Sputtering Crew aim to stop slide vs. Minnesota United (Jul 04, 2017)

BY AP • July 3, 2017

The Columbus Crew SC get another crack at an expansion team Tuesday when they visit Minnesota United FC.

Columbus, however, is hoping the result is better than those against the other first-year MLS club.

The Crew (8-10-1) are coming off their second setback to Atlanta United in three weeks, a 2-0 home loss on Saturday in which Columbus' only shot on goal came in the 13th minute.

Minnesota (5-10-3) didn't fare any better in its last outing Thursday. Christian Ramirez gave the Loons a 1-0 lead on his 10th goal, but New York City FC answered with the final three tallies for the win at Yankee Stadium.

"He has good movement off the ball, very good movement, so he's always looking to get behind the defense," Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said of Ramirez, who is tied fourth in MLS in goals. "He's a typical striker in the right place at the right time."

Columbus' problems are mystifying considering it was in second place in the Eastern Conference on May 13. The Crew has dropped five of seven to fall to sixth and their 32 goals allowed are the most in the conference.

Minnesota was expected to struggle in its rookie season and has, especially on the road (0-7-2).

Coach Adrian Heath, however, is not accepting the manner in which the Loons let the match slip away vs. NYCFC.

"I think they wanted the game more than us, and that's a really sad thing to say -- that the opposition wanted to win the game more than you," Heath said.

Maybe returning to TCF Bank Stadium will be the elixir. Minnesota, with a 5-3-1 record there, starts a five-game homestand that runs through Aug. 5.

Minnesota is 2-0-1 in its past three home matches, outscoring the visitors 6-4.

"Our much-maligned away form has been well documented, but at home it's been a different (story)," Heath said on Monday. "I want us to carry on because the last four or five games we've been really good at home. We've got good support from the crowd and hopefully we can continue that."

Minnesota has two extra days of rest but will be without three players because of national team duties: forward Johan Venegas (Costa Rica) and defenders Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica).

Columbus' third-leading scorer Justin Meram (eight goals), who sustained an ankle injury Saturday, went through a full practice Monday, Berhalter said.

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