Sat, Sep 29
7:30 PM ET

Preview: Union aim to play spoilers as Crew fight for playoffs

September 29, 2012 (WEEK 30, MLS Game #286)
7:30 p.m. ET (FS-OH; TCN-Phi)
Two clubs desperate to claw back into the MLS Cup Playoffs race meet on Saturday evening when the Columbus Crew play host to Philadelphia Union at Crew Stadium. The Crew now sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and one spot out of the playoff places, following their 2-1 loss at Chicago last weekend. Union remained alive in their bid to return to the MLS postseason, snapping an eight-game winless run last weekend in a 3-1 win against Houston.
REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. AR1 (bench): Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 5 games; FC/gm: 23.8; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 0; pens: 2
COLUMBUS CREW – OUT: FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); MF Bernardo Anor (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: GK Andy Gruenebaum (lower back stiffness)
PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: MF Danny Cruz (L big toe sesamoid stress fracture/R calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Keon Daniel (R knee contusion); MF Freddy Adu (L quad strain); DF Bakary Soumare (R knee inflammation); DF Gabriel Farfan (R ankle contusion)
CLB: Chris Birchall, Danny O’Rourke
PHI: Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez
CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Sebastian Miranda, Dilly Duka, Justin Meram, Emilio Renteria
PHI: Gabriel Farfan, Michael Lahoud, Jack McInerney, Carlos Valdes, Michael Farfan, Sheanon Williams
ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Crew 4 wins, 9 goals … Union 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
AT COLUMBUS (2 meetings): Crew 2 wins, 5 goals … Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 0
2012 (MLS)
4/14: PHI 1, CLB 0 (Gomez 38)
8/29: PHI 1, CLB 2 (Valdes 29 – Williams 41; Gaven 95+)
  • The teams are meeting for a third time this season. Gabriel Gómez scored the game’s only goal for a Union win April 14 at PPL Park, then Eddie Gaven’s goal deep into stoppage time sealed a 2-1 victory for the Crew on Aug. 29 in Chester.
  • After Crew wins in the first three meetings all-time between the clubs, Union had won two in a row before the Crew win in the last encounter.
  • Coaches' records: John Hackworth vs. CLB: P1 W0 L1 D0… Robert Warzycha vs. PHI: P6 W4 L2 D0
  • Union took the lead in the 29th minute. After Michael Farfan was taken down to draw a free kick from about 30 yards out, Carlos Valdés stepped up and hit a low shot that deflected off the wall and into the right corner of the net.
  • Columbus struck back in the 41st minute with a goal of their own from a defender, as Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath had no chance on a perfect header from Josh Williams from a free kick struck by Federico Higuaín.
  • The Crew went a man down in the 68th minute when Williams was shown a straight red card by referee Yder Reyes after getting into an off-the-ball scuffle with Union substitute Antoine Hoppenot.
  • With Union pushing forward deep into stoppage time, the Crew hit for a stunning winner. Higuaín raced forward on the counter, sliding the ball to Justin Meram on the left. He carried into the area and laid a ball across the face of goal where Eddie Gaven had the simplest of tap-ins. 
PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes (Raymon Gaddis 55), Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud - Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 61), Michael Farfan, Gabriel Gomez - Jack McInerney (Freddy Adu 77).
COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Matt Lampson - Sebastian Miranda, Danny O'Rourke, Chad Marshall, Josh Williams (sent off 68) - Milovan Mirosevic, Chris Birchall (Cole Grossman 84) - Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuain, Dilly Duka (Justin Meram 66) - Jairo Arrieta (Julius James 72).
The Columbus Crew suffered their third loss in the last four matches, the Chicago Fire coming back for a 2-1 win Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Crew fell to sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 45 points from 30 games.
  • The Crew took the lead in the 15th minute. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s pass went directly to the feet of Columbus forward Jairo Arrieta, who dribbled past a diving Johnson and beat sliding defender Arne Friedrich for his sixth goal of the year.
  • But the Fire were level just eight minutes later. Forward Sherjill MacDonald found Chris Rolfe with a throughpass, and he buried a shot past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum from just inside the area.
  • Three minutes later, Rolfe settled a pass from Patrick Nyarko just outside the penalty area and calmly placed a curling shot out of Gruenebaum’s reach.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that got a late goal for a 1-0 win against Chivas USA at Crew Stadium. Emilio Renteria came into the team in place of Dilly Duka.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Sebastian Miranda (Olman Vargas 81), Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Williams - Milovan Mirosevic, Danny O'Rourke - Emilio Renteria (Tony Tchani 69), Federico Higuain, Eddie Gaven (Justin Meram 69) - Jairo Arrieta.
  • It was a third consecutive loss for the Crew on their travels. The visit by Philadelphia starts a run of three of the club’s final four matches at Crew Stadium.
  • “It’s still depending on us. I think if we play like today, we will be closer to playoffs, even if we didn’t win today,” said midfielder Milosan Mirosevic. “For sure it isn’t a good result. This isn’t a good sensation but I think today we proved we can play against a really good team.”
  • In each of the Crew’s last four victories, they’ve scored the winning goal in the 86th minute or later. But they’ve suffered each of the last two losses after taking an early lead.
  • “It’s the second time that’s happened. We need to do a better job on keeping the lead on the game. They tied the game and got the lead in too quickly, so it’s a mental issue,” said forward Jairo Arrieta. “We have to work on that. We have to learn from our mistakes and tried to avoid that in the future. Not waste those leads so we can make it to the next round.”
  • Said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum: “Especially when you’re trying to make the playoffs, you’ve got to make those early goals stand. We’re giving up the lead too quickly on the road right after we get one.” Added Warzycha: “We have to put ourselves in a situation where we don’t have to score a goal at the end to get a result. Sometimes the game won’t go your way.”
