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MLS Preview: Crew aim to maintain perfect record

Columbus Crew will be out to preserve their 100 per cent record when they host Toronto in MLS action on Saturday.

The 2008 MLS Cup champions have made a bright start to life under head coach Gregg Berhalter, who replaced Brian Bliss in November, winning their opening three games to remain the only team with an unblemished record this season.

Berhalter has introduced an entertaining possession-based game to Columbus that has resulted in triumphs over DC United, Philadelphia Union and the Seattle Sounders to sit top of the Eastern Conference.

One player thriving since Berhalter’s arrival is Argentinean striker Federico Higuain, who has scored three goals in as many games.

Cashed-up Toronto are three points adrift of Berhalter’s men after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake and they head to Columbus Crew Stadium without their prized recruit Jermain Defoe.

Defoe has set the MLS alight, scoring all three of Toronto’s goals since joining from Premier League outfit Tottenham, but coach Ryan Nelsen has confirmed the England striker will miss the trip due to a slight hamstring strain.

In other games over the weekend, Western Conference leaders FC Dallas face Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Dallas, MLS Cup finalists in 2010, have scored a competition-high nine goals to be one of the early frontrunners but Houston will take heart from the fact they have only lost one of their previous 11 home games to Oscar Pareja’s men.

Defending champions Sporting Kansas City go head-to-head with Real Salt Lake in a rematch of last season’s final.

Sporting KC were the beneficiaries of a penalty shootout (7-6) after the season-decider finished 1-1 at the end of full-time.

Now Real Salt Lake have the opportunity to exact some revenge when they run out at Sporting Park on Saturday.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the winless Timbers play host to the Seattle Sounders in Portland and injured Australia international Tim Cahill will be out of action as New York Red Bulls take on the struggling Montreal Impact.

The Vancouver Whitecaps, fresh from their victory over Houston, entertain the Colorado Rapids, DC United and the New England Revolution square-off in Washington, while Chicago Fire return after a bye week to host the Philadelphia Union.

In Sunday’s only match, the Los Angeles Galaxy will be looking to get their season on track against Chivas USA.

Thu 3 April, 2014
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