GDANSK, Poland (AP) – Enjoying their longest unbeaten streak of the year, the Columbus Crew could have a hard time extending it in Chicago.
It's been more than five years since Columbus last beat the Fire in Chicago, which enters Saturday night's matchup seeking a fourth consecutive home victory.
The Crew (5-4-4) are sixth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the fourth-place Fire (6-5-3). Columbus has a chance to overtake Chicago due to its current 3-0-3 run, with four of those games coming on the road.
The Crew posted their third shutout over that stretch last Saturday as Andy Gruenebaum made six saves in a scoreless draw with New England.
"We've had a lot of games on the road lately and only one at home in the last long stretch that we've had. We know that we're going to have to build ourselves on the road and build that confidence on the road," Gruenebaum told the league's official website. "I think we're going in with that mentality that if we can keep a zero on their end, then maybe we can steal one."
Gruenebaum has been superb during Columbus' run, allowing three goals while making 34 saves. His 57 saves on the season rank second in the league.
"He is a big part of the stretch we have right now," coach Robert Warzycha said. "I told the guys a long time ago, I don't want my goalkeeper to be the man of the match,' but (last Saturday) he was the man of the match."
Gruenebaum could have his hands full versus Chicago, which has scored seven goals during its season-best three-game winning streak at Toyota Park.
The Fire are 3-0-4 in their last seven home meetings with the Crew, dating to Oct. 7, 2006.
After dropping back-to-back road matches in league play before a two-week break for international play, the Fire got back on track with Sunday's 3-1 home victory over New York. Patrick Nyarko opened the scoring in the fourth minute and later assisted on Chris Rolfe's goal. Gonzalo Segares also scored.
"We feel that we do have players that can change the game, create opportunities, and score," said coach Frank Klopas, whose team is 4-1-2 at home. "I think overall, from start to finish, it's better. Now we have to continue to build.
"It's on to the next game. The important thing is that we're all focused on reaching our goals in the end. This is behind us. Fantastic. Very good victory. Now back to work."
Chicago had taken three straight in this series before falling 2-1 at Columbus on May 26.
While the Crew will be without midfielder Milovan Mirosevic (adductor strain) for the third time in four games, forward Aaron Schoenfeld is expected to play for the first time since rupturing the plantar fascia in his right foot April 28.