Columbus lean on East foes to help rebound
COLUMBUS – Returning to the comfort zone that is the Eastern Conference might be the fix for the Crew on Saturday as they try to break a two-game losing streak in MLS play.
Columbus face the New England Revolution on Saturday with an eye on improving an impressive 9-1 conference record, as well as a spotless 4-0 road mark against their Eastern rivals.
Those numbers have allowed the Crew (13-7-5, 44 points) to maintain a three-point edge over runners-up New York in the East with home-field advantage in the playoffs at stake.
“We need three points,” Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer said. “We want to keep the lead against New York and get the first seed in the East.”
While feasting on the East, the Crew have gone hungry against the West, with a 4-6-5 record overall and a 0-4-4 on the road. They’ve also been outscored 7-1 in the past two games against Los Angeles and Seattle.
The Western Conference owns three of the top four overall spots in the standings, with Los Angeles (50 points) ahead of Real Salt Lake (47) for the Supporters’ Shield, which was won by the Crew each of the past two years.
Columbus are third, one point clear of FC Dallas.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint, because the past couple years the East was the one that normally had the stronger record,” Crew defender Andy Iro said. “Obviously, LA’s improved. Seattle’s improved from last season. Salt Lake was a .500 team last year, but after their MLS Cup victory, they’re back strong again.”
Only New York have made the kind of leap in the East that has been common in the other conference.
After Saturday, the Crew play their final Western foe of the regular season when San Jose come to Columbus on Oct. 2.