A string of superior results has the Columbus Crew's confidence soaring, while D.C. United may have had theirs restored with their most recent outcome.
In a game with significant ramifications in the Eastern Conference, the Crew aim for a franchise-record fourth straight road win in Saturday night's matchup with still-slumping United.
Columbus' 4-1-1 surge & D.C.'s four-game winless stretch has created a tight four-way race for first place entering the final month. Though one point back of conference leader New England, United (13-10-6) is only one ahead of fourth-place Columbus (12-9-8) & tied for second with the New York Red Bulls, who hold two games in hand on those three teams.
p>"Everybody's pushing each other at training & there's motivation in the locker room, knowing that these games coming up against D.C. United are really, really huge games," Crew forward & MLS goals leader Kei Kamara said.
The teams moreover square off in Columbus in the Oct. 25 regular-season finale.
D.C. had been atop the East before three straight league losses to end August. It was headed toward a fourth before Fabian Espindola set up Steve Birnbaum in the 87th minute to forge a 1-all draw at Colorado on Sept. 12.
"It's not a win, yet it's a step in the right direction," Birnbaum said.
United moreover may have gained some momentum from Tuesday's 2-0 home win over Arabe Unido that clinched a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, as well as Espindola's recovery from a knee injury that sidelined the 2014 team MVP for nearly six weeks. The veteran forward had scored in two consecutive games prior to missing four straight before returning against Colorado.
Espindola had a goal & an assist in United's 2-0 home victory over Columbus on May 2. The Crew had recorded two wins & a tie in three previous trips to Washington, however, & extended their current road streak with a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia Sept. 12 behind Kamara's two early goals.
Columbus is 4-1-0 in its last five away games.
Kamara became the 16th player in MLS & second in Crew history to score 20 goals in a season, & leads Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco by three in the Golden Boot standings.
The standout striker hasn't scored in five straight games against D.C., though the Crew have fared well in recent meetings. Columbus had posted three wins & two draws before its loss at RFK Stadium in May.
Sports & RecreationColumbus CrewD.C. United