Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/15/09: Saprissa Preview- Warzycha Managing His Player's Time. Schedule Not So Bad After This Week

Venezuelan international Alejandro Moreno's time will be managed on Wednesday. Expect either his Venezuelan international counterpart Emilio Renteria or Steven Lenhart to replace him in CONCACAF duty (Picture by AP).

Different Striker Looks For CONCACAF and Regular Season Games
According to Mitchell and Merz, after going 77 minutes for Venezuela last Wednesday and 90 minutes for Columbus on Sunday Alejandro Moreno will receive a well deserved break and will not travel to Costa Rica. The only other player not slated to make the trip to Costa Rica is left back Gino Padula. Gino spent all of Saturday night in the hospital and even though he was ill during Sunday's game played amazingly well. Both Moreno and Padula will stay back and focus on getting ready for next Sunday's matchup against second place Chicago.

So who will replace Alejandro Moreno? Well, possibly not Emilio Renteria whose stock continues to plummet the longer he has been with the Crew. Renteria, who didn't even break the top 18 on Sunday, may or may not make the trip depending upon whether he gets international clearance to play from CONCACAF. Nevertheless, this international clearance hoopla may just be a clever rouse from Warzycha because Emilio was nearly cleared to play in Mexico against Cruz Azul and that was just about three weeks ago. So, how could Emilio not be cleared to play in Saprissa? The only way Emilio is not cleared is if the director of paperwork at Crew Stadium dropped the ball big time.

That's a huge level of incompetence that even the Crew front office couldn't accomplish through oversight. Therefore, I have a slight suspicion that Renteria was kept completely out of Sunday's roster with the intentions of having Renteria take over Wednesday's duties when Moreno takes a break.

That would make sense. Tell Moreno, "hey I'm going to use you for our regular season games during this stretch" and tell Renteria, "hey I'm going to use you during Champions League during this stretch." That's what managers do, manage players to keep them fresh and Warzycha will be tested on this in September. Or maybe Renteria was a horrible acquistion and the Crew are hiding him with some international clearance bullocks so they don't have to play him. Who knows.

Anyways, if Renteria does stay back home for whatever reason, I would expect Lenhart(who looked lively during his 10-15 on Sunday) to get the start.

Frankie Hejduk who loves to soak up a good atmosphere, is probably not sad about his yellow card accumulation which guarentees the veteran playing a 90 minute role in Wednesday's game at atmosphere charged Saprissa (Pic by Sam Fahmi).

Expect Other Players To Start Based On Their Circumstance
Usually when players get a red card it's a punishment and they have to sit out for a game. But, some Crew players may have been intentionally uncareful last Sunday to solidfy their chance of playing in one of the best atmospheres in North American soccer, at Saprissa on Wednesday. On Sunday, Frankie Hejduk got his fifth yellow and Adam Moffat got a red card. But, basically all this meant for them is that they picked the game they wanted to participate in this week as the punishments do not count against international games. And, since Warzycha cannot use either in Chicago on Sunday, Warzycha is forced to play both a full 90 minutes on Wednesday.

Therefore, I could almost guarentee Frankie Hejduk and Adam Moffat starting. If Frankie Hejduk didn't get his fifth yellow this past Sunday, I could almost guarentee that he would have sat out the turf at Saprissa and played on Sunday away at Chicago.

Guillermo was a hero in international tournaments for Boca Juniors, now he must step up and do the same for Columbus.

Guillermo to go to Saprissa
With 42 points compared to the 39 points of Chicago, with two games in hand, the Crew are in the driver's seat over their conference rivals and Saprissa now takes precedence. Therefore, Warzycha will likely rely on Guillermo's veteran leadership in Saprissa and play a weaker lineup without Guillermo in Chicago. However, the question is will Guillermo show up? Ever since Guillermo has come off his mid-Summer injury it hasn't been the same GBS. The Crew will need the old Guillermo on Wednesday to have any chance in Costa Rica.

Will Guillermo show up? Who knows. But, playing Guillermo and other starters is smart, the chances of eeking out a tie in Saprissa with a weaker lineup is zero, the chances of eeking out a win or a tie against a struggling Chicago with a weaker lineup but away support is about 50% percent. So, if the Crew tie in Chicago with a weaker lineup then they are at 43 points compared to Chicago's 40. If the Crew tie at Saprissa with their strongest lineup(minus Moreno and Padula) they will be tied with Saprissa in Group 2 with 4 points, with a home game against Saprissa in hand.

