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Revs, Crew bring new looks into traditional matchup

Jul 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez (9) gives a thumbs up after a narrow miss on a shot during the first half of the MLS game against the FC Cincinnati at Lower.com Field in Columbus on July 17, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus DispatchMls Fc Cincinnati At Columbus Crew
Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Columbus Crew, behind the exploits of newcomer Cucho Hernandez, will look to extend the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS when they host the New England Revolution on Saturday.

Hernandez, a 23-year-old forward from Colombia, has scored four goals in three games for the Crew (7-5-8, 29 points) since his transfer from England’s Watford. He can become the fifth player in league history to score in his first four MLS games.

“When you buy a big signing, a profile signing, you just hope he can do what Cucho is doing,” former MLS star Bradley Wright-Phillips told MLS.com. “It’s unbelievable. It’s a lift to the team. Imagine where he is confidence-wise?”

The Crew are 4-0-4 in their past eight games going back to May 28 as they have recovered from consecutive 2-0 defeats to New York City FC and Los Angeles FC earlier that month.

New England (6-7-7, 25 points) hopes its newest addition will provide a spark as well. Giacomo Vrioni, 23, transferred from famed Italian club Juventus FC on July 5 and may debut off the bench Saturday.

The forward from Albania had limited action with Juventus before spending this past season on loan to WSG Tirol of the Austrian Bundesliga, where he scored 19 goals.

“I had a lot of teams (try to sign me) at the end of the season, but I had a call with the coach (Bruce Arena) and a call with a lot of people here and I feel comfortable,” Vrioni said. “I saw that they believe a lot in me, and this, for the player, is very important.”

The Revolution, which led MLS with 73 points last season while winning their first Supporters’ Shield, are 0-2-2 in the past four games.

They must figure a way to stop Hernandez, who became the first player in MLS history to score four goals within his first 90 minutes of playing time.

“When you look at the goals he has scored, they’re all different types of goals,” Crew coach Caleb Porter said. “That makes him harder to game plan for.”

— Field Level Media