Pregame 29: Crew @ United
Columbus rolls into the nations capitol after a road win at New England. They can win the Supporters Shield with a win and a Chivas loss. This is a team that still has something to play for as the Shield means a lot to the players and the large travelling contingent of fans would love nothing more that to end DC’s playoff hopes for the second year in a row.
Crew on Offense: Warzycha has a lot of options on offense. Schelotto has been well rested over the past couple weeks, missing any game on turf. With Tuesday’s game in Puerto Rico on the fake stuff, look for Guille to pull the strings on offense. It will be interesting to see who gets to start with him at striker. Moreno played midweek, and may get rested. Lenhart has been an option off the bench, but Renteria has really come on strong in the last month. I still think that Lenhart will get the nod and Renteria and Moreno will fight to be the first option off the bench.
Robbie Rogers also returns and should be full of confidence after his high impact sub appearance at Wednesday’s National Team game. He has been inconsistent in recent weeks. He certainly has all of the tools to make an impact, I would imagine that he has been struggling with his role. He hasn’t looked comfortable on the ball like he did against Costa Rica. Hopefully with a little more confidence he will be terror on the wing.
Gaven will again fill in on the other wing. After some initial struggles, he has quietly had one of the most consistent years ever. He may not be the National Team mainstay that people may have expected when he burst on to the scene at 16, but he is a dangerous offensive force that can play anywhere in the midfield and even fill in at striker. Columbus will have to rely on the strikers and midfield as Marshall is still sidelined. His towering presence on set pieces has clearly been missed.
Crew on Defense: The defense has been solid all year no matter who lines up. Marshall is still out, but O’Rourke, Brunner, and Iro have been solid when they have been called upon. I expect to see O’Rourke and Brunner in the center of the defense. It’s hard to beat a combination of the steady Brunner who gets to all high balls and the speedy O’Rourke who can cover for a miscue.
Hejduk and Padula add veteran savvy to the outside back positions with Jed Zayner as a revelation this year. The Crew can be comfortable with any of these players on the field. Each can add something on offense with overlapping runs and dangerous crosses.
The other unsung part of the defense has been the more defensive pairing in central midfield. Carroll has played injured for most of the year, but has had cover in the form of O’Rourke, Moffat, and Burns paired with him. It has probably hurt the offense, but Burns especially has been a pleasant surprise.
Final Thoughts: After the awful winless start, it’s hard to believe that the Crew can wrap up the Supporter Shield. Their form hasn’t been outstanding, but they have been able to grind out a loss into a tie and a tie into a win. I have to think they will take advantage of a United team in shambles to get closer to wrapping up the Shield.
Crew 2 – United 0