Union takes to the road to face Columbus

Posted: March 21, 2014

WITH TWO games under its belt, the Union has gone more than 180 minutes without trailing in a match this season. Tomorrow, the Union will look to extend that streak while earning its second victory of the young season.

The Union (1-0-1) will be matched against the Columbus Crew (1-0-0) at Crew Stadium (6 p.m.).

Midfielder Brian Carroll, now in his fourth season with the Union, spent three seasons with Columbus from 2008-10. After being scratched from last Saturday's match because of the flu, Carroll's return comes at a perfect time for the Union.

"It's nice to be back and feeling like myself again," Carroll said after yesterday's practice at PPL Park. "Whoever we roll out there, we are going to be excited to go out there for [the Crew's] home opener and try to rise to the occasion. You would always like to score against your old team, too. There's always a little something when you play an old team, but it's really just about going out and getting your business done on the field."

Forward Jack McInerney said having Carroll back will provide a boost.

"I think having Carroll back will be big for us, especially in this game because is going to be looking to get the ball and I know previous times we have looked for [Carroll] to stay with him, so it's definitely a big addition," McInerney said."

Under first-year coach Gregg Berhalter, the Crew has a few pieces that could be a problem for the Union. Higuain, who led Columbus in its 2014 season opener with two goals against D.C. United, along with first-year defender Michael Parkhurst, are two players Union manager John Hackworth noted.

"Higuain is kind of the playmaker for them," Hackworth said. "He can show up all over the field and really unbalances defenses with his movement off the ball, but also with his ability to make the pass and pick teams apart. Michael Parkhurst is a new player for them, a guy that I have a lot of respect for. I really think he brings a lot to solidifying their defense. He's probably one of the most composed defenders in our league, for sure."

Coming off a 3-0 win over D.C. United on March 8, the Crew has not played a match since, which the Union believes is to its advantage.

"Hopefully we can go in there and grab another win," McInerney said. "I think they are high and confident because they got a 3-0 win in D.C., but they've had some time off and are probably going to come out a little rusty so we need to take advantage of that."

Fred's back

Since early March, the Union has been in talks with Brazilian midfielder Fred to give the team even more depth. While some uncertainty had prolonged the completion of the deal for a few weeks, the player known throughout the locker room as "Grandpa'' will join one of the youngest teams in the MLS.

Yesterday, the Union officially signed Fred, who last played with Philadelphia during the team's inaugural season in 2010. Fred was acquired via an MLS waiver draft and will join the team pending reception of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

Fred, 34, most recently played for Australian club Melbourne Heart. He also spent the previous four seasons with D.C. United. After playing in 25 games in 2010 with the Union - including 24 starts - Fred is expected to have a much more limited role with the team, but will be another veteran leader in an otherwise young locker room.

Notes

Veteran forward Connor Casey (calf) looks to return to the field after spending the first two games on the sideline . . . Although defender Sheanon Williams (quadriceps) was able to work out without pain on Wednesday, John Hackworth said he is still on the road to recovery and behind Casey as far as returning to the field . . . Defender Austin Berry left last Saturday's 1-0 victory over New England with hamstring tightness, but Hackworth said Berry felt good on Wednesday . . . The lockout of MLS's referees ended following an agreement with the league on a 5-year labor contract. Replacements had been used for the first two weekends of the season.

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