Pregame 21: Crew @ Quakes
Columbus continues to rack up the frequent flier miles, heading cross country to San Francisco to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. The Crew will be part of the “Night of Champions” doubleheader with Barcalona and Chivas de Guadalajara at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. With almost 70,000 people watching on, the Crew will be on center stage with a chance to impress.
Crew on Offense: Without Schelotto, it has been offense by committee. Garey and Lenhart have 5 goals in his absence. Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven have also chipped in one each. At times the offense has flowed with quick passing and well taken shots, last week the team sputtered as Rogers and Gaven didn’t threaten Colorado.
The past couple of games highlight the key to the Crew offense, the wings. Carroll and O’Rourke are two defensive midfielders that aren’t naturally skilled at going forward any contributions from those two are a bonus. It is Gaven, Rogers, and Ekpo with Padula and Zayner in support that will have to open up opposing defenses.
An idea game would see Rogers using his speed to get behind the defense with Gaven using his dribble and pace to open up the other side with the outside backs providing support. This would allow the forward tandem, probably Lenhart and Moreno, to find the seams and get into goal scoring position. The only wildcard is the possible return of Adam Moffat. He is an outstanding two way midfielder. He would add offense to center of the midfield.
Crew on Defense: The Crew defense is still without it’s leader in Frankie Hejduk, but Jed Zayner has filled in well. The place for concern is on the left side. Gino Padula has struggled against fast players in space. He won’t have to face Omar Cummings this week, but Ryan Johnson does have pace and did cause the Crew problems in May at Crew Stadium, eventually picking up a goal.
The Quakes also have some players back like Darren Huckerby and new additions like midfielders Ramon Sanchez and Andre Luiz for this game. San Jose looks much different with Huckerby in the lineup. He makes the right pass, opening up defenses. Sanchez and Luiz connect the defense and offense in a way that San Jose hasn’t been able to do this year. They were instrumental in controlling the game against Seattle last week. O’Rourke and Carroll will have to play very solid games to disrupt the new additions to the Quakes midfield.
Final Thoughts: San Jose has given the Crew problems since they came back to the league. They are the last team to beat the Crew at home and almost beat them two other times in the past two years. They will probably be buoyed by a big crowd tonight too. Columbus has finally gotten some depth back. The game will come down to that depth. Players like Ekpo, Moffat, and perhaps Garey will have to make a difference when called upon.
Crew 2 – SJ 1