Monday, August 24, 2009

8/24/09: Match 2 CONCACAF- Columbus Crew vs. Cruz Azul Match Preview

In last weeks Group C opening action, The Columbus Crew took care of the Puerto Rico Islanders by a scoreline of 2-0, that could of easily have been 4-0 or 5-0 at home. Cruz Azul did much of the same, also winning by a scoreline of 2-0 at home against Saprissa, when the score could of easily have been 4-0 or 5-0 as well. These results (although at home) could be vindictive of who in the Group of Death will be battling it out come the end of September for top spot in Group C.

These results also set up a crucial fixture this Wednesday when a rested Columbus(10-3-9, first place in their league) head down to an unrested Cruz Azul(2-3-0, 11th place in their league). Cruz Azul are on three days rest after losing to Club America 3-2 on Saturday in their classico derby, while the Crew will be on eight days rest:

This game turnover for Cruz Azul would be akin to the Crew playing Cruz Azul a couple of days after a game against Chicago or Toronto, with the Crew playing their full starting lineup against their rival and adding on about 80 more years of rival history in the process. So, one advantage for the Crew is that Azul's latest loss probably isn't out of the cement workers heads.

Here's a good video from Saturday on the rivalry between Club America and Cruz Azul. Here's a full write up on the game.

Also, the Columbus Crew are not New England or DC United from the previous year in this tournament. There coming into this tournament looking to win it. There coming into Cruz Azul not looking to bunker, but looking to win. Forward Jason Garey outlines this in comments to Craig Merz, "Our goal is to be sitting at six points (in the Champions League) going into a little bit of a break. We've got New York then a few days off to recuperate as a team then get ready for the stretch in the fall. We're getting five or six days off to get away from soccer and come back rested and recharged. We'll be full strength, ready to go." So, if Cruz Azul thinks that the Crew will play a bunker ball game in Mexico like Puerto Rico did in Columbus, Cruz Azul will be sorely mistaken. The Crew need to go out with all guns blazing in Mexico, this is the only way to win down there and Warzycha understands this.

Overall, the Crew have the depth as a team to go all the way. Everyone is healthy and adding Emilio Renteria(and possibly another player) surely doesn't hurt. The Crew are happy with their performance last week against Puerto Rico and believe that they can build on it at Cruz Azul. As O'Rourke tells Crew writer Steve Sirk, "It's a huge start. Not only was it the first game, but it's a home game. Any time you play a team from a lower division it is difficult because they are going to play that much harder. We know it's not going to get any easier with Saprissa and Cruz Azul." It won't be easier at Cruz Azul. But, the Crew has had all week to prepare for the matchup, while Cruz Azul has spent half of their week preparing for Club America and half of their week getting over their loss against Club America.

Cruz Azul may also just overlook the best squad to come out of MLS in years in my opinion.

Prediction: Crew win 2-1 off of a goal by Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the first half. Then Emilio Renteria receives his P-1 visa on Tuesday, just in time to boom one upper 90 in the 87th minute to give the Crew the 2-1 victory in Mexico City.


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