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
“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.