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Pregame 15: Red Bull @ The Crew

June 27, 2009

New York Red Bull @ Columbus Crew (7:30 ET – Crew Stadium)

The Crew come off another road hiccup with the perfect pick me up, a game against a woeful New York Red Bull team. New York has not won on the road (in the regular season) since last May and are 0-8-1 this season away from home. The Crew have not lost at home since last June. This replay of MLS Cup 2008 won’t be a matchup of top teams, but it is still a chance for New York to break out of a year long slump or the Crew to resume their march back to the upper echelon of MLS.

Crew on Offense: Guillermo did not bring the goals last week and the Crew offense struggled, it was probably more related to the heat and midfield struggles last week, but it is a testament to Schelotto’s influence on this team. Robbie Rogers showed signs of some of his breakout speed, but still is lacking the touch he had last year to spring him past the defense. This is the last week he will get a chance to break a game open for the Crew for a while. He will be joining the US National Team for the Gold Cup in July.

Gaven was left off the final Gold Cup roster and will now have to shoulder more of the offensive burden. He has slowed lately and as a result, the Crew haven’t been able to counter as effectively. He might make a move to the wing in future games, but will have to work with Carroll to reestablish midfield dominance. Without a strong center midfield, the Crew offense can’t counter or hold possession effectively.

There is one addition to the Crew that should help the offense. Frankie Hejduk is finally back in the lineup. The right back’s influence on the offense can be felt in more ways than his crosses. His overlapping runs peel away defenders from Ekpo or Gaven, allowing for more space. Having that player that can change the balance and throw a defense out of alignment will aid a Crew offense that still is finding it’s footing.

Crew on Defense: I noted Hejduk’s offensive influence, but he is still a very good defender. His experience and leadership will be needed in the coming weeks. His return,also, allows for much needed depth on the Crew’s back line. His understudy, Jed Zayner joins Eric Brunner and Andy Iro as young talented players who can step into the lineup as needed.

That depth will be tested again as Chad Marshall will be leaving with Rogers for the Gold Cup. No one manhandles strong forwards like Marshall. He again will be tasked with trying to contain a hobbling Juan Pablo Angel. Angel can still be dangerous even when playing with a couple nagging in juries. New York does not have a lot of other offensive weapons. This team is pretty barren.

Final Thoughts: This is a team that the Crew needs to be able to take care of business against. New York is a horrible road team coming off of a midweek game. A Crew loss would be devastating for the Crew. It would be dropping easy points at home. A win would keep pushing them up the standings towards first place D.C. United and the rest of the Eastern Conference leadership.

NYRB 0 – Crew 2

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