Thursday, March 5, 2009

3/5/09: Encouraging Signs From England Show That The Poised Defending Champions Are Ready

Scoring from the run of play is a great sign for Schelotto and the Crew. (Pic by: ISIphotos)

The England trip closes up shop with the Crew allowing just one goal while netting seven against the Reserve sides of two of the top clubs in England, Liverpool and Everton. In a Craig Merz article from last week entitled "Rogers Hoping to Deliver Encore", Crew captain Frankie Hejduk stated that the 2008 preseason trip to Blackburn Rovers soldified the team. Frankie and the rest of the club were hoping for a similiar focus to be achieved this week for the 2009 season. "This is the point last year when we made the turnaround in terms of really getting together as a team when we went to England," he said. "We had a couple of good games. All the guys played really hard and really well. We started believing in ourselves."

The Crew this week, no matter the level of quality of the Reserves they faced, had two excellent games and seemingly achieved the goals of their trip. The three team building goals for this trip had to be: 1.) rebuilding confidence (the Crew already have confidence but with the holidays and the offseason, their "I got this every week" mentality starts to wear a bit more thin. 7 goals for and 1 against will bring it back, especially against English competition), 2.) Get the leaders stepping up early (great signs to see Marshall, Guillermo, and Alejandro succeeding this early), 3.) Build back that eletric chemistry through team bonding on and off the field. I can guarentee a few players have made a comment about team bonding in England and it makes sense as it has to be a blast catching some EPL games with your teammates.

Additionally, from this trip, the Crew fans can take some great solace in some encouraging signs. One is that Schelotto's goal today against the Liverpool Reserves was from the run of play. Out of GBS's seven goals in 2008, only one came from the run of play and it was probably the most excited I have ever seen Schelotto (starting at 3:15).

It's not often that you see Schelotto jumping around or hugging anyone. Schelotto rarely does more then a couple high fives while having a "strong, silent type" reaction after his usual penalty kick or set piece goal. The truth is Schelotto gets amped nowadays when he scores from the run of play. It proves he can still do some of this:

Guillermo had a phenomonal year in 2008 with 19 assists and 7 goals, and it was a straight up joy witnessing it. But, I can bet that's not good enough for Guillermo. I can bet that circled near the top of his calendar is to prove he still has some giddy in his step by scoring a couple more goals from the run of play this season. So far, Guille is off to a heck of a start.

Another encouraging sign is that Marshall, despite having to drop out of National team camp in January because of some discomfort in his knee, seems fine and more then ready to go. Also, seems that Marshall can even jump higher. Time to sign Chad up for a slam dunk contest:

I'm going to bet that Schelotto's heat seeking missiles to Marshall's head to the net will account for at least 5 goals this year, if not more. It's like these two don't even break a sweat in the process:

Marshall's 1st goal vs. Everton FC reserves on 3/1/09 from CrewCommunications on Vimeo

Marshall's 2nd goal vs. Everton FC reserves on 3/1/09 from CrewCommunications on Vimeo.

Then yet another encouraging sign is that Alejandro Moreno seems full of energy and ready to go at it in 2009, especially from this brillant exerpt from a brillant write up today from LiverpoolFC.TV:
Good play down the left between Gino Padula and Rogers saw the latter send over a devilish cross that fell kindly for Schelotto on the edge of the home side's penalty area. The Argentine composed himself before unleashing a low shot that Bouzanis could only parry straight to Moreno who gleefully slotted home the rebound.

The Venezuelan had been on the end of most of The Crew's best moves and he should have doubled their advantage two minutes later but he shot straight at Bouzanis after finding space on the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Alejandro Moreno had a great season last year with 10 goals overall, going down as one of his best since becoming a MLS player and earning him a spot back in the starting 11 for Venezuela. However, still, a few Crew fans moan about how we need a 20 goals a year type scorer with more pace. I say in English trip form "bullocks." Could someone tell me how that has worked out for LA with Donovan and Buddle? The fact is Moreno is a work horse and he gets it done. When the Crew has a midfield with Gaven, Schelotto, Rogers, Ekpo, all who have the ability to get 5-10 goals a piece, you need a guy who can keep fighting and score some "rebound" and other type goals around the net, but you also need a guy that can hold the ball up and involve the midfielders in the attack. That's Alejandro Moreno Football 101 right there. And, its success has led to a championship ring for Moreno, while players like Stern John and Brian McBride were ringless during their successful tenures with the Crew.

With all the success of the England trip and with no new injuries to report, there still is one less encouraging story. Warzycha told the Dispatch that he was not planning to play Adam Moffat until England because he didn't want to risk an injury to Moffat early in the preseason against lesser sides; however, Moffat didn't see any playing time against Everton or Liverpool during the trip. It seems that Moffat's injury is taking more time to properly heel itself. With only one game left before March 21st and preseason chemistry in full effect between the midfield regulars and now Ekpo, one has to wonder if Moffat will be the man for opening day? If I was a betting man it's going to be Ekpo.

Moffat should get better soon enough and other then that, the Crew and it's nation has to be more confident then ever that 2009 will be a very positive season as well.


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