DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
9:30 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer / Deportes)
August 5, 2011 (WEEK 21; MLS Game 204)
A pair of teams coming off impressive victories meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park when the Colorado Rapids play host to the Columbus Crew on FOX Soccer Night in America. The Rapids return home after becoming the first team to win at Philadelphia Union in a 2-1 win last Friday night. The Columbus Crew became just the third team in an MLS league game to come away with a victory at Rio Tinto Stadium when they defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 last weekend.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 185 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 42; pens: 50
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Conor Casey (L achilles tear); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain); FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear) … COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: DF Shaun Francis (L adductor strain); MF Dilly Duka (R ankle sprain); MF Tony Tchani (R knee inflammation); GK Alex Riggs (L oblique strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Rich Balchan (L adductor strain); FW Emilio Renteria (L quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Josh Williams (R hip labral tear); FW Jeff Cunningham (R knee inflammation); PROBABLE: FW Andres Mendoza (L hamstring strain); GK William Hesmer (L quad strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Conor Casey… CLB: Julius James
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Caleb Folan, Ross LaBauex, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Sanna Nyassi, Wells Thompson, Anthony Wallace … CLB: Kevin Burns, Tommy Heinemann, Tony Tchani
ALL-TIME (34 meetings): Rapids 15 wins (2 shootout), 46 goals … Crew 11 wins (0 shootout), 44 goals … Ties 8
AT COLORADO (16 meetings): Rapids 9 wins (1 shootout), 18 goals … Crew 3 wins (1 shootout), 13 goals … Ties 4
- Andres Mendoza scored goals on either side of halftime as the Crew eased to a 4-1 win against a 10-man Rapids squad on June 26 at Crew Stadium in their first meeting this season.
- The Crew had defeated the Rapids in two consecutive games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and come away with points on three consecutive trips to Colorado, until the Rapids’ 1-0 home win last June 5.
- Colorado hasn’t won in Columbus since 2004, a 2-1 win at Crew Stadium. The Crew have won five of the home league meetings since, with two draws.
- A year ago, the clubs met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Rapids won at home 1-0, then the Crew won the return match 2-1, the Rapids advancing after winning the penalty shootout 5-4.
- Coaches record: Robert Warzycha vs. COL: P5 W3 L1 D1 … Gary Smith vs. CLB: P5 W1 L3 D1
LAST MEETING (MLS)
6/26: CLB 4, COL 1 (Gaven 12, Mendoza 18, 47; Heinemann 56 – Casey 5)
- The Rapids took the lead after just five minutes, when Conor Casey executed a perfect snap header from Jamie Smith’s corner kick.
- But the Crew were in the lead not long after. Eddie Gaven took the ball from Scott Palguta at midfield and went solo to the penalty area before cutting right and sliding a shot inside the far netting in the 12th minute. Then Andres Mendoza took advantage of an errant back pass in the 18th minute and rocketed an 18-yarder off the crossbar and into the net.
- The match turned for good in the 29th minute when Casey was sent off by referee Andrew Chapin after lunging for a 50-50 ball with William Hesmer as the Crew goalkeeper went to the ground.
- The Crew broke the game open after the break. Defender Chad Marshall’s clearance from in front of goal bounced over Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura near midfield, and Mendoza raced in alone, ripping a snap shot from 18 yards (47).
- Then nine minutes later, a Gaven cross from the right side deflected off Tyrone Marshall and fell kindly to Tommy Heinemann. His one-time shot bounced once, but goalkeeper Matt Pickens could only get a piece of the shot before it trickled in over the line.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Josh Gardner - Rich Balchan - Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo (Eric Gehrig 85), Bernardo Anor - Tommy Heinemann (Jeff Cunningham 68), Andres Mendoza (Justin Meram 67).
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta - Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 68), Pablo Mastroeni (Ross LaBauex 75), Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith - Conor Casey (sent off 29), Quincy Amarikwa (Omar Cummings 46).
The Colorado Rapids extended their unbeaten streak to a modest three games, coming away from PPL Park with a 2-1 victory against Philadelphia Union on Friday evening. The Rapids have 34 points from 24 games, sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference.
- The Rapids took the lead on 35 minutes. A throw-in from winger Brian Mullan found Pablo Mastroeni, and he made a neat cutback move to shed a defender before smashing a strike into the upper left corner.
- Then, right before the halftime whistle, Colorado doubled its lead. Omar Cummings dribbled up the center of the field on a counterattack and made a sharp through pass to fellow speedster Sanna Nyassi, who zipped past the Union defense and lashed home a low shot inside the area.
