Two teams in serious need of points if they are to make a late charge toward a playoff spot meet when the Columbus Crew play host to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew started their two-game week with a 2-1 win against Toronto FC, now sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of a postseason berth. The Revolution come in riding a seven-game winless streak, now sitting in ninth place in the East.
REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Sean Hurd; AR2 (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
FUTURE MATCH: 9/5: New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew, 8 p.m. ET
•The teams are meeting for the second time, having played to a scoreless draw June 16 at Gillette Stadium.
•The Revolution’s last win in the series came Oct. 25, 2009 at Crew Stadium, a 1-0 win.
•The Crew have come away with points on their last six trips to Gillette Stadium. Since New England’s last home win in the series – a 1-0 win Oct. 14, 2006 in Foxborough – the Crew have won four of the last seven games at New England, with three draws.
•Coaches record: Jay Heaps v CLB: P1 W0 L0 D1 … Robert Warzycha vs. NE: P9 W4 L2 D3
LAST MEETING (MLS)
6/16: NE 0, CLB 0
•There were plenty of opportunities for both sides to break the deadlock in the opening half, but Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum produced three fine saves to repel the Revolution.
•Gruenebaum was credited with six saves for the match, while New England goalkeeper Matt Reis recorded three saves on the night.
•NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-2): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Chris Tierney - Fernando Cardenas (Kelyn Rowe 63), Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen - Saer Sene, Jose Moreno (Blake Brettschneider 46).
•COLUMBUS CREW (4-3-1-2): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Josh Williams, Carlos Mendes (Eric Gehrig 46), Nemanja Vukovic - Tony Tchani, Kevan George, Eddie Gaven - Milovan Mirosevic - Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor 71), Emilio Renteria (Ethan Finlay 90).
The Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten run to three games, defeating Toronto FC in a rescheduled match Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points from 23 games.
•The Crew jumped into the lead after just four minutes. Making his first MLS start, Federico Higuaín surged down the left flank and patiently waited for numbers to arrive before finding Eddie Gaven, whose blast from outside the area took a deflection and nestled in the back of the net.
•Higuaín and the Crew doubled the margin in the 58th minute. Capping a neat string of passes inside the area, the Crew Designated Player made it 2-0 with a calmly-taken finish from near the penalty spot.
•But Toronto pulled to within a goal in the 71st minute. Recently-acquired Eric Hassli picked up a header from Quincy Amarikwa and sliced the Crew defense with a weighted ball that Luis Silva ran onto before stroking the finish past Columbus 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum.
•Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made three changes to the team that played to a 2-2 result with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Milovan Mirosevic, Emilio Renteria and Federico Higuain all came into the midfield, in place of Cole Grossman, Justin Meram and Dilly Duka.
•COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda (Julius James 79), Carlos Mendes, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams - Chris Birchall, Milovan Mirosevic (Danny O'Rourke 75) - Emilio Renteria, Federico Higuain (Cole Grossman 76), Eddie Gaven - Jairo Arrieta.
•While the Crew still have yet to score more than two goals in a game this season, they have scored two goals in multiple games for the first time this season.
•“Being able to get two goals, obviously is nice. I think we all feel we could’ve been a little bit sharper, a little bit cleaner with the ball, myself included,” said midfielder Eddie Gaven. “But at the end of the day, this was a game the team had to win. We were able to find a way to do that even though we didn’t play our best. That’s definitely a good sign and something we can build off of.”
•“I think we struggled a bit with the offensive game, passing was not accurate and we gave the ball away too many times,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “ … But overall, sometimes this game is funny, you don’t play your best game and win and sometimes you play very well and lose.”
•Making his first start for the Crew, in his second appearance for the club, Federico Higuaín scored his first MLS goal and added his second assist.
•“Obviously he’s a good player. You can see his quality on the field and I’m sure he’s going to help his team,” said Warzycha. “I think that his passes are right and I think he is picking out the right guys as they make their runs. I think the guys around him are going to play better because he’s a smart player.”
•Higuaín has been involved in each of the last three goals the Crew have scored. Both of his assists have come on goals by Gaven.
•“I just found myself with the ball, with a little bit of space, so I just figured I’d hit it. Sometimes when you shoot, good things happen,” said Gaven. “Even though it might not have been the prettiest goal, they all count. It was nice to be able to get a goal early.”