  • The Crew have also allowed seven goals in their three losses over the last four matches, and now have a goal differential for the season of minus-1.
  • “The big thing is we’re allowing the other team to score two or three goals,” Warzycha said. “If we continue to do that, we’re not going to be in the playoffs.”
  • With Dilly Duka not with the team while tending to personal issues in his native New Jersey, Emilio Renteria was given the start in one of the wide positions.
  • “I thought Emilio tried really hard. I don’t think we got him the ball as often as he likes and we need, but I think he’s effective when he has the ball at his feet and when he runs at people,” said Warzycha. “He was good for 60 minutes. We were trying to change the game and get some fresh legs on the field.”
  • Jairo Arrieta scored his first goal since Aug. 25, a span of five games without hitting the back of the net. But he does have a goal or an assist in each of the last three matches.
  • Olman Vargas came on for his first appearance in 13 matches, since a 10-minute stint against Sporting Kansas City on July 14. His last start came May 19 vs. San Jose.
  • “We didn’t utilize him like we’re supposed to,” Warzycha said. “The idea was to get him on the field and the guys on the wings get some crosses in. They didn’t.”
  • After playing every minute of every one of the first 28 league matches, Eddie Gaven came off for a substitute for a second consecutive match, replaced by Justin Meram in the 69th minute.
  • “I thought we were going to get 90 from Eddie, but he got kicked again tonight, so he was a little slower in the second half,” Warzycha said. “Having Justin [Meram] on the bench was nice and we wanted to use his speed and get something done in the second half.”
Philadelphia Union put an end to their winless streak after eight games, rolling to a 3-1 win against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park. Union are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 28 games.
  • Union took the lead in the 28th minute. Right back Ray Gaddis made a marauding run up the field and put in a cross that eventually found its way to Freddy Adu beyond the far post. Adu then cut the ball in front of goal and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to the near post.
  • The Dynamo pulled level just a minute before halftime when Boniek García hit a beautiful strike off the post and in, following a great feed from Will Bruin, who sucked both defenders to him in the middle of the box.
  • Adu netted his second goal of game when he banged home a 50th-minute penalty kick after André Hainault dragged down Philly’s Sheanon Williams in the box. Adu then left the game while clutching his left leg, replaced by Keon Daniel.
  • Josué Martinez capped the victory in the 71th minute when he got his foot on a blast from center back Amobi Okugo and took another touch to beat Hall right in front of the net.
  • Union interim manager John Hackworth made five changes to the team that went down to a 1-0 loss to D.C. United at PPL Park. Raymon Gaddis came into the back four for Gabriel Farfan, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan and Freddy Adu came into the midfield for Gabriel Gomez, Keon Daniel and Antoine Hoppenot, and Josue Martinez started up top in place of Jack McInerney.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams - Danny Cruz (Chris Albright 81), Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan - Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel 57 / Antoine Hoppenot 66), Josue Martinez.
  • Union won for the first time since July 29, a 2-1 home win vs. New England, snapping their club-record winless run.
  • “I knew the goals were going to come for us and more than that I think we put together a pretty complete performance today,”said Union manager John Hackworth. “I thought we were really good against an excellent team on both sides of the ball and obviously getting three points with our backs against the wall in a big way, was huge.”
  • Freddy Adu scored the first two-goal game of his MLS career, and netted his first goals since July 29.
  • “I got a chance to play forward and was working pretty well. Guys like Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Carlos Valdes, they did a great job at finding us the ball, once I had it I was able to run with it,” said Adu. “That was key. I enjoyed playing the [forward] position, and the main thing is that it worked and we keep winning.”
  • But Adu was forced from the field shortly after converting the penalty kick for his second goal, replaced by Keon Daniel – who lasted just nine minutes himself before he had to be taken off.
  • “It is very frustrating. But this is due to different circumstances,” Adu said. “Health is your No. 1 priority. You want to live to play other games and you want to be able to play them at 100 percent. I could have made it worse, I really could have. … I had to make a very tough decision in coming out.”
  • Said Hackworth: “Freddy is coming along slower than we would have hoped. Hopefully Freddy can be available by Saturday but we’re not going to push it. ... He’s a little behind where we thought he’d be.”
  • Josué Martinez made his first start since July 21 and scored his first MLS goal. It was his fifth start of the season, but his first 90-minute performance.
  • “Really what it was is that Josué, along with a lot of our young attacking players, really need opportunities,” Hackworth said. “[Josué] did a really good job of doing what he asked him to do in training and in our preparation. And that made a big difference for us.”
  • Raymon Gaddis started his first match since Aug. 24, coming in at right back as Sheanon Williams switched flanks in place of Gabriel Farfan.
  • “Ray was excellent,” Hackworth said. “The way he got forward in the first half, the energy that he brought, his defensive responsibility – I can’t say enough about the kid and what he brings every single day. Right now he’s playing behind Sheanon Williams and that’s tough. But he shows his qualities every time he’s on the field.”
  • Said Williams: “He’s a hard-working guy and he fits into our backline pretty seamlessly. Whether I have to shift over to the left or I’m down, he always fills in and does what the team needs him to do. He’s a good team guy.”
  • Veteran defender Chris Albright came on for the final nine minutes, making just his third league appearance after starting the second and third games of the season.
  • “I don’t think it was a reward, I don’t think he would have put me in if he didn’t think I could do what was needed in that spot which was help kill the game off. … Obviously when the opportunity comes I am ready to set in and do whatever they want me to do,” said Albright. Said Hackworth: “He showed it in the last 10 minutes to provide leadership. Every day he helps out with the young guys in our locker room because of his experiences in the World Cups and the Olympics he has been in this league a long time and he is very valuable to us.”
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