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Crew-RSL Countdown

With kickoff of the Columbus-Real Salt Lake playoff match a few hours away, a few items to share.....

*Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno have been told by Coach Robert Warzycha that they will start tonight after sitting out for tactical reasons in the first leg last weekend. One contact told me that Schelotto, the 2008 MLS most valuable player, was "upset and disappointed" about being held out, but after meeting with Warzycha early this week, the matter was quickly resolved and the Argentine is focused on helping the defending champions overcome a one-goal deficit in the total-goals series.

I'm also hearing that Emmanuel Ekpo will start in place of Robbie Rogers. In the opener, Ekpo replaced Rogers in the 85th minute.

*The Crew's Chad Marshall was named MLS defender of the year for the second straight season, the first repeat winner since Carlos Bocanegra at Chicago in 2002-03. Marshall beat out Seattle's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Houston's Geoff Cameron despite missing 12 of 30 regular season matches because of injuries, a red card and U.S. national team duty.

Alex Prus was honored as the top referee for the first time.

*With a one-goal lead, how will RSL approach the second leg? "We're going to go in and defend like crazy," veteran Clint Mathis said in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. "We go through no matter if we score or not, so that's what we've got to focus on."

We'll see about that tactic. I figure RSL to attack aggressively at the start in pursuit of a killer second goal and then settle back and defend the lead in hopes of reversing its notoriously bad form on the road (2-11-2, nine goals). The wins came at Los Angeles and Kansas City, the draws at D.C. and Houston.

TV coverage on ESPN2 begins at 8 p.m. ET.

By Steve Goff  |  November 5, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: Friday Kickaround

Comments

"Alex Prus was honored as the top referee for the first time."

This award should not even be given out. All refs in MLS are awful!

Posted by: no_recess | November 5, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Guillermo Barros Schelotto... can't we just call him "G"?

Posted by: joedoc1 | November 5, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

RSL shouldn't try to bunker down. It doesn't fit their midfield, and their forwards don't pressure intelligently or diligently enough. It's a bad fit for them. Playing more cautiously is one thing, but parking the bus would just invite trouble. RSL's approach should be based on keeping the field narrow, being smart in possession (avoiding needless risks, but also avoiding being totally risk-averse), and of course looking to play their forwards through both over the top and on the ground.

Columbus is doing the right thing by bringing back Schelotto. Lenhart and Moreno both irritate defenders in their own way, and each is a reasonable goal threat. Lenhart is probably the more effective sub, though, so I can see the logic in starting Moreno for this game. Schelotto over Renteria, however, is a no-brainer tonight (as it was in the away leg).

My guess is that this should be the best game of the first round. They could all be good, but for whatever reason I see this one being full of chances, drama, and generally remarkable happenings.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The best defense is a good offense. We all see how a bunker defensive strategy tends to not work fully as planned. Maybe Clint's tongue is in his cheek and he's referencing Payne's "spot on" analysis of the way some teams play?

Posted by: DrBeaker | November 5, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

What is the line on Crew Stadium being more than half full?

Posted by: Ron16 | November 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Crazy game going for Villarreal...

Posted by: Reignking | November 5, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Rumor is the Nordecke sold out for this game earlier today, so the northeast corner of the stadium should at least look good. As for the rest of Crew Stadium, the 8:30pm kickoff probably does as much harm as good with regard to attendance...more time to get from work to the game, but it is a school night for most of the younger crowd.

Posted by: FCRoleModel83 | November 5, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

joedoc -

Watch your tongue or suffer it's removal as a consequence of the wrath of Bretos and Sullivan, it's "Gee'zheh" not G.

Posted by: Kosh2 | November 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there will be more people at tonight's game than at the NE game over the weekend. I know, I know. That's a bold prediction! I think the game tonight will actually be well attended. Not sold out, but still very solid.

