Columbus Crew (6-1-2, 1st place in Eastern Conference) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (5-3-1, tied for 3rd place in Western Conference) at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
All-time record: The Crew lead 18-12-1
10 p.m. ET, CSN California, Ohio News Network, MLS Direct Kick, 1220 AM KDOW, 1370 AM KZSF, 610 AM WTVN, 103.1 FM WVKO
What’s at stake?
Avoidance of a losing streak on a short week. Columbus was finally dealt an “L” when they faced league-leading Los Angeles on Saturday and were bested 2-0, despite dominating the run of play. San Jose, meanwhile, gave up a soft goal to Toronto early Saturday to break a scoreless streak of nearly 400 minutes and never really got back in the match.
The Crew blew apart what had been a scoreless match at San Francisco's Candlestick Park with three goals in the final 21 minutes. The since-departed Alejandro Moreno opened up Columbus’ account by nodding home an open header in the 69th minute. Robbie Rogers, who assisted on Moreno’s goal, got one of his own four minutes later when he simply overpowered two San Jose defenders before rifling home a blast from 10 yards. Adam Moffat tallied the final goal with a deflected header in the 87th.
... the Crew kept the Earthquakes from winning three consecutive MLS Cup titles? Nothing was guaranteed to San Jose in the 2002 playoffs, but given that they won the crown in ’01 and ’03, it’s not a total stretch to say Columbus’ pair of victories against the Quakes – by 2-1 scores in both California and Ohio – kept them from becoming an MLS dynasty.
Heroes and villains
Jason Hernandez vs. Guillermo Barros Schelotto: Hernandez had a rough outing on Saturday, starting with a botched header for indecisive goalkeeper Joe Cannon, which Toronto forward Chad Barrett turned into a soft goal and a 1-0 lead. He also appeared to mistime his offside trap in the second half, allowing Dwayne De Rosario to scored and make it 2-0. Schelotto, meanwhile, was a driving force behind Columbus’ ball control on Saturday. The Crew would love to see that same kind of imagination and flair on display Wednesday.
Arturo Alvarez vs. Robbie Rogers: Two midfielders with something to prove. Alvarez, knocked out of the starting lineup for more than a month because of a strained hamstring, made his return in a reserve role Saturday and all but whiffed on a right-footed shot (by far his weaker foot) that might have changed the entire tenor of the contest. Rogers, meanwhile, is only in his second game back after being one of the last cuts from the US World Cup side.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm”
Ryan Johnson scored the first goal of his MLS career against Columbus, on May 10, 2008. Since then, he’s gone on to tally twice more against the Crew, and that three-goal haul is the most he’s had against any one club.
He said it
“I think we both know we can do a little better on that play.” – Quakes defender Jason Hernandez, on the miscommunication between him and keeper Joe Cannon, which opened the door for Chad Barrett to score Toronto FC’s first goal on Saturday.