Red Bulls Seek First Road Win with Trip to Columbus

The New York Red Bulls look for three points Saturday as they face off with the Columbus Crew in their first Eastern Conference road match of the season.

Over the years we've seen a pretty common trend: New York and Columbus like to keep things close. Last year Columbus finished one point above New York in the final standings. In the 2010 season, New York finished one point above Columbus. Coming into Saturday's early season encounter, both sides are sitting on six points in the Eastern Conference. Just as the teams are knotted up in the standings, Head coach Hans Backe expects the match to reflect the same.

"Normally we have struggled against them away," Backe said. "But we know they are a physical side, they are hard to break down, well-organized."

The timing of Saturday's match could be arriving at the perfect time after New York put on goalscoring clinics in each of their first two regular season home matches at Red Bull Arena against Colorado and Montreal. The team combined for nine goals over the two matches, tripling Columbus' total goals scored this season. Coach Backe believes in his players and knows the quality his side possesses is capable of picking up three points on the road.

"I think we have players, comparing to our two home games, that can make a difference and win games like this," Backe said. "So, we definitely now go on the road to try to win, not to pick up a tie or anything. I think we're good enough to win away."

Overall Record
At Columbus
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"Overall we know that we just need to be more consistent over 90 minutes. We need to start better every game to be a team to challenge for something this year."

"We shouldn't be too negative after scoring nine goals at home and picking up six points, but I think we are competitive and we just need to lift our game over 90 minutes. It's not enough to do 45 well."

On Columbus

Columbus' top goal scorer last season, Andres Mendoza, was transferred to the Mexican club Atlante after two seasons with the Crew, so the attacking line looks significantly different than what New York faced last season. Head coach Robert Warzycha and General Manager Mark McCullers brought in forward Olman Vargas from Costa Rica's top division and midfielder Milovan Mirosevic from Chile's successful club Universidad Catolica to help out in attack. 

Columbus tends to attack with two up front in new acquisition Vargas, who has one goal to his name from Montreal's visit, and Venezuelan striker Emilio Renteria, while youngster Bernardo Anor coming in from the left. Anor scored in Columbus' 1-0 win in Toronto after a clinical counter attack by Columbus. Mirosevic scored a penalty kick against Montreal in Week 2, but Columbus' penalty taker has already missed from the spot as he did in the first half at BMO Field in Toronto.

Defensively, the Crew is led by two-time MLS Defender of the Year, Chad Marshall. Marshall and the Columbus back line have allowed just two goals in the first three matches.

First choice keeper William Hesmer has been recovering from a preseason ankle injury. Backup Andy Gruenebaum has played between the sticks for the Crew's first three matches surrendering just two goals, so the interim has not hurt Columbus greatly.

Did you know?: At just 16 years old, current Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven became the youngest player to play a game as a goalkeeper in MLS history when he played one minute in a game against DC United back in 2003. Who was he playing for at the time? New York.