Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew | MLS Match Preview

July 4, 2014 (WEEK 17, MLS Game #151)
7:30 p.m. MT (Altitude)

The annual Fourth of July extravaganza will be the stage as the Colorado Rapids meet the Columbus Crew on Friday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids put an end to a two-game winless run last weekend with a 2-0 home defeat of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Crew hit the road following a third consecutive draw, the last in a weather-delayed goalless draw with FC Dallas at Crew Stadium.

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda (replacing original referee Geoff Gamble).
MLS Career: 108 games
AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: Younes Marrakchi

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Bernardo Anor, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CLB: Waylon Francis, Giancarlo Gonzalez (CRC)

ALL-TIME (37 meetings): Rapids 18 wins (2 shootout), 52 goals … Crew 11 wins (1 shootout), 44 goals … Ties 8
AT COLORADO (18 meetings): Rapids 11 wins (1 shootout), 22 goals … Crew 3 wins (0 shootout), 13 goals … Ties 4

5/11: CLB 0, COL 2 (Buddle 8; Powers 69)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The Rapids have won the last three meetings between the clubs in league play, including a 2-0 victory last May 11 at Crew Stadium in the only encounter a year ago.
  • The Rapids have won the last three games in Commerce City, all by shutout. The Crew last won and scored at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in a 1-0 victory Aug. 1, 2009, now a span of 321 minutes there without a goal.
  • Coaches record: Gregg Berhalter vs. COL: first game … Pablo Mastroeni vs. CLB: first game

The Colorado Rapids returned to their winning ways after a pair of matches, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 25 points from 16 games.


  • The Rapids took the lead in the 20th minute. Using a turn to create space for himself in the box, Dillon Powers unleashed a low blast that found just enough space to squeeze past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted and the left-hand post.
  • A quarter of an hour later, Vancouver fullback Nigel Reo-Coker upended Rapids striker Deshorn Brown on the left side of the box, and referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot. Vicente Sanchez converted the penalty, firing home to give the home side a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute.
  • Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin was asked to make just a single save for the shutout, turning aside a deflected 83rd-minute shot by Whitecaps center back Johnny Leveron.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made two changes to the team that dropped a 3-2 decision to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. Vicente Sanchez and Jared Watts came into the side in place of Dillon Serna and Jose Mari.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-5-1): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Chris Klute - Vicente Sanchez (Marlon Hairston 69), Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers, Jared Watts, Kamani Hill (Edson Buddle 81) - Deshorn Brown.


  • The Rapids have taken 10 of a possible 12 points from their last four league home games. The Columbus match concludes a stretch of five home games out of six; the Rapids hit the road for games at Philadelphia and Portland next.
  • “Every game we’ve played this year, have come off the field exhausted. And that’s why we’ve been managing them through the week as best we can, to try to recover,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “... I think coming off an MLS break and a couple weeks of not playing MLS competition, to be able to respond like they did was a step in the right direction for the group.”
  • Vicente Sánchez converted a penalty kick for the league-leading sixth goal the Rapids have scored this season from a penalty kick, with a seventh coming from a rebound of a saved spot kick. “[Vicente] brings a lot of confidence for everyone else around him. It brings the whole team up,” Powers said postgame. “Stepping up for that [penalty kick], you know he’s going to score it. It’s nice to have another guy who can unlock the game in there.”
  • For Sánchez, it was his first goal since May 3, which was his last appearance when he was forced off with an injury in the 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy.
  • “He could’ve [gone 90 minutes],” Mastroeni said. “More importantly, for him, to finish the game in the form that he did, which was really good, and now to build on that next week.” Said Sánchez: “I don’t have any pain in my leg and the team collected three important points against Vancouver.”
  • Midfielder Jose Mari suffered a sprained ankle in training the day before the Vancouver match and will be unavailable for up to the next month.
  • Rookie Jared Watts started for a second game of the last three in a holding midfield role, playing alongside Nick LaBrocca in a deep-lying central axis.
  • “I think Marvell Wynne and Chris Klute did a really good job in the first half of putting them on their heels and creating imbalances in the midfield, releasing the attack, and I think a part of that was the stability that Nicky [LaBrocca] and Wattsy [Watts] provided in the midfield, allowing guys to get forward,” Mastroeni said. “That was a focus this week. I think they executed it to a 'T.'”
  • The Rapids also kept a clean sheet for the third time in the last four matches, and now have recorded eight shutouts in 16 league games this season, most in MLS.
  • “They found a way to shut that team out in the second half. You can’t teach that,” said Mastroeni. “You don’t work on that – you can talk tactics and techniques all you want, but on a given day, with emotions running high, [Vancouver] wanting to score a goal and wanting to get back in the game, the resiliency of the group and their ability to stick together, and work through those tough times, was tremendous.”
  • Said defender Shane O’Neill: “The communication on the backline was huge, it was a lot better, and I think going forward that has to be the standard. If that’s the case, I think we might go on a good run here.”

