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Pregame 24: Crew @ TFC

September 12, 2008

The regular season is grinding towards the end. The Crew have 7 games remaining and one of the easiest is at Toronto FC tomorrow. Easy, of course, being relative. The Crew have had a tough time on the plastic turf this year and will be playing without MVP candidate Guillermo Barros Schelotto. After four wins in a row, this looks like a trap game as the team may be looking ahead to upcoming games against New York and New England. I don’t think that will happen for a couple of reasons, this is a disciplined team and the players who get the start will have to perform to keep their jobs and the subs will be looking to impress.

Crew on Offense: The Schelotto show will have to rely on the rest of the ensemble this week. It is a very good cast on offense. The options include sliding Lenhart or Garey in as a second striker, or moving Gaven over and starting Ekpo or Noonan on the wing. Noonan could always start in Schelotto’s shadow striker role. There is not a bad choice among the options. It does appear that the Crew will try to counterattack on the turf rather than play the passing game it exclusively. Rogers can certainly breakout and Gaven has found open space as of late. I think the key will be in central midfield. Evans also has a bit of an injury. He has played well lately and has supported the offense well. Miglioranzi would be the starter if Evans cannot go. He will have to provide two way support and link with Carroll for the offense to work as it has been as of late. I think the team will have the skill to score a goal or two again a weakened Toronto defense. This is a good test for the offense to show why they deserve to play.

Crew on Defense: Again, there seems to be tough choices on who will be playing defense. Hejduk and Padula are certain to play wide, but Iro and O’Rourke will be battling to be paired with Marshall. I feel confident with either out there. O’Rourke is faster, but Iro is surprisingly quick. Both are tough and have improved since the beginning of the season. I expect that O’Rourke will be charged with covering Ruiz while also getting under his skin. I am pleased to see the defense starting to settle after some serious struggles earlier this year. That is also a estimate to Brian Carroll, who expertly closes down space in the central midfield. He will have to neutralize Guevara, much like he and Evans shut down Shalrie Joseph.

Final Thoughts: I am considering heading out to Tommy Keegan’s or Ruby’s for the game, but I will probably save the pennies towards some playoff tickets or even a playoff road trip (also why I did not end up in Toronto this weekend).

Crew 2 – TFC 1

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