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Columbus Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire | 2018 MLS Match Preview

Columbus Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire
2018 MLS Regular Season – Week 11

MAPFRE Stadium — Columbus
May 12 - 7:30 pm ET

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Two in-form Eastern Conference rivals square off at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday night when the Chicago Fire, who have lost just once in their last four games, face Columbus Crew SC, unbeaten in four straight.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Nemanja Nikolic scored the game’s only goal after 27 minutes for a 1-0 victory April 7 at Toyota Park. The Fire have won two of the past three meetings between the teams, after going 10 games winless against Crew SC, dating back to a 2-1 victory in Columbus on June 22, 2013. Crew SC had won five of the meetings in between, with five draws.

Crew SC are undefeated in their past seven home meetings in the series (5-0-2), the last win for the Fire in Columbus coming in 2013. 

Columbus Crew SC

Gregg Berhalter made five changes to his starting XI from the side that played Seattle Sounders FC to a 0-0 draw on Saturday, bringing Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Artur and Niko Hansen back into the lineup and starting Luis Argudo for a resting Federico Higuain, who came off the substitute’s bench for the final 31 minutes.

Gyasi Zardes scored the game’s lone goal in the 53rd minute, his sixth of the year as Columbus (5-3-3) rebounded from three consecutive defeats to win two of their last three games and take points from four straight.

“I think the mindset of the group is to just take one game at a time and focus all your energy on performing in training on that day, and then leading up to the weekend that you have a game,” Berhalter said after the game. “That’s our focus, and I know it’s difficult sometimes when losses pile on each other, but you have to be able to separate those and look at what’s in front of you.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: None

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Zack Steffen — Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela — Wil Trapp, Artur — Niko Hansen, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos — Gyasi Zardes

  • Notes: Zardes has six goals this season, tied for the second most he has had in a single season in his career. He had just two goals last season. …Columbus are unbeaten in their last four games and have not conceded a goal in their last two games (2W-2D). They have not kept clean sheets in three straight games since a four-game stretch from March 26-April 17, 2011.

Chicago Fire

Veljko Paunovic made one change to his starting XI from the side that fell to Atlanta United, 2-1, on Saturday, bringing on Alan Gordon to partner with Nikolic up top in an altered 4-3-2-1 formation.

A week after scoring his first goal since Sept. 2016, Kevin Ellis struck again, this time netting the dramatic late winner to lift the Fire to a 1-0 win over the Montreal impact Wednesday at Toyota Park.

The fullback now has a point in each of the last three games, his best offensive output since a four-goal, one-assist 2015 with Sporting Kansas City.

“God is good, man. I’m enjoying it,” Ellis said after the match. “It doesn’t happen often for anybody so when you can score in multiple games it’s exciting. I feel good, I’m just trying to enjoy it. But big picture, most important thing is we got a shutout and we got three points.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Djordje Mihailovic (right ACL surgery), M - Drew Conner (right gastric injury), F - Michael de Leeuw (left ACL surgery), D - Matt Polster (right MCL sprain), F - Luis Solignac (left quad), M - Jon Bakero (right ankle)

Projected Starting XI
(4-1-2-1-2, right to left)
GK: Richard Sanchez — Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent — Dax McCarty — Mo Adams, Elliott Collier — Bastian Schweinsteiger — Nemanja Nikolic, Aleksandar Katai

  • Notes: Ellis has scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He has two goals this season - his career high for a single season is four (2015 with SKC). … The Fire are unbeaten in their last two road games (1W-1D), their longest streak since a five-game run from May 6-July 5, 2017 (2W-3D).

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Columbus Crew SC 18 wins, 91 goals … Chicago Fire 26 wins, 87 goals … 18 ties
  • At Columbus: Crew SC 12 wins, 55 goals … Fire 10 wins, 39 goals … 8 ties
  • Last meeting at Columbus: Columbus Crew SC 3, Chicago Fire 1 (Aug. 12, 2017)


Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Adam Wienckowski, Michael Kampmeinert
4th Official: Marcos Deoliveira
VAR: Edwin Jurisevic

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Season Stats

Columbus Crew SCChicago Fire
11Games Played9
10Goals Conceded14
42Shots on Target38
123Fouls committed105
120Fouls suffered83

Goals Scored


Goals Conceded

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