- Union’s comeback hopes took a turn for the worse in the 64th minute when Sheanon Williams received two yellow cards in short order after disputing a call.
- But in stoppage time, the hosts pulled a goal back when Roger Torres took a long ball at the edge of the area and skipped his way through three defenders before hooking a shot high into the right corner of the goal.
- Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Tyrone Marshall came into the back four for Scott Palguta and Omar Cummings started up top in place of Caleb Folan.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall (Scott Palguta 70), Drew Moor - Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 79), Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson - Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings (Caleb Folan 62).
- Sanna Nyassi has scored four goals in the last three games for the Rapids, all since being put into the starting lineup as a striker.
- “Sanna looks so lively at the minute,” Rapids coach Gary Smith said. “It is a different role for Omar and there are flashes of very good play, but he is still getting used to that lone role. … The pair of them are getting involved in moments that change the course of events. Those moments are what everybody is striving for, those flashes of brilliance. I’d rather have those game-winning goals than stocking fillers when you are already 3-0 up.”
- In the two games where Nyassi and Omar Cummings have formed Colorado’s strike partnership, they’ve created four of the Rapids’ six goals. Cummings has assisted on all four of Nyassi’s goals.
- “It’s crazy. We lost our most prolific striker who time and time again has delivered for this club,” Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni said. “Conor’s injury provides someone else with an opportunity and it was [head coach Gary Smith’s] ability to assess the situation and give Sanna the chance and he has stolen it and run with it.”
- After going nearly three months with just two victories – after winning the first three games of the season – the Rapids have won three times in the last five games and have lost just once in that span.
- “I think the season’s more of a marathon than a sprint and you know you’re going to encounter lulls and you’re going to encounter very high moments,” Mastroeni said. “I think this is just a catalyst to essentially point us in the right direction.”
- For a second match in a row, the Rapids saw an opposition player sent off.
- “We did that last week against New England. We went up 2-1 when they were a man down and we didn’t hold on for the win, but this time we did,” said goalkeeper Matt Pickens. “Now we got the three (points) instead of the one point last week, so I guess you can say we kind of learned from that game against New England.”
The Columbus Crew won for the second time in as many games, defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Crew have 34 points from 22 games on the season, alone in first place in the Eastern Conference.
- The Crew took the lead after just five minutes. Robbie Rogers skipped through a pair of RSL defenders on the left and sent a centering pass to a wide-open Eddie Gaven, who easily slotted the ball past diving goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
- Then five minutes, Columbus doubled its lead. Rogers again played provider, lifting a cross from the left flank to forward Tommy Heinemann, who headed home inside the right-hand post.
- Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that defeated the Portland Timbers 1-0 at Crew Stadium. Justin Meram started up top in place of Jeff Cunningham.
- COLUMBUS CREW (4-3-1-2): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Eddie Gaven, Dejan Rusmir (Eric Gehrig 61), Robbie Rogers - Emmanuel Ekpo - Tommy Heinemann, Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor 76).
- Robbie Rogers recorded his first two-assist game of the season, collecting his first assist since April 1 in the 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake.
- "I think he caught Robbie Russell by surprise a bit in the first 10 minutes. We always talk about the final pass and today the final pass was there," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.
- Rogers was involved in more than one goal in a game for the first time since Aug. 8. 2009, when he had a goal and an assist in the second half against San Jose.
- “It was a bit surprising to be honest,” Rogers said. “We wanted to get after them and put them on their heels. They’re a very good defensive team and we talked about really testing them. They came out a little slow and if we went after them hard we could punish them. They were giving me time to turn and go after them.”
- In his second game in goal replacing the injured William Hesmer, Andy Gruenebaum recorded a second consecutive shutout.
- Rookie Justin Meram made just his second MLS start, his first as a striker, when he partnered Tommy Heinemann in attack. Heinemann was making his second consecutive start after going to the bench for three games.
- “We played very good, especially early in the game when we switched the point of attack and opened up the game with our speed and good thinking,” Warzycha said. “The key was making the field bigger when he had the ball, going from one side to the other side and [Justin] Meram and Tommy fighting for the balls. They did a good job.”
- The Crew did not score a goal in the opening 45 minutes until May 18 this season, and still have scored a league-low six goals in the first half (tied with Toronto FC), but hit for two goals before the break for the second time this season.
- "There's still a lot of soccer to be played, obviously, but we definitely feel good about the win. The way this team is going right now, being able to come here and get a win and getting the win last week at home, the team is playing well, so we just got to keep on going," Eddie Gaven said.