Excitement building for clash with MLS champs

Tickets are in high demand, seating has been expanded, and excitement is growing in the Arch City as Columbus Crew SC gets set to host reigning MLS Cup Champs LA Galaxy this Saturday.

After suffering their second home loss this season against Montreal Impact, Crew SC wants to turn the page when the Galaxy come to town. Forward Kei Kamara and company view the only regular-season meeting between the two clubs as an opportunity to rebound, albeit against a quality opponent.

“It’s always a learning curve in the first half of the season,” Kamara said. “We have to take responsibility for things, like the last game at home. But now, the good thing is we’re not going on the road. Our next game is at home to make corrections for the mistakes we’ve made last week.”

With all eyes on Saturday’s much-anticipated matchup, Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter expects an entertaining clash.

“I think against the Galaxy, it’s going to be an opponent that really wants to play soccer and I think it’s going to be a good game, a fun game,” Berhalter said. “I think it’s going to be great for the spectators and it’s going to be two teams that are attacking.”

When the Black & Gold last hosted LA on Aug. 16, 2014, they sent the Galaxy home with a 4-1 thrashing that kicked off a five-game winning streak at MAPFRE Stadium for Crew SC. Come Saturday night, Columbus looks to improve its 2015 home record of 4-2-1 in front of the largest crowd at MAPFRE Stadium yet this season.

“We’re excited to play in front of a full house,” Berhalter said. “When we play in front of a lot of fans, the atmosphere is incredible. So we really enjoy that.”

For Crew SC midfielder and former Galaxy player Hector Jimenez, the match will be an opportunity to play against some familiar faces.

“Being there and having friends there, I’ve watched a lot of [LA]’s games,” Jimenez said. “They’re coming off a tough loss and I know [LA Galaxy Head Coach] Bruce [Arenas] isn’t happy.”

The Black & Gold hope LA’s unhappiness will persist a little bit longer as they face a Galaxy team still looking for its first road win of the season.

“It won’t be an easy game for us, but the way we played last year against them [at MAPFRE Stadium] was a great game and I think a turning point in our season,” Jimenez said. “So hopefully we can get a result like we did last year and go from there.”

LA comes to town on the heels of a 1-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, which snapped the Galaxy’s 29-game unbeaten streak at home. The Black & Gold meanwhile search for their first win in six matches.

“We can’t get frustrated when things aren’t going right for us and we just have to stick to our system,” Jimenez said. “And eventually we’ll get results.”

Reigning MLS champs or not, Berhalter treats the match versus the Galaxy like any other.

“Every game is important and every game means the same,” Berhalter said. “As far as I’m concerned, we should be preparing to win and perform well in every single game, because if you’re waiting to turn it on in moments, it’s not going to come.”

Crew SC and LA Galaxy kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are going fast. Get yours here! Can't make it to MAPFRE Stadium? Catch the action on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, CD102.5 FM or La Mega 103.1 FM.


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