Wednesday, August 26, 2009

8/26/09: Renteria Won't Make Trip, Garber Says If Any MLS Team Was To Win In Mexico It Would Be Columbus

Guillermo Barros Schelotto in front of the most important of the three trophies the Crew won in 2008. Cruz Azul hasn't won an important trophy, be it their league or Champions League since 1997 (Pic by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images).

The Crew's new signing, Venezuelan international Emilio Renteria, will not make the trip to Mexico. The Crew didn't receive Emilio's work permit hard copy as of Tuesday morning, meaning Renteria would have been stuck in Mexico if "the deer" would have made the trip. Nevertheless, Renteria should be available this Sunday away from home at Red Bull New York. The Red Bulls home, Giants Stadium, is a confine that Renteria has familiarity with, playing for Venezuela there on August 12th against Colombia. Another Crew player who will not make the trip is rookie Alex Grendi. Grendi is still suffering from injury and will also stay back in Columbus and join CrewXtra Wednesday night before the game.

Other then Renteria and Grendi, the entire rest of the roster(21 players) will be making the trip to Mexico. Many expect veterans Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk, both fresh off of injury, to start against Cruz Azul as their leadership will be instrumental in getting a result.

As Shawn Mitchell points out, none of the Crew players are confident enough to call out a victory. The players know that no matter Cruz Azul's standing in Mexico, no matter who Cruz Azul puts on the field, and no matter how dismal the crowd is on Wednesday night that the Crew are still playing in the altitude of Mexico City. Further, the history of American teams in Mexico surely doesn't tip in the Crew's favor as well, as U.S. national and MLS teams are a combined 1-38-2 in Mexico. In reality, it should just be 0-38-2 as the one "win" came from a forfeit in 2001 by Chivas Guadlajara.

Yet it's doubtful that previous statistics mean anything to the Crew, they still play 90 minutes for a reason and anything can happen in 90 minutes, especially when the Crew are a quality side.

MLS commissioner Don Garber is hopeful for a Crew win in Mexico, "If any team can do it, the Crew probably is that team. The Crew is a very strong club on the field. They've proved that with their record so far this year. This is an important tournament and I believe (the Crew) is taking it very seriously."

In fact, they are, as General Manager Mark McCullers said the club's goal is to win the tournament and make it to the FIFA World Club Cup.

In the other locker room, it's yet to be seen how serious Cruz Azul takes this game. In their first CONCACAF game at home against Saprissa, Cruz Azul played their entire second team and snuck away with a 2-0 result. If Cruz Azul plays their second team against Columbus, I can almost guarentee that the cement makers won't have similiar luck. But, the second team might be what the Crew gets as Cruz Azul's entire first team played in an exhausting derby game against Club America on Saturday. If Cruz Azul marches out the reserves, the Crew will definitely win.

Further, Cruz Azul admitted that their side doesn't know a lot about Columbus, and because of this I believe that Cruz Azul will likely put out their second team with the rationale, "it's just another weak MLS team that does badly in this tournament." If Cruz Azul puts their second team out for Saprissa, I can see them doing it again for Columbus. And, if Cruz Azul does, they will learn a lot about Columbus come the end of 90 tonight. Players like Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Robbie Rogers will punish reserves and the Crew will win.


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