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Red Bulls-Crew Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- The New York Red Bulls have put together a pair of dominating performances on their home turf the last two weeks.
They'll try to continue that effort on the road against a Columbus team coming off back-to-back shutout wins.
The Red Bulls and Crew each will be looking for a third straight victory Saturday in Columbus.
After losing its first two games, New York (2-2-0) bounced back impressively, beating Colorado 4-1 on March 25 and defeating Montreal 5-2 last Saturday.
Thierry Henry had a hat trick in the win over the Impact, including two goals in the second half to break open a 2-2 game. Henry, who had 15 goals last season, also had two against the Rapids.
"He's an animal," teammate Dax McCarty said. "He's literally as close to unstoppable as it comes in this league, especially the way he is playing now. When you see how motivated he is, especially now that he realizes how difficult this league is. I think he has taken it to another level. He gets better every game.
"With the exception of the first half, we are going to be very difficult if he keeps playing like this. It seems like every time he shoots the ball, it goes in."
Overshadowed by Henry's second straight breakout game was Kenny Cooper scoring his fourth goal of the season. He had eight with Portland last season.
With nine of the team's 10 goals coming from that pair, New York is still looking for production from their wingers, particularly Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere, who combined for 15 goals last season.
"We need probably a little bit more from our wide players when we're on the road," coach Hans Backe told the league's official website. "Wide right, wide left has to be more creative. I think that's key."
As the Red Bulls look for more balanced production, they'll try to take their momentum on the road. They were outscored 4-1 in a pair of road games to open the season and are winless in their last eight visits to Columbus (0-6-2) while getting outscored 11-2.
Adding to New York's pressure to end that streak is that Columbus (2-1-0) hasn't allowed a goal in 181 minutes. It defeated Toronto 1-0 last Saturday, with Bernardo Anor scoring in the 56th minute and Andy Gruenebaum making three saves.
"Game in and game out, the guys in front of me are incredible," said Gruenebaum, who has given up two goals on 14 shots. "We stress team defending first and if we can shut the other team down, we can create our own chances. I think we are good enough going forward to get one on the road and hold on."
His impressive work has helped Columbus, which has been held to three goals in its first three games.
Updated April 5, 2012