Chivas' Home Depot hex looms over Crew
OBETZ, Ohio – The only time the Crew defeated Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center, defender Robin Fraser and midfielder Simon Elliott were starters for the Black and Gold.
A 3-0 victory over the then-expansion team on Sept. 3, 2005, remains the only time Columbus have not allowed at least two goals on their visits to Carson, Calif., to play the Goats. In losing five straight, the Crew have been outscored 11-3.
“I remember a few of the most recent games,” said Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer, citing a 3-1 defeat last year. “They were unbelievable. They played really, really good. Their seasons didn’t reflect it but against us they were on top of their game.”
The Crew (1-1-1) will try to end the streak Saturday against familiar faces: Fraser is now in his first year as head coach of Chivas (0-2-1) and Elliott is one of his players.
Chad Marshall is the lone Crew player left from that 2005 squad and credits his development into a two-time MLS Defender of the Year (2008 and ’09) to Fraser, who befriended the rookie Marshall the year before when Fraser was named the league’s top defender.
“In my eyes he’s the best defender to every play in this league,” Marshall said. “You couldn’t help but learn from him. His communication was really good, he had guys organized. Obviously his speed didn’t hurt him; he was one of the fastest guys on the field. He commanded respect from people. You didn’t want to let him down.”
Marshall and his teammates are perplexed by the Crew’s failures at the Home Depot Center vs. Chivas, especially considering since '05 they have a 2-1-3 record there against the LA Galaxy as well as a win over New York in the 2008 MLS Cup on the same field.
“It shows even though they may not have had the best record the last few years, any team that is on in this league is capable of beating anyone,” Marshall said.
The losses to Chivas are particularly painful for Californian natives such as Marshall and midfielder Robbie Rogers.
“I’ve been thinking about it the past week,” Rogers said. “My family always comes out to the game. It just [stinks] to lose against them. It’s always 2-0 or something like that. I’m excited to change that.”
The Crew have consecutive shutouts against New York and FC Dallas and feel they have the new back line in order — even though center back Julius James had some hamstring problems this week. He made the trip but if he doesn’t start, Andy Iro will move alongside Marshall.
Forward Andres Mendoza (left adductor strain) is out, so coach Robert Warzycha must decide if he will stick with the single striker formation – likely Emilio Renteria or Jeff Cunningham – or go back to the 4-4-2 used in the first game loss at D.C. United.