Wed, Aug 29
8:00 PM ET

Preview: Surging Crew have eye on playoffs in Philly visit

PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
August 29, 2012 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #247)
8 p.m. ET (TCN-Phi; FS-OH)
A pair of clubs in a pitched battle to haul themselves back into a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference meet Wednesday evening at PPL Park when Philadelphia Union entertain the Columbus Crew. The clubs sit in seventh and eighth places in the East, the Crew just four points out of the final postseason spot, 11 points ahead of Union. Columbus hit the road off a scintillating 4-3 win against New England, their second in a row, while Philadelphia remains at home following a scoreless duel with Real Salt Lake.
REFEREE: Yader Reyes. AR1 (bench): C.J. Morgante; AR2 (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 19 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 6; pens: 3
PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: FW Jorge Perlaza (low back/gluteus strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee inflammation); PROBABLE: MF Michael Farfan (R foot contusion)
COLUMBUS CREW -- OUT: FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); MF Bernardo Anor (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain); MF Milovan Mirosevic (R ankle inflammation)
PHI: Gabriel Gomez, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan
PHI: Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Carlos Valdes, Jack McInerney
CLB: Bernardo Anor, Chris Birchall, Tony Tchani, Sebastian Miranda, Dilly Duka
  • ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Union 2 wins, 5 goals … Crew 3 wins, 7 goals … Ties 0
  • AT PHILADELPHIA (3 meetings): Union 2 wins, 3 goals … Crew 1 win, 2 goals … Ties 0
  • FUTURE MATCH: 9/29: Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. A Gabriel Gómez penalty kick was the difference as Union claimed a 1-0 victory, April 14 at PPL Park.
  • After Crew wins in the first three meetings all-time between the clubs, Union have won the last two. Union won 1-0 last Sept. 17 at PPL Park, putting an end to a Crew three-game winning streak in the series that began with the first-ever meeting between the clubs.
  • Coaches' records: John Hackworth vs. CLB: first game … Robert Warzycha vs. PHI: P5 W3 L2 D0
4/14: PHI 1, CLB 0 (Gomez 38)
  • The game's only goal came in the 38th minute. A shot from Philadelphia's Freddy Adu hit the hand of the Crew’s Eric Gehrig, and referee Michael Kennedy pointed to the spot. Gabriel Gómez then finished off the penalty kick.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was called upon to make just one save on the afternoon behind a makeshift Union defense.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan - Keon Daniel, Gabriel Gomez (Amobi Okugo 71), Freddy Adu (Josue Martinez 62) - Lionard Pajoy (Antoine Hoppenot 93+).
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Eric Gehrig, Shaun Francis (Nemanja Vukovic 73) - Kirk Urso - Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Ethan Finlay (Bernardo Anor 65) - Aaron Schoenfeld (Emilio Renteria 68), Olman Vargas.
Philadelphia Union gained a point for a second consecutive match, reaching a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake on Friday evening at PPL Park. Union are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 23 games.
  • The closest either team came to scoring came in the second half when Gabriel Gomez nearly scored a gol olimpico on a corner kick, but ball and Ned Grabavoy collided with the near post all at the same time to keep the ball out.
  • Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was credited with three saves for the match, while RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was called upon to make two stops.
  • Union interim manager John Hackworth made two changes to the team that hung on for a 1-1 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Raymon Gaddis came into the back four for the suspended Sheanon Williams, and Gabriel Gomez started in place of Freddy Adu.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud - Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 71), Michael Farfan, Gabriel Gomez (Freddy Adu 82) - Jack McInerney.
  • While Union gained a result for a second consecutive match, they saw their winless streak extended to four games, since a 2-1 win against New England on July 29.
  • “I thought they were really good defensively, taking away passing lanes, not letting us kind of trick them,” said Union team manager John Hackworth. “We were going after it. When you play a team with the caliber of Real Salt Lake, you have to finish the few chances you create. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”
  • Gabriel Gómez started for the first time in four matches, after missing the last two completely as a result of international duty, filling a wide forward position. Danny Cruz started on the opposite flank, his second consecutive start since his arrival from D.C. United.
  • “It was still a 4-3-3. It was just Gómez on the left where Freddy [Adu]usually is. We wanted Gómez to come in and add a little bit more into our midfield. So we dropped him back and he showed up high and back, and when he did run a player forward,” said Hackworth. “We were trying to operate on the same system just a change in personnel, change in tactics. … That in my opinion worked, but you know possession doesn’t get you any points. It doesn’t get the ball in the back of the net.”
  • Said midfielder Brian Carroll: “As far as tactics were concerned, there wasn’t too much of a difference. At times I just found myself a little bit higher stepping to put some pressure on. In general we have the option to rotate a little bit and go with the flow. But we know our starting positions and our starting positions weren’t really that much different tonight.”
