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Pregame 13: Chivas USA @ Crew

June 14, 2009

NOTE: After a week off, posting will return to normal.

The Crew face off against the team with the best record in MLS today at Crew Stadium as Chivas comes to town. The Crew are still shorthanded with injuries, international call ups, and suspensions taking their toll on the team’s outstanding depth. Columbus is without it’s first choice goalie, holding midfielder, central defender, and right back. Those role players who have played well all season are going to have to continue to step up as the team continues to be short handed.

Crew on Offense: The Crew are well stocked on the offensive end of the field. Led by the talented Guillermo Barros Schelotto , Columbus has the offense to run with anyone in the league. Schelotto has picked up goal scoring duties this year. He has scored from the spot, free kicks, poached a couple, and some with his head.

There have been signs of life from the rest of the offense as of late. Emmanuel Ekpo and Robbie Rogers have been dangerous at times on the wings and Gaven has had his usual up and down form, but looks comfortable in the middle of the field. Having the midfield interplay would greatly reduce the reliance of Schelotto. The Crew also have a wealth of options at forward with Moreno coming back from international duty and Pat Noonan recently getting some playing time. There is enough talent on offense to allow Schelotto that creator role again, but the midfield has to return to flowing interplay and utilize that holding forward that Moreno provides.

Crew on Defense: The defense has been the weaker part of the team. All members of the back line have been out due to injury or suspension this year, Brian Carroll has missed the last couple games, and Hesmer is still nursing his bad back. Without consistency, the Crew have had trouble on the defensive end. Eric Brunner has been a revelation in central defense as has O’Rourke as he moved into midfield. Jed Zayner has filled in well in the right side of defense.

With all of the great performances, the defense will be extended again today. Hejduk, Marshall, Carroll, Iro and Oughton are out or coming back from injury. Brunner, O’Rourke, Padula, and Zayner are the probable starters across the back. Kevin Burns looks to get his first start in defensive midfield. They will have to battle some of the toughest (dirtiest) players in MLS. Chivas has speed on the wings and talented forwards. Despite not playing with each other and having a new man in the holding spot in the midfield, the Crew defense faces a stern test.

Final Thoughts: I am expecting a rough game. Chivas brings practically everything but weapons on to the field when the battle it out. The Crew have had a tough time against the rough play in the past, and probably will again if the physical play escalates today. This is a team that is getting a little winning swagger back. They have not lost in 9 games and have three wins in the last month. Chivas is starting to sputter and is coming off a midweek game.

Chivas USA 1 – Crew 2

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