|Scoreboard|||||Match Schedule|||||Standings|||||Teams|||||Player Leaders|
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- The Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew both are on a bit of a roll heading into their matchup Saturday night, though Chicago seems to have the upper hand if recent history is any indication.
The Fire seek their first four-game winning streak over the Crew in more than 11 years when the Eastern Conference foes battle in Columbus.
Chicago (5-3-3) is 3-1-1 in its last five matches following a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Wednesday. Marco Pappa assisted on Sebastian Grazzini's goal in the 45th minute and scored the winner in the 63rd.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson stopped a penalty shot for the Fire, who are three points ahead of the Crew for fourth place in the East.
"As a team, we're really looking forward to Saturday," defender Dan Gargan said. "We were looking at this week as a big week for us. The team once again showed some serious resolve coming back from a deficit to get our three points, which is big. That's a great step in the right direction to go into a tough game on Saturday."
Chicago, though, has yet to win consecutive games this season.
"We have to build momentum and string together some wins," defender Austin Berry said. "The team's playing well right now, so it's just building on things we've been doing right the last few weeks and going to Columbus and coming out with three points."
That hasn't been a problem lately. The Fire have beaten the Crew three straight times, most recently winning 3-2 on Oct. 22 when Jalil Anibaba scored twice.
Chicago hasn't won four straight over Columbus since a five-game streak Oct. 10, 1999-Sept. 9, 2000.
The Crew have won just twice in the past 13 meetings but are 2-0-2 in their last four contests overall, including a 2-0 victory over Seattle on Wednesday as Justin Meram and Emilio Renteria scored.
Coach Robert Warzycha said the team is playing the same as it did when it went 0-3-2 in the five games prior to its current run.
"Nothing has changed. You win some games and you lose some games," Warzycha told the team's official website. "Sometimes what you do on the field is right and sometimes what you do on the field is wrong."
Columbus (4-4-3) has battled a series of injuries recently, including captain Chad Marshall missing the last four games due to a concussion. Marshall will sit out again Saturday, and the status of forward Danny O'Rourke is uncertain due to a left ankle sprain suffered Wednesday.
The Crew are returning home after an impressive two-game western trip which began with a 1-1 draw against West-leading San Jose on Saturday.
"To be honest, phenomenal. Our best player, captain, didn't even (play). So many injuries," midfielder Cole Grossman said. "To come and play two of the best teams in the league and come away with four points is great going forward into the season."
Updated May 25, 2012