Posted by: nairbsod | November 5, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

THE WAIT IS KILLING ME

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | November 5, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

crew 1-0 rsl

crew on pk's

Posted by: Norteno4life | November 5, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Damnaed shame if Rogers does not start. Crew coachings has been bizzare to say the least. You would want your best players on the picth and not be cute with the line up.

Posted by: TomR143 | November 5, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Will I be able to watch on ESPN360? Not totally familiar as I just started getting it recently. What's the dilly yo?

Posted by: DadRyan | November 5, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Crew will win 2-0 with goals from Rogers and Moreno, both assisted by GBS

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | November 5, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

looks like a really nice and energetic crowd in Columbus tonight. let's keep it clean and come out swinging!

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

This isn't a bad game. Goal was the absolute definition of soft. MLS defending!

Posted by: Kev29 | November 5, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

wow, unbelievably lucky goal for Schelotto. not the most technically beautiful game so far, but no bunkering, plentiful chances, and every run, bounce and tackle takes on added importance now.

also, definitely a "let 'em play" attitude from the ref so far. lots of hard tackles, late slides and guys getting knocked over. we'll see how that plays out.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

wow, this game is just tons of fun. suspect defending and goalkeeping, but the opposite of the stodgy play Payne and others here have been complaining about.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Very nice Salt Lake goal! In spite of the wonky defending, this has been a good advert for the league. Exciting

Posted by: Kev29 | November 5, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

2-2 at the half...open and entertaining play so far.

Posted by: davemcl | November 5, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

tough call, but i think Hejduk was more upset with himself, as it looked worthy of a foul call. what an impropable comeback by RSL. 2-2 at the half.

with Columbus playing up the wings so much, you have to figure they bring Rogers on by the hour mark if not before. not sure if Kreis will be in a hurry to bring Movsisyan on unless they need a goal.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

What a game!! Tied at 2s at the half. RSL with meaningful possession. CBus playing timidly on D, but also plenty nasty on the attack. This is a great game!

Posted by: Kosh2 | November 5, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see that late PK call on Hejduk. Serves him right for grabbing Spindola like that. Plus I'm sitll upset w Heydude for his embellishmemnt on that PK he earned off Brandon Prideaux a few years back.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | November 5, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember RSL playing possession so well, they always came off as bunker first, counter second team to me. Hmmm, it's a pleasant surprise.

Also since whendoes CBus play so timidly on D - all that space they are giving RSL in the defensive 3rd. Surprising, but not so sure how I feel about that.

2-2.

Posted by: Kosh2 | November 5, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

142 days until United's first 2010 league match!

Posted by: Curious99 | November 5, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

wow, RSL gets one that was startlingly similar to Schelotto's first goal. can't blame them for bunkering now.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

didn't know Movsisyan was headed to Denmark after the season. that's too bad.

Moreno makes it hard to think it's anything but a dive when he goes down. he's been mostly neutralized tonight.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno have been told by Coach Robert Warzycha that they will start tonight after sitting out for tactical reasons in the first leg last weekend"

What's next? Subs before the 45th minute? This guy had all the tactical acumen of our dearly departed TS. It's working out well, down 4-2 on agg.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | November 5, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Lenhart has been terrible since coming on.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 5, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to RSL. Didn't see that coming before this round started. I like being surprised.

Hope GBS is back next year.

Stoked for Andy Wiliams making a dent tonight. I've heard things are looking up in his corner, but every little bit of happiness has got to go a long way in his household, and I'm happy to see things tilt that way.

Excited to watch a little MLS on Sunday. Minimally excited...;-)

Posted by: DadRyan | November 5, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Just saw them use paint of some sort to mark off the 10 yards on a free kick in the America/PUmas game. Do they do that league wide in Mexico now?

Posted by: DadRyan | November 5, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

glad to see RSL get the win. Hopefully it'll be an all west final. Seattle-RSL, that'll be swell.
I'm happy with any of the teams winning the MLS cup now, so long as those teams aren't Chicago, Chivas, LA, or New England. The dynamo wouldn't be tragic if they won, but I'd prefer the sounders or the mormons

Posted by: douglasquaid | November 5, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Just saw them use paint of some sort to mark off the 10 yards on a free kick in the America/PUmas game. Do they do that league wide in Mexico now?

