Pregame 23: Crew @ Red Bulls
For a game with one team nearly secure in the playoffs and one all but out, this evening’s game has quite a few subplots. The Crew were demolished midweek in Mexico and New York won it’s first game in three months. Both teams will be taking the game seriously; both having something to prove. The Richie Williams led Red Bulls are trying to show that the 2009 season can be laid at Osorio’s feet. The Crew want to rebound from a midweek game to forget and get a result in a stadium they haven’t won in since 2003.
Crew on Offense: It looks like the Crew will do without Schelotto on the rock hard turf in New Jersey. This means that Warzycha has choices to make. I see him using a two striker formation with Moreno and Lenhart starting out with Renteria available to make a sub for a late change of pace.
The possession game is harder to play on the turf so it will be important that the midfielders control the ball and be able to link defense to offense and resist the playing direct. Crew losses in the Meadowlands have been the partial result of the offense unable to build and keep possession and forced to dump the ball forward aimlessly. If the Crew start playing long ball early, it could be another poor offensive game in New York.
Crew on Defense: New York has always had weapons, but injury, dreadful form, and poor coaching have doomed the Red Bulls to one of the worst seasons in MLS. Angel is healthy and scoring and the new coach has everyone playing with newfound passion. A game that looked like an easy win a month ago will now provide a stern test for the Crew defense.
The defense had awful games on Wednesday and will be hoping to get back to form. Marshall is very familiar with Angel and has won quite a few matchups with the Columbian. Brunner will have to contend with crafty vet John Wolyniec. Wolyniec has an ability to score goals against the Crew. I will also be mist interested in the Richards/Padula matchup. Richards speed has the ability to give Padula fits.
Final Thought: Without much on the line this game could be a snoozer, but New York will be auditioning for jobs next year and the Crew will want to return to their winning ways. I see Columbus squeaking out their first win in New Jersey in 6 years.
Crew 2 – NYRB 1