With their starting goalkeeper still sidelined, the struggling Columbus Crew will again have to call on their young backup. This time, he'll have the challenge of trying to slow down one of MLS' top offenses.
Matt Lampson fills in for Andy Gruenebaum again Saturday night as Columbus hosts the New York Red Bulls.
Gruenebaum was a late scratch for last Saturday's 3-1 loss at Houston due to a shoulder injury and will also miss this match, coach Robert Warzycha told the team's official website.
The 23-year-old Lampson recorded one save in his second start of the year as Columbus (6-11-5) suffered its third straight loss and sixth in seven matches. The Crew had lost three in a row just twice over the past three seasons.
"We gave up three goals last week, but that's not his fault. He's a good goalkeeper, and at this point he's the best we have," Warzycha said of Lampson, who also made one save in a 1-0 home win over Portland on July 7. "He's learning and getting better, and obviously he needs some confidence. But he's very strong mentally, so I'm sure he's going to play well."
Lampson, in his second season, will face a Red Bulls squad leading the Eastern Conference with 36 goals. He was a second-half substitute in a 3-1 loss at New York on Sept. 15, surrendering Thierry Henry's highlight-worthy direct goal on a corner kick in stoppage time.
"My goal is to be the future goalkeeper of this team for quite a few years to come, and these games are invaluable to me to get consistent play at this level and constantly be learning," Lampson said.
The Red Bulls (11-7-5) are coming off back-to-back wins with a combined seven goals, including a 3-2 road victory over Sporting Kansas City last Saturday that propelled them to first place in the East.
They're 3-0-1 in MLS play since losing three of four.
"The last few games have shown us that, our grit and determination, we can grind out results, sometimes even if we're not playing well," midfielder Jonny Steele told the team's official website. "The heart and determination of the team is to try and get three points."
New York will again be without Tim Cahill - third on the team with six goals - as he remains out with a torn PCL. But Fabian Espindola has three goals over his last two matches to push his team-leading total to nine.
Henry has five goals in five career matches versus the Crew, including one in a 2-2 draw May 26. New York also claimed a 1-0 victory at Columbus on May 4 and is 3-0-3 over the last six meetings.
That six-match winless streak for the Crew, dating to a 2-0 win July 17, 2010, is the longest for either club in series history.