Crew-Fire Preview

Enjoying their longest unbeaten streak of the year, the Columbus

Crew could have a hard time extending it in Chicago.

It’s been more than five years since Columbus last beat the Fire

in Chicago, which enters Saturday night’s matchup seeking a fourth

consecutive home victory.

The Crew (5-4-4) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, two points

behind the fourth-place Fire (6-5-3). Columbus has a chance to

overtake Chicago due to its current 3-0-3 run, with four of those

games coming on the road.

The Crew posted their third shutout over that stretch last

Saturday as Andy Gruenebaum made six saves in a scoreless draw with

New England.

“We’ve had a lot of games on the road lately and only one at

home in the last long stretch that we’ve had. We know that we’re

going to have to build ourselves on the road and build that

confidence on the road,” Gruenebaum told the league’s official

website. “I think we’re going in with that mentality that if we can

keep a zero on their end, then maybe we can steal one.”

Gruenebaum has been superb during Columbus’ run, allowing three

goals while making 34 saves. His 57 saves on the season rank second

in the league.

“He is a big part of the stretch we have right now,” coach

Robert Warzycha said. “I told the guys a long time ago, I don’t

want my goalkeeper to be the man of the match,’ but (last Saturday)

he was the man of the match.”

Gruenebaum could have his hands full versus Chicago, which has

scored seven goals during its season-best three-game winning streak

at Toyota Park.

The Fire are 3-0-4 in their last seven home meetings with the

Crew, dating to Oct. 7, 2006.

After dropping back-to-back road matches in league play before a

two-week break for international play, the Fire got back on track

with Sunday’s 3-1 home victory over New York. Patrick Nyarko opened

the scoring in the fourth minute and later assisted on Chris

Rolfe’s goal. Gonzalo Segares also scored.

“We feel that we do have players that can change the game,

create opportunities, and score,” said coach Frank Klopas, whose

team is 4-1-2 at home. “I think overall, from start to finish, it’s

better. Now we have to continue to build.

“It’s on to the next game. The important thing is that we’re all

focused on reaching our goals in the end. This is behind us.

Fantastic. Very good victory. Now back to work.”

Chicago had taken three straight in this series before falling

2-1 at Columbus on May 26.

While the Crew will be without midfielder Milovan Mirosevic

(adductor strain) for the third time in four games, forward Aaron

Schoenfeld is expected to play for the first time since rupturing

the plantar fascia in his right foot April 28.