•Jairo Arrieta also recorded his second assist since coming to MLS. He has three goals and two assists in MLS play, all over the last six games.
•“We needed a forward like [Higuaín] and also like Jairo [Arrieta],” said Milovan Mirosevic. “I think Jairo has been very, very good. He’s been holding the balls that we surely didn’t in the first games of the season. With those two guys in front, they have provided a lot of quality.”
•Emilio Rentería made his first start since July 14, playing in an attacking wide midfield position.
•After a game out of the starting lineup, Mirosevic returned to the team, playing a deeper-lying central midfield role.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution had their winless streak extended to seven games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Revolution are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 24 games.
•The Fire took the lead in the fifth minute. After Revolution defender A.J. Soares took Chris Rolfe down in the penalty area, the Fire striker took his own penalty, slotting it just past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Matt Reis.
•The Revolution equalized six minutes later, when Fernando Cárdenas was able to bundle the ball home after a scramble in the box after Saer Sene's cross from the left wing.
•But the home side re-took the lead for good in the 25th minute. Patrick Nyarko took a quick throw-in from Gonzalo Segares near the byeline and crossed to Sherjill MacDonald, who headed it down and past Reis for his first MLS goal.
•Revolution head coach Jay Heaps made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Montréal Impact at Gillette Stadium. Fernando Cardenas came into the midfield for Benny Feilhaber, and Blake Brettschneider started up top for Jerry Bengtson.
•NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-2): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Chris Tierney - Fernando Cardenas (Kelyn Rowe 69), Clyde Simms, Ryan Guy, Lee Nguyen (Benny Feilhaber 46) - Blake Brettschneider (Jerry Bengtson 57), Saer Sene.
•The Revolution lost for a fourth consecutive match, and saw their winless run extended to seven games. New England have won once since the international break, the 2-0 win vs. New York on July 8.
•“We’re in a rut right now, that’s the bottom line. We need to do whatever we can to get out of it,” said midfielder Ryan Guy. “Because of where we are in the season and where we are in each game, or where we have been, I think it’s one of those times where you say, you know what, we got to get on with it.”
•The Revolution lost a third consecutive game by a 1-0 scoreline, and seven of their 13 losses have come on 1-0 defeats.
•“I guess you'd call it savvy where we need to be better at the crucial times … I don't know if we created enough quality chances in the end,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis told Revs Wrap/CSNNE.com. “If you look at our heart and our fight over the 90 minutes, we tried our hardest,” Reis said. “But it's gut-wrenching, and it's hard to be on the other end of yet another one-goal loss.”
•Over their seven-game winless run, the Revolution have scored just three goals. “You’re really happy when you score and it comes back, and you get scored on like that, it’s real tough mentally,” said defender Stephen McCarthy. “I thought after their second goal we didn’t fold but we probably should have been a little stronger mentally.”
•Fernando Cardenas made his first start since July 14, and scored his second MLS goal, his first since May 2.
•Blake Brettschneider also made his first start since July 14, making his first appearance after not featuring at all over the last three matches.
•After making the start in his first game from playing for Honduras in the Olympics, Jerry Bengtson came off the bench in the Chicago match, coming on for the final half-hour.
•“I thought Jerry Bengston did a nice job coming in, and he held the ball up. I think at the critical time I think our passes were a little off,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “ … He had tired legs because he had been traveling quite a bit.”
•Lee Nguyen had played every minute of the previous 11 matches coming into the Chicago match, before he was forced off at halftime with an ankle injury.
•Sacrificed to the substitutes’ bench was Benny Feilhaber, who had been ever-present in the first XI since May 2. “As a player, you're always frustrated when you're not starting a game,” Feilhaber said. “You try to fight through it to prepare for the game. For me, I take soccer so seriously, regardless of whether I'm upset or happy, I'm going to go out and train as hard as I can. When I come in, I'm going to play as hard as I can. I can't really do anything else. That's just in my DNA, I guess.”
•Said Heaps: “I thought Benny did a good job of coming in [for the second half]. It was actually on short notice because Lee got injured, we took him out at half. Benny was ready. He didn't have much warm-up time, but he got right in there and controlled the pace on his side. I think we just lacked some vertical stuff and some penetrating runs.