Crew looks to continue dominance over D.C. United

Having regained sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead, the Columbus Crew will try to stay in front by adding to their recent dominance over D.C. United.

While they were easily defeated by Columbus in this season’s opener, United will head into Saturday night’s rematch seeking a franchise record-tying third consecutive shutout and their first three-game win streak in two seasons.

After winning three in a row to open a season for the first time in franchise history, Columbus fell into a tie for first place following a 2-0 home loss to Toronto FC on April 5. The Crew moved one point ahead of TFC this past week with a 1-all draw at San Jose on Sunday.

Federico Higuain continued his hot start by scoring for the Crew (3-1-1). The forward has four goals and two assists in five games.

"Higuain is one of the very special players in MLS," D.C. goalkeeping coach Preston Burpo told his team’s website. "He was dangerous against us in the first game. He will be very active and find the ball in this game. He has freedom to roam around."

Higuain scored a pair of goals in a 3-0 win at D.C. on March 8, Columbus’ third consecutive victory in the series. The Crew have outscored their East rivals a combined 8-1 in those games and are seeking a fifth straight home win over United.

Higuain scored on a penalty kick in the most recent matchup at Crew Stadium, a 3-0 win April 27.

D.C. enters this game having shaken off an 0-2-1 start with Andrew Dykstra posting a pair of shutout victories in his first two games with the team. Dykstra, whose only other MLS experience was 17 games with Chicago in 2010, has been filling in for an injured Bill Hamid (toe).

After beating New England 2-0 on April 5, United (2-2-1) edged New York 1-0 this past Saturday with veteran midfielder Davy Arnaud scoring a goal in the fourth minute.

United have recorded three consecutive shutouts in MLS play twice in their history with the most recent streak coming Aug. 5-18, 2007.

"They’re different. They’re playing well," Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter told the team’s website. "They’ve won their last two games. They’ve been getting results. It’s a good team."

D.C., which finished with a franchise-low three wins and the fewest points in MLS in 2013, hasn’t won three in a row since Sept. 15-23, 2012.

D.C. lost 1-0 to Toronto on March 22 in its only road game this season, and the Crew have split their two home contests.