The Columbus Crew reached a third consecutive draw, the second in a row without a goal, finishing with a scoreless result against FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon at Crew Stadium. The Crew are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, with 19 points from 16 matches.


  • The match was postponed for one day after a fan was injured in a lightning storm during a weather delay.
  • FC Dallas came closest to scoring, twice seeing balls cleared off the line. The best chance came in the 13th minute, when Michel hit a firm shot from a corner kick, but Michael Parkhurst was in the perfect position to chest the ball off the line. Then in the 83rd minute, FCD substitute David Texeira headed down a cross that goalkeeper Steve Clark pinned the ball on the line for his lone save of the match.
  • FCD goalkeeper Chris Seitz was credited with two saves in keeping the clean sheet.
  • Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter made three changes to the team that reached a scoreless result with D.C. United at Crew Stadium. Chad Barson came into the back four for Tyson Wahl, Wil Trapp started in midfield in place of Agustin Viana, and Justin Meram started on the flank in favor of Ethan Finlay.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark - Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Michael Parkhurst, Bernardo Anor - Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp (Kevan George 68) - Hector Jimenez, Ben Speas (Federico Higuain 68), Justin Meram (Alvaro Rey 80) - Jairo Arrieta.


  • The Crew have gone 181 minutes since scoring their last goal in league play, coming away with three points over their last four matches. They have one win in their last 13 league games.
  • “We have ties pretty down pat right? We know how to tie a game, that’s for sure. This game needed a little bit extra quality because it wasn't going to be that beautiful game we imagined,” said Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter. “It was going to be a game of that “one” opportunity. Dallas had it and we had it. And both of us didn't convert. That was what the game was always going to be.”
  • Said winger Justin Meram: “We are not happy. We definitely could have got three points. We did not create enough, including myself. The first half I thought we were pretty good. The second half, I am not sure what happened. But we need to create more chances.”
  • Wil Trapp returned to the lineup after a three-match absence, coming into a deep-lying midfield role alongside Tony Tchani.
  • With Federico Higuaín again available following suspension, Ben Speas reprised his role as the attacking central midfielder. Higuaín came on for the final quarter of the match.
  • “If you saw what they were doing the second half, dropping off and being very compacted. On a hot day we are trying to move the ball but it is difficult,” said Berhalter. “We still put a lot of passes together, had a high passing accuracy but we miss that little bit of special quality to really break them down when we need to.”
  • After playing the D.C. United match at right back, Michael Parkhurst returned to central defense. Chad Barson made his first start in three games, since May 31, coming in at right back.
  • It was a third shutout in the last five MLS games for the Crew, after going 10 games without a clean sheet following their 3-0 season-opening win at D.C. United.
  • “I think we have seven or eight guys that are capable of getting the job done. Steve [Clark] made some good saves and that is what he us supposed to do,” said defender Eric Gehrig. “We are not surprised by that. Steve is a good goalkeeper. That is what you want your goalkeeper to do. Obviously, we need to be better on some of those plays. Overall, it was a good performance from the defense. We stayed together, talked, communicated, limited their chances, and that is how you get a shutout.”

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