a tally in three straight matches from August 9 - August 23 and returned with a brace following the shutout loss at Montreal.
MERAM MAGIC ...
Justin Meram scored his seventh goal of the season to open the scoring in 3-0 win over Chivas USA on September 7 … Meram has scored a goal in four of the club’s last five matches ... of Meram’s 12 career goals since 2011, seven of them have come in 2014.
... AND JUSTIN HAS BEEN PRODUCTIVE
Of midfielders in MLS that have played at least 20 games this season, Justin Meram enters the week ranked first in minutes per goal scored (165.43) ... a look at Opta numbers is below, showing that Meram has scored once every 1.8 matches for the Crew.
**Numbers entering the week as of 9/8/14