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Pregame: 11

May 30, 2009

I had this game circled earlier in the year, the revenge matchup against Sigi, but now it’s hard to bear a grudge with the coach that made a championship team. It’s also hard to think about trivial matters like revenge with the Crew still suffering an early season hangover and a rash of injuries and international callups. I am looking at this game as survival, Seattle has cooled a little since the hot start, but they are still tough at home and are getting healthier. It also doesn’t help when the coach on the opposing sideline knows the team backwards and forwards.

Crew on Offense: The offense is finally starting to click. Schelotto is still instrumental, but Rogers is regaining his sharpness, Ekpo is looking like the game breaker the Crew thought he was, and Gaven is making the difference in the middle of the field. The Crew will have to do more of the same to keep the offensive streak going.

An in form Rogers and Ekpo will make Seattle’s job tougher. Both have speed to burn and can tear defenses apart. This will lighten the load on Moreno and Schelotto up front and better control possession to take the load off the shifting midfield and defensive lines. Forcing Seattle’s makeshift midfield to defend will also isolate the dangerous Montero.

Crew on Defense: Here is the hard part. Carroll is out, as is Hejduk and Hesmer. That is a lot of defensive talent to lose. Zayner has been solid, if unspectacular filling in for the captain and will have to put in another good game to keep the Crew defense solid on the backline. Gruenebaum, likewise, has been admirable as Hesmer’s replacement.

The key is who replaces the Crew’s fulcrum in the middle. Odds are that Danny O’Rourke will fill in at his old position. He, however, is a much more limited version of a defensive midfielder. The Crew has to hope that Gaven and O’Rourke form a solid pairing quickly to ensure that the midfield doesn’t struggle against the talented Seattle midfield.

Final Thoughts: A short week, a cross country trip, a former coach on the other sideline, injuries piling up, and a tough opponent on the road. This is a game that most teams struggle to win (or even tie). This will be a good test to see if the early season doldrums have been shaken off. I think that the Crew have enough to at least get a point.

Crew 1 – Seattle 1

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