Posted by: DadRyan | November 5, 2009 11:19 PM
*************************

Yes, they do.

Good win by RSL tonight. Harkes and DellaCamera were a bit distracted when Rimando made that great reaction save on Garey's header from Rogers cross in about the 85'. To me, that was the play of the the game (although Columbus still woulda needed another one to send it to extra time).

My worst MLS fear now is that dour New England will find a way to the final.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | November 5, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Im glad for RSL, specifically Rimando.

Posted by: FatSickBoot | November 5, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Kev29:

"MLS defending!" was the rare internet comment that made me actually laugh aloud. Well done.

Joel_M_Lane:

Love the long-held grudge. As for the penalty against Hejduk, I have absolutely no sympathy for him. It's an obvious, easy call, and really just an inexcusable mental lapse. That is avoided by a couple shuffle-steps to the left before the kick.

Kosh2:

They've bunkered against us a couple of times, but this was more representative of their approach. I mean, their wide midfielders are a natural playmaker (Williams) and a natural forward (Johnson, who plays up top for Canada). Beckerman, in Colorado, was the more attacking player in a dual holding system with Mastroeni. Lagerwey and Kreis have built a team to attack first and ask questions later. It's actually why I expected this to be a good game. Columbus had to go for it, and RSL doesn't have parking the bus in their collective DNA.

***

RSL played like the team they are on paper tonight. RSL approaches the game similarly to us, except we don't have anyone as good as Morales nor anyone as fast as their forwards. It's a credit to them to shake off their inconsistency, their season-long road troubles (really, a problem they've had throughout their existence), and a 2-0 lead in Columbus in front of a fired up crowd. I liked their possession play, but even more important tonight was that they showed that they're made of really stern stuff.

Warzycha raised a lot of questions about his decision to bench Schelotto, and in the second leg he brought up just as big a question by benching Rogers. Gaven and Ekpo are good players, and Gaven has been in form this year, but let's be realistic. This was a silly decision from Warzycha, who may have revealed real flaws over these two legs by a) not trusting his big players in big games and b) overthinking things in his office or at a whiteboard and forgetting that the game takes place on a field with real players. Strategy is only so important in soccer. Coaches that forget that do it at their own peril.

From a neutral perspective, this went ideally. Columbus paid the price for a craven approach to the first leg, the game had goals and drama, and there was some attractive stuff out there (after the first half hour, anyway).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 6, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully a lot of casual sports fans flipped over to the match last night from the dreadful VT game...

I'm definitely happy to see RSL advance, but at the same time, it's kind of a shame for the Crew to have their coach cost them a chance at repeating as Cup champions.

Still hoping for RSL over LAG in the final. It would be great for the league to have Donovan/Beckham in the Final, but I want to see Beckerman, Rimando, Lagerway, and company win the title. That would also be a nice entertaining final to watch with two attacking teams.

Posted by: DCUMD | November 6, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Last year, NY were the Western Division winners. This year, RSL may be the Eastern Division winners. This distortion of geography must stop.

Of course, it does show that MLS is better aligning itself with FIFA practices, under which Australia is in Asia, Israel is in Europe, and Guyana is not in South America.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 6, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

anybody see that byu / new mexico women's soccer clip? lol.

Posted by: stairs | November 6, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Last year, NY were the Western Division winners. This year, RSL may be the Eastern Division winners. This distortion of geography must stop.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 6, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

really! this is ridiculous. if you are going to have divisions, then have 4 teams from each division. if you want the top 8 teams, then have a single table. the crew definitely got "DC'd". regular season champ, then one-and-done. there needs to be more of a reward for finishing top overall. the top 2 seeds should get a bye into the conference championships.

Posted by: birdynumnum | November 6, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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