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Pregame 10: Quakes @ Crew

May 27, 2009

The Crew had a nice long weekend, but now get back to work with a midweek game and a cross country flight for a game at Sigi’s Seattle on Saturday evening. The Crew are not in must win mode yet; there is still enough games left to turn the season around. If Columbus is to start turning the season around, they need to win games at home against the bottom of the league San Jose. So in a way, this is a must win game.

Crew on Offense: I swing between whether the offense is broken or not. They have scored upon occasion, but have not turned the many, many chances into goals. This is a team that seems to lack what ever it was last year’s team had to turn half chances into goals. I think one part of that equation was a healthy and in form Robbie Rogers. Rogers was needed to wreak havoc on opposing defenses even when he wasn’t scoring. This year he’s not scoring, but not really making defenses worry about him. The same went for Gaven and now goes for Ekpo on the right side. This is a team that needs steady contributions from all parts of the field.

Moreno has not been the same goal poaching force in the middle of the park and hasn’t been able to work with the absent wingers. Without consistent threats from the outside and an overworked Moreno up top, Schelotto has had to do the heavy lifting in the middle of the field. He has responded with some great goals, but the balance the team had last year is lost. The talk about a 3-4-3 is just to counter the fact that the wing play has left the Crew’s strikers isolated and outnumbered.

Crew on Defense: More transition on the weaker side of the 2009 Crew. Danny O’Rourke will be missing due to suspension and Eric Brunner will once again be called to replace someone on the back line. I think O’Rourke’s form this year has been subpar and I will be interested to see how Brunner pairs with Marshall in the heart of the defense. The Crew lose a little speed, but gain a tremendous height advantage. Hesmer remains out, Gruenebaum gets another start. He has been solid for the most part.

The real destabilizer on the backline is the possibility that captain Frankie Hejduk will be missing again. Jed Zayner has been a decent backup, but has had up and down games. San Jose doesn’t have the best offense (they just signed Cornell Glen), but the Crew defense has proven to be extremely soft, especially late in the game. Playing a tight, controlled defensive game across the back line will take a little bit of that late game pressure off. Especially since the weather is hot and humid, perfect for another late game swoon.

Final Thoughts: This is the game where the Crew have to get back on track. San Jose is a team on a big slide and is an awful road team. Columbus is going to go into a tough stretch starting with a short week, cross country trip to Seattle, followed by the loss of at least a few key personnel for the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup tournaments. Even though it isn’t, this is a must win game. If the Crew can’t take advantage of a golden opportunity to get win number two, this season will be longer than anyone expected. I think they have it in them to get out of the basement.

San Jose 0 – Crew 2

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