I'm going to be the rational realist and be rooting for two ties this weekend. If we can get the wins great, but I'm not going to have my head in the clouds expecting them. The Crew would be in a great stituation both in MLS and CONCACAF if they were to be tied at 4 points with Saprissa at the end of the week and at 43 points compared to Chicago's 40 at the end of this week.

Even with a tie at Saprissa and a loss at Chicago the Crew would be in great shape. The Crew would be tied for second in Concacaf and tied for first in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. I just hope the Crew are thinking the same way.

The Nordecke and the home crowd should be a huge boost for the Crew with the last four games of the September stretch at home where the Crew is undefeated since June 2008 (Pic by Sam Fahmi).

Get The Ties On The Road This Week, Schedule Isn't So Bad After That
When first looking at the next six games in the next 21 days, I was thinking "geez, this is going to be a nearly impossible stretch." But, looking at it now I think it's a magnificient challenge for the Crew. Look at it this way:

1.) 2 away games in 7 days.
2.) followed up by 4 home games in 14 days

If the Crew can hold tough on defense and get a pair of ties this week they will be in magnificient shape going into four straight home games in 14 days. The Crew have enough depth to balance their team over that two week home span. Also, the Crew don't have to deal with the usual fixture congestion travel over those two weeks.

Basically, after Sunday the Crew relax at home, where they are comfortable and by the way undefeated. They practice light and don't travel at all, while their opponents fly in from Mexico City, Los Angeles, Costa Rica, and Seattle. Columbus Crew Stadium is the Crew's Den of Death, no other team has won here since June of 2008 and just because we are playing some team with international prestige that shouldn't change. The Crew need to survive on the road this week and then come home and slay some big time opponents and make a statement going into October.

How I See Or At Least Hope The Next 17 Days Play Out

Away- 09/16 - Wednesday vs. Saprissa 10:00 p.m. 1-1 tie
Away- 09/20 - Sunday vs. Chicago Fire 3:00 p.m. 0-0 tie
Home- 09/23 - Wednesday vs. Cruz Azul 8:00 p.m. 2-1 win
Home- 09/26 - Saturday vs. Los Angeles Galaxy 7:30 p.m. 3-2 win
Home- 09/29 - Tuesday vs. Saprissa 8:00 p.m. 2-0 win
Home- 10/03 - Saturday vs. Seattle Sounders FC 7:30 p.m. 1-0 win

Projected Lineup vs. Saprissa:
GK: Hesmer
DR: Hejduk
DC: Marshall
DC: Brunner
DL: O'Rourke
RM: Gaven
DM: Carroll
CM: Moffat
LM: Rogers
AM/ST: Schelotto
ST: Renteria or Lenhart

Schelotto atone's for his recent form, scores a magical goal on the road as the Crew escape the dragon's den with a point. Crew tie 1-1.


  1. Uh, correction.... Brunner got red carded last game, remember?

  2. Yeah I was sort of trying to forget last game and since I only watched the highlights with one eye open after getting off of work. I must of forgot.

    How dare I? It's not like Brunner or no Brunner is going to dramatically shake up our game plan.

  3. You're kidding right? I believe Zayner is still hurt, so he won't play (he, like Renteria, was not on the bench Sunday). O'Rourke can't fill in for both Brunners and Padula. I know we have Iro, and chances are he gets the nod, but I don't feel overly comfortable using him still. Too inconsitent.

  4. Marshall and Heyduk are staying home too--injury and rest...

    We have no defense (Padula and Brunner are out, as we all know).

  5. I propose this lineup

    GK: Hesmer
    LB: Iro
    CB: O'Rourke
    RB: Oughton
    LDM: Carroll
    RDM: Moffat
    LM: Rogers
    RM: Ekpo
    CAM: Schelotto
    RF: Lenhart
    LF: Renteria, if he can play, but I have no problem playing Garey

    There game plan has to be defend as a unit in the back, allow Schelotto to sit in the middle of the field, and have Rogers and Ekpo speed up that sideline and catch Saprissa on a counter. Those two better be ready to run!

  6. On second though, maybe Gaven at CAM might be better. He can help on defense when he needs to, put Schelotto up top for Garey/Renteria.