  • After he was taken off in the 69th minute in the D.C. United match, Freddy Adu was dropped to the substitutes’ bench for the RSL game, coming on for the final eight minutes.
  • “My role changed today where [Hackworth] wanted to just bring me into the game and make a difference,” Adu said. “When I went in, I tried to do that. I created a couple of chances. But whatever. It is what it is.”
  • For the first time since July 8, a span of seven matches, Union kept a clean sheet. It was just the third shutout for the club since reeling off three in a row from March 31-April 21.
  • "I went 45-50 minutes without touching the ball there for a while. It was good for the team, really,” said goalkeeper Zac MacMath. “The defense played really well. They didn’t have very many chances. So hopefully we can build on the shutout and start scoring some goals.”
The Columbus Crew won for a second consecutive match in dramatic fashion, overcoming an early deficit and scoring a late winner for a 4-3 win against the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points from 24 games.
  • The Revolution jumped into the lead after just 17 minutes, when a deflected strike from Ryan Guy from outside the area found the bottom corner. Six minutes later it was 2-0 as Saer Sene rounded Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum at the corner of the area and rolled the ball off the post and into the goal.
  • But the Crew were level with two goals inside six minutes. In the 26th minute, Federico Higuain let fly with a free kick from 28 yards, putting it over the wall into the upper right corner past a diving Matt Reis. Then the Crew tied the match on a well-struck ball by Jairo Arrieta after a slick pass from Milovan Mirosevic sprung him behind the Revs’ backline.
  • Two minutes before halftime, the Crew nosed in front on another stellar free kick from Higuain. The second a bit further out on the left, but just as powerful a drive, and Reis was once again unable to stop the ball as it hugged the near post.
  • The Revolution pulled back level nine minutes from the end when substitute Julius James pulled down Diego Fagundez in the box as the pair battled for the ball, and Lee Nguyen calmly converted from the spot.
  • Yet five minutes later the Crew found the game-winner when Arrieta ran onto a clipped ball from Tony Tchani and slotted it past Reis.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that defeated Toronto FC 2-1 at Crew Stadium. Danny O'Rourke and Dilly Duka came into the midfield, in place of Chris Birchall and Emilio Renteria
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): Andy Gruenebaum (Matt Lampson 46) - Sebastian Miranda, Carlos Mendes (Julius James 40), Chad Marshall, Josh Williams - Eddie Gaven, Milovan Mirosevic, Danny O'Rourke, Dilly Duka - Federico Higuain (Tony Tchani 72), Jairo Arrieta.
  • The Crew have yet to win three consecutive games this season, their back-to-back wins the fourth time they’ve done it this season.
  • “Telling you the truth, I thought that we have a very good team and we needed a spark,” Warzycha said. “We needed a guy who would slip the ball to somebody or need the guy to do exactly what [Higuain] did: have a free kick from over here or have a shot from distance, link the midfielders with the forwards. Actually, I thought we were going to get that kind of guy and he was going to be very good, but he has a lot of success. But I have to say, the guys around him have been good too.”
  • Federico Higuaín scored two stunning goals from free kicks in the Crew’s 4-3 win against New England last weekend, the first player to score twice directly from free kicks in the same game since Dwayne De Rosario did it for Toronto FC on Sept. 18, 2010 vs. Houston.
  • “Those ridiculous free kicks, I told the guys in the locker room, 'I practice [free kicks] almost every day. You can see me doing free kicks with Justin Meram and Emilio [Renteria],’” Warzycha said. “’Federico, he's just sitting on the side not doing free kicks with us. Look at today, he went over there and scores two.' I'm like, 'Where the heck did that guy come from?' It's amazing to have talent like this.”
  • Since coming to Major League Soccer, Higuaín now has three goals and two assists in three appearances.
  • Jairo Arrieta also celebrated his 29th birthday with his second two-goal game since coming to MLS, after netting twice in the 2-1 win vs. Sporting KC on July 28. Arrieta now has five goals and two assists in eight league appearances.
  • “It was a really good day to celebrate a birthday,” said Arrieta. “It started, we were down 2-0 and we ended up winning the game. It was really good. We need it. We needed the three points. It was really important to score the goals, but it was more important for the team to get the three points.”
  • Goalkeeper Matt Lampson made his MLS debut, coming on at halftime after Andy Gruenebaum suffered a lower back contusion. Lampson backstopped the Crew’s defeat by the Dayton Dutch Lions in the U.S. Open Cup in May.
  • "I try to take my triumphs in stride. I don't want anything to go to my head or anything. I think I just did my job today and I think I did pretty well,” Lampson said. “All things considered [the Crew defense] kept me safe in the back. I'm happy about that. They picked me up when I got scored on. We got the win, that's most important.”
  • Said Warzycha: “You want to remember your first game. You don't want to make any mistakes. He looks like a pro, like he has a lot of experience because he went for the ball and made a couple saves. Directing the guys in front of him, I thought he was very good.”
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