Tuesday, August 18, 2009

8/18/09: Matchday 1 of CONCACAF- Columbus Crew vs. Puerto Rico

Guillermo Barros Schelotto(left) and Noah Delgado(right) lead their sides into Champions League tonight.

The Columbus Crew come into this contest winning their last five and are on top of the overall MLS standings with the Houston Dynamo at 39 points. Puerto Rico was once in a logjam this season at the top of the USL-1 standings but lately have fallen behind league leaders Portland(48 points) and two other teams(Charleston-44 and Carolina-43). Puerto Rico(41 points) could still catch Portland but that seems unlikely, Puerto Rico's main focus has to be the Champions League.

The Crew on the other hand look destined to once again take all the important hardware in MLS this season, well in the thick of things for the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup. The Massive club's 5 game winning streak allows them to focus on Champions League more. If the Crew would have won 2 instead, they probably wouldn't focus as many resources on the Champions League.

But, with just Chicago hanging around at 35 points compared to the Crew's 39. And, Toronto FC 9 points back and DC United 11, the Crew can multi-task a bit.

Tonight's Lineup:
GK: Hesmer
RB: Zayner
CB: Marshall
CB: Brunner
LB: Padula
DM: O'Rourke
RM: Ekpo
CM: Moffat
LM: Rogers
AM/ST: Schelotto
ST: Moreno

TODAY'S QUOTEABLE from Shawn Mitchell's "Crew Dual Schedule Begins":
Only twice since 1962 have American teams won the regional soccer tournament for professional clubs: D.C. United in 1998 and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000.

"That's not a good thing," Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer said. "If Major League Soccer wants to make its claim as a better league, then we need to start winning these things."

Expectations: Expect a bunker type game by the Puerto Rico Islanders, they play a 4-5-1 type of format on the road in this competition. Defend. Defend. Defend. And, then pray for a goal.

Warzycha say on the Islanders style:
"Like the game in Toronto they are going to try and bunker in and get the best result. Maybe they get lucky and get a set piece goal. We have to create enough chances. We have to make them chase the ball. We have to patient. It would be nice to score early then they would have to open up a bit."

Prediction: The Columbus Crew are not Toronto FC, that can be seen by our 9 point lead on the Hosers in the standings and the fact that their squad has never beat ours. Also, Toronto FC had their chances to get through, they were not dominated at all by Puerto Rico. Toronto FC hit the post twice in Puerto Rico and outshot the Islanders in both games.

Further, at home the Crew are better than Toronto FC or just about any MLS team, the 20 game winning streak speaks for itself. The Crew want this and want to give MLS an accurate representation in international play. Someone has to step up. The Crew also is a more focused team and will be too much for the Islanders at Crew Stadium.

Score: Crew 3 - Puerto Rico 0, goals by Ekpo, Rogers, and Moreno


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