Friday, July 23, 2010

7/23/2010: Preview- Crew Face Struggling Houston, Try To Rack Up Vital Points At Home

Dancing-dancing-dancing!: Emilio Renteria will get the opportunity to do more dancing with his second start up top in a row. Can Renteria put together a chain of two goals in two games?

Houston are not the same Houston (5-7-4, 19 points) that everyone is used to, while the Columbus Crew (9-3-4, 31 points) are where they have been at this time of the year since 2008. Currently, the Crew hold first place in the East and find themselves still in the hunt for The Supporters Shield.

While the Crew have had their strongest league play statistically in the win column since 2004, the Dynamo have been weak in league play with three losses and two ties in their last five MLS outings. Nevertheless, Houston's form may have a lot to do with the Dynamo's focus being all over the place; as the Dynamo have played two meaningless friendlies against the Laredo Heat and Aguila, followed up by finding themselves in the middle of Superliga group play.

Nevertheless, Houston won their group in Superliga play beating both Pachuca and Puebla. But, that could have a lot to do with Mexican teams fielding weaker sides. Or it could do with the fact that Houston is improving.

Ebb & Flow

Former Ajax talent Anthony Obadai has joined the Houston Dynamo from Dutch side RKC Waalwijk (after RKC's firesale from being relegated) to hopefully bolster the Dynamo squad. The Dynamo unsurprisingly dropped Mexican phenom Luis Angel Landin to make room for Obadai; as Landin came as a big name designated player and left with only two goals in 16 games for the Dynamo.

If heads or tails can be taken from the Dynamo's Superliga form, as well as battling the Crew and Toronto FC for ties before Superliga play, then the exchange has been a success for Houston.

The Return of Jo-Jo

Ngwenya had some bright moments in some dark days for the Crew in 2006-2007

While Houston's midfield has been bolstered by Obadai, their punchless attack has been bolstered by the return of Joseph Ngwenya (a former Dynamo and Crew player). Ngwenya has an interesting stat with both of his last two previous MLS clubs, as Joseph has 25 appearances for both Columbus and Houston before heading overseas. Ngwenya seems to have learned something with some time at Bayern Munich and Turkish side Antalyaspor, as the 29 year old has 3 goals in 6 appearances this year for the Dynamo. His introduction up top with Ching, whose getting back to full health, has the Dynamo regaining confidence; especially when one factors in the Dynamo's Superliga form.

Columbus should ride Renteria the rest of the way up top

What Crew fans have been saying for most of the 2010 season is "Emilio Renteria should be starting up top." Finally, it appears that Robert Warzycha has caught on that Renteria has better technical abilities compared to Lenhart and Garey... Well, better everything abilities, Renteria is just a bull with surprisingly good foot skills, a nice shot, and better than decent speed.

We all love Lenhart and Garey. But, especially with Lenhart, it comes to the point of playing favorites over who should be playing. And there is no doubt, barring some fantastic striker capture (I'm talking about someone way better than Stern John), that Renteria should be the man in front of Schelotto.

Not to the right of midfield.. Not to the left.. Not off the bench. Up top from the start.

LINEUP: Keep With What Works

The lineup against the Kansas City Wizards didn't work. The lineup against the New York Red Bulls did work. So for the love of god, do not revert back to what hasn't worked. For one, keep Rogers on the bench, Ekpo over Rogers at this point. Ekpo may not be as talented in some people's eyes, but he's better on the field then Rogers right now; As Rogers mind seems to be elsewhere. For two, what we said before, keep Renteria on from the start.. How hard is it to screw that up when the guy plays lights out weekly? For three, enter Shaun Francis over Andy Iro and have Zayner replace the red carded Frankie Hejduk. Since Carroll (right-ankle sprain) is out as well, let's give Duka a run out to see what he has.

Crew Projected Lineup-

Houston Projected Lineup-

Thank you San Jose:

With two goals by a motivated San Jose at the HDC last night the Earthquakes were able to lock the always winning Galaxy to a 2-2 tie result. Therefore, with a win tomorrow the Crew will be 10-3-4 on 34 points with one game in hand on the Galaxy, who have 40 points from 18 games.

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