The Columbus Crew look to continue their upward trend during a roller-coaster season when they host the Chicago Fire at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday.
Columbus (5-3-3) has two wins and a pair of ties in its past four games. The Crew also opened the season with a four-match unbeaten streak (3-0-1) but that was followed by three successive losses.
One of those defeats was 1-0 at Chicago on April 7 even though the Fire (3-4-2) had only one shot on goal and was outshot 20-6.
“That was the most difficult game, probably not only this season, but when I was with Chicago,” third-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “That was definitely not the game we wanted to play. At the end we were lucky but we learned we had very good opponent.”
The Crew’s 18 points are their most through 11 games since Gregg Berhalter became coach in 2014. The Crew is fourth in the Eastern Conference but have played the most games.
Columbus has posted back-to-back shutouts, earning a 0-0 draw at the Seattle Sounders last Saturday despite being down a man for 75 minutes, and a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.
“I am really proud of how the guys have battled, the way we move across the field and our defensive shape has been excellent this year,” Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen said.
Chicago is also playing for the third time in eight days and rebounded from a 2-1 loss to Atlanta to down Montreal 1-0 on Wednesday when Kevin Ellis scored in the 89th minute.
“We’re showing something we haven’t had in the past,” Paunovic said. “We’re capable of, in the case of the game (Wednesday), of winning the game in the last moment.”
—Field Level Media