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) .
As part of the club’s Give Forward initiative, Crew SC players Ben Speas and Brad Stuver participated in Asbury Elementary School's annual "Right to Read" week on Thursday, April 23. The players had a blast reading and answering questions from over 100 Kindergarten and 1st grade students. Crew SC’s Give Forward initiative is presented by MAPFRE Insurance.
LAST REGULAR SEASON MEETING
On October 26, 2014, Crew SC and Philadelphia faced-off in the season finale at MAPFRE Stadium. The Black & Gold capped-off a perfect year against the Union by winning the contest, 2-1. Zach Pfeffer’s 85th-minute equalizer nearly gave Philadelphia a late draw, but Bernardo Anor won it for Columbus in the 90th.
HISTORIC SUCCESS AGAINST PHILADELPHIA
Crew SC enters this match with an 8-3-1 record against the Union all-time (25 out of a possible 36 points, 69.4%). That figure represents Columbus’ second-highest points-earned percentage against any current MLS opponent (min. two matches played). The Black & Gold only have a higher winning percentage against the Montreal Impact (70.4%).
GALL, SWANSON CALLED-UP
Crew SC midfielders Romain Gall and Ben Swanson are set to be unavailable for this match against Philadelphia after receiving call-ups to the United States Under-20 and Under-18 National Teams, respectively. Gall earned a call-up to the U-20 National Team camp in Linz, Austria on April 17, and is set to be with the team through April 26. Swanson, meanwhile, received a call-up to the U-18 National Team camp in Medugorge, Bosnia & Herzegovina through May 1.
KAMARA APPROACHING 200 APPEARANCES ...
Should he see any action in this match against Philadelphia, Crew SC forward Kei Kamara will have hit 200 career MLS appearances. 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 42 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 Orlando City SC gave him four goals on the season. He is now one of three players tied for second in the League in the category. The Sierra Leone native also is tied for third in MLS in goals/game (0.67). Kamara also has the overall MLS lead in total shots (28) and is tied for the League lead in shots on goal (13).
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 (95.1%) and midfielder Mohammed Saeid (90.0%) both rank atop the League in passing accuracy.
CREW SC SETS LEAGUE MARK
Against Orlando City SC, the Black & Gold passed to a team accuracy rate of 88.1%. That number is the single-highest passing accuracy mark achieved by any MLS club in any match this season. Crew SC also holds the second-highest mark, with 87.1% passing against Toronto FC (March 14).
PASSING MACHINE AS A TEAM
As a team, Crew SC ranks second in passing accuracy, trailing only Orlando City SC. The Black & Gold also rank in the top five in passing accuracy in the opponent’s half (second) and passing accuracy in the final third (second).
PIPA MOVING UP CLUB RECORD BOOKS
Federico Higuain’s goal against Orlando was the 28th of his MLS and Crew SC career, tying him with Dante Washington for seventh on the club’s all-time list. His assist on Kei Kamara’s goal was his 24th of his MLS/Crew SC career, bringing him within one of Eddie Gaven’s 25 for seventh in club history in that category as well. Higuain’s three shots in the match also broke the 200-shot milestone for his career (202).
CLARK KEEPS CONSECUTIVE CLEAN SHEETS
Goalkeeper Steve Clark’s clean sheet against Orlando City SC was his second consecutive clean sheet, as well as his third of the season. The shutout was also his 11th all-time. The Crew SC ‘keeper has now recorded consecutive shutouts three times for the club, with the most recent instance before this one coming from September 20 - September 27, 2014.
GOING FOR GOAL
Following a 17-shot total against Orlando City SC on Saturday, Crew SC still ranks first in Major League Soccer in most attempted shots per match (15.7). The Black & Gold also rank third overall in shots (94), despite having played only six matches.
Following performances of five and four shots attempted against Orlando City SC, respectively, Crew SC’s Kei Kamara and Justin Meram still rank in the League’s top six in shots attempted per match. Kamara (4.7) trails only Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco in the statistic, and Meram (3.5) ranks fifth, tied with Houston’s Giles Barnes. Kamara ranks first in MLS in total amount of shots (28).