Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Church of Jason Kreis And Later Day Taint

The Crew look to bounce back from two disappointing 1-1 ties to start the season with an away win Thursday over Real Salt Lake, a team with a history of mostly disappointing results, with fans so fervent they go door to door to gain converts.

RSL have not started the 2009 season in style, losing their opener away 2-0 last week to Sigi Schmid’s expansion Seattle Sounders. RSL looked particularly weak in the midfield on transitions and on the back four.

Columbus leads the series 5-2-1 since RSL’s inception in 2005. The Crew split the results last year, losing 2-0 at Salt Lake on July 12, then winning 3-0 at home in dominating fashion on Aug. 23 on goals by Chad Marshall (header), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (header), and Brad Evans (header).

RSL’s best season since their founding was last year when they made it to the semi-finals of the playoffs before being eliminated by New York Red Bulls 1-0. This was the only year they made the play-offs.

This will be the Crew’s first visit to one of the nation’s newest soccer-specific stadiums, Rio Tinto, which opened on Oct. 9, 2008 when Real Salt Lake hosted Red Bull New York. Rio Tinto also will be the venue for the 2009 MLS All-Star Game.

RSL boast four former Crew players in their ranks, although currently none of them is a starter. Perhaps most notable is former Crew midfielder Ned Grabavoy (2006-2007, 4 goals in 27 appearances, let go in 2007 expansion draft and picked up by San Jose. Released and picked up by RSL this year). In addition there are: Canadian midfielder Andy Williams (1998-99, 41 appearances, 1 goal), defender Chris Wingert (2004-2005, 49 appearances), and Defender Ian Joy who also was on the Columbus roster briefly in 2003 but made no appearances. Altough he is no longer with the team, coincidentally, RSL’s all-time leading goal scorer is Jeff Cunningham (18) who also is tied with Brian McBride as the Crew’s all-time best ace at 62 career goals (from 1998-2004).

Thursday's match, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET, will be televised live nationally on ESPN2, with Glenn Davis and Kyle Martino calling all the action. Watch it at Claddagh Irish Pub in the Brewery District, the official pub of the Columbus Crew.

RSL may have the advantage as they leverage their special relationship with the allmighty.

Utah is home to the Mormon Church, which is founded on the belief that a man named Joseph Smith found some tablets buried in upstate New York that said Jesus visited the Indians and men should have multiple wives and go door to door in ties and short-sleeved dress shirts.

Shirt Sponsor: XanGo. Founded in 2002, XanGo, LLC is a privately owned international marketing company based in Lehi, Utah. The company markets and distributes Xango juice, a blended juice product consisting of mangosteen and other juices, which is promoted as a dietary supplement.

Stadium: Rio Tinto. Opened in 2008, Rio Tinto Stadium is named after a multinational mining and resources group founded originally in 1873. It is the third-largest coal mining company in the world as of late 2008.

International Affiliation: Real Madrid C.F. The most successful club of the 20th century, Real Madrid C.F. have won a record thirty-one La Liga titles, 17 Spanish Cups, a record nine European Cups and two UEFA Cups.

Coach: Jason Kreis. A former MLS all-time regular season scoring leader, Kreis retired as a player on May 3, 2007, and took over coaching duties. Kreis was also RSL's first player signed.

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