Thursday, April 9, 2009

Moffat to Return for Crew Easter Resurrection Revival Meeting

If there is anything good to say about the Crew’s abysmal 2009 start, it is the fact that teams are already overlooking Columbus on the schedule, and this can give the Crew the stealth factor that contributed to their 2008 success, when opponents did not always get fully loaded for the team that spent most of 2007 in the basement.

Case in point: Colorado Rapids Coach Gary Smith was asked on Fox Football Fone-In on Monday who he had his eye on as the major competition this season.

Here was his answer: “I think Chivas has done a great job given their injury list … Seattle, is a new franchise and has a multitude of bodies that Sigi’s trying to build and that he’s done a wonderful job with. I don’t think you can ever write off Houston or New England. You know, they’ve shown the way they perform. The consistency that they have will always give them an opportunity and put them in a position to challenge for an MLS Cup.”

Who is missing from this picture?

Smith’s Rapids face the Crew at Columbus this Saturday, and yet the 2008 MLS Cup Champions appear to be the last thing on the Colorado skipper’s mind.

You can hardly blame him.

The Crew are off to their worst start in 5 years, with no victories in 4 games, and they are coming off a downright embarrassing 0-2 western road trip where they lost two games in 4 days and looked like they might struggle against teams from Women’s Professional Soccer.

Crew Keeper Will Hesmer has given up 8 goals in 4 games for a 2 goals-against average, the worst in MLS. In 2008 Hesmer gave up a total of 36 goals. In 2009, he is on pace to give up 60.

On the offensive side, the Crew’s 4 goals in 4 games puts them on pace to score 30 goals in the season. Last year they tallied 50.

Meanwhile, the Rapids are off to a 2-1 start and are on a good run, having beaten the LA Galaxy twice in a week, most recently a 4-2 victory on penalty kicks where they came from behind with a man down from a red card in US Open Cup play.

Rapids forwards Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are on fire with 5 goals between them in just 3 games. Casey is second and Cummings is fourth in the league in goals scored.

To make matters worse for Columbus, their injury and ineligibility problems continue with Hejduk (hamstring) likely out for Saturday along with Midfielder Robbie Rogers (left hamstring) and defender Chad Marshall, who might have another concussion and is actually openly discussing the possibility that it could be career-ending.

And big Andy Iro is unavailable because of the questionable red card he got against Chivas on Sunday.

The good news for the Crew is that central midfielder Adam Moffat is ready to play and will make his return on Saturday. This will move Ekpo to the wing where he belongs and hopefully give Columbus a boost. Lord knows they need it.

The Rapids lead the all-time series versus the Crew with 14 victories, 8 losses and 7 ties. The Crew won both encounters last year, 2-1 at home on June 28 (video) and 2-0 July 27 (video).

Columbus Projected Lineup
William Hesmer
Jed Zayner
Chad Marshall
Danny O'Rourke
Gino Padula
Eddie Gaven
Brian Carroll
Emmanuel Ekpo
Robbie Rogers
G. Barros Schelotto
Alejandro Moreno

Colorado Projected Lineup
Preston Burpo
Kosuke Kimura
Ugo Ihemelu
Cory Gibbs
Jordn Harvey
Nick LaBrocca
Pablo Mastroeni
Mehdi Ballouchy
Colin Clark
Conor Casey
Omar Cummings

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