Wizards-Crew Preview

Published Jul. 13, 2010 8:33 p.m. EDT

The Columbus Crew haven't lost in three matches since returning from the World Cup break to maintain their spot atop the Eastern Conference.

They're working on a much longer unbeaten streak against the Kansas City Wizards.

The Crew haven't lost to the Wizards in eight matches, and they can make it five consecutive wins over their struggling conference rivals Wednesday night at Columbus.

After heading into the three-week World Cup layoff on a three-match winless streak, the Crew (8-2-4) have reversed course since returning to action. Columbus beat D.C. and Chicago at home before earning a point in a scoreless draw at Houston on Saturday.


"Anytime you can go on the road against an established team like Houston in the heat out here, a tie is a good point," defender Danny O'Rourke said after the Crew preserved their two-point lead on second-place New York. "... A point on the road, we'll definitely take it. They always say a point on the road and three at home."

The Crew have certainly been successful at sticking to that adage by winning six of seven at home, outscoring opponents 11-5.

Facing Kansas City (3-8-3) should provide an excellent opportunity for the Crew to pick up another home victory. They've won four straight against the Wizards dating to the 2008 conference semifinals and are 6-0-2 in the series since the beginning of the 2008 season.

Kansas City has lost all three matches since returning from the break. None was more discouraging than Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Chivas USA, as the Wizards outshot their opponent 17-8 but were burned by a pair of mistakes from veteran defender Jimmy Conrad.

"We did everything that you need to do to win the game," captain Davy Arnaud said. "But unfortunately we come out on the wrong end of things again. This might not sound right, but the way we played tonight is a positive sign."

While Conrad's mistakes were hardly the first made this season by Kansas City's central defense, the team's biggest issue is its lack of offense. The Wizards haven't scored in 325 minutes since Graham Zusi's first-half goal in a 2-0 victory against Philadelphia on June 10.

Kei Kamara, who has six of the team's 11 goals, has scored once in seven games.

Columbus, meanwhile, is playing well despite getting little from Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The striker leads the team with five goals, but - like Kamara - has scored once in his last seven matches.

Schelotto, who assisted on Emilio Renteria's goal in a 1-0 victory in Kansas City on May 23, scored three times in two meetings against the Wizards last season.