Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Regular-season champ Crew eyes MLS Cup
by Ridge Mahoney, October 31st, 2008 7AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS PLAYOFF PREVIEW]If the 2008 Crew, winner of the Supporters' Shield, isn't all that different than the 2007 version that missed the playoffs, how can it be so much better?

"I can't speak for last year because I wasn't here last year," says midfielder Brian Carroll, acquired during the expansion draft in a trade with San Jose, who had claimed him from D.C. United. "But I would say it seems to be night and day, just the mentality that this team has going forward and our mindset going into each and every game. It's more strong and more confident this year."

Carroll said this way back in May, long before Columbus clinched the Eastern Conference title with weeks to spare, Guillermo Barros Schelotto topped the league with 19 assists, and the Crew set a club record by winning 17 games to set up a semifinal series with Midwest rival Kansas City.

"Toward the end of last year we took a couple of steps forward and the important thing is that we were able to build on those things," says forward Alejandro Moreno, who played for Coach Sigi Schmid in Los Angeles and has been a key attacking figure since coming to Columbus midway through the 2007 season. In 52 games (all starts) for Columbus, Moreno has scored 16 goals and registered 11 assists. Those aren't spectacular stats, but solid, and typical of players on the current squad.

"Obviously Brian Carroll has added a lot to our team and certainly now Robbie Rogers is a different player than what we was last year," says Moreno. "The important thing for us is that those young guys - Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Brad Evans - perform at a consistent level. We need them game in and game out."

Those three players have combined for just 14 goals, but added to Moreno's nine and Schelotto's seven, the Crew attack presents myriad difficulties for opposing defenses.

The Crew defense may represent Schmid's best work. He moved defensive midfielder Danny O'Rourke alongside former phenom defender Chad Marshall, and this odd pairing has revived Marshall's career and given O'Rourke a much brighter future. Stalwart right back Frankie Hejduk hasn't slowed down, and once Argentine left back Gino Padula recovered from two injury setbacks, his flank has seldom been breached.

This formidable opponent doesn't faze Kansas City, which sputtered through parts of the season, then won five of its last seven thanks in part to a rebirth of Argentina attacker Claudio Lopez and a tactical adjustment that moved Jack Jewsbury from outside back to holding midfielder and brought Davy Arnaud into a central attacking role.

Lopez is the perfect meld of guile, experience, and surprise to upend the league's best team, but only if the Wizards can contain Columbus. Joining veteran Jimmy Conrad on the backline are rookie right back Jonathan Leathers, and two other young players: left back Michael Harrington (second season) and Conrad's partner in the middle, Tyson Wahl (32 MLS games).

"Jonny Leathers is somebody who has really canceled a couple of really big threats in the last couple of games in [New England's] Khano Smith and [San Jose's] Darren Huckerby. We have a ton of confidence in him at this point," says keeper Kevin Hartman, who can certainly help his team by reproducing his brilliant days in LA, when he played for that Schmid fellow.


MLS EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
Game 1
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (HDNet, Direct Kick)
KANSAS CITY (11-10-9, 4th) vs.COLUMBUS (17-7-6, 1st)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
USA-Costa Rica: Olympic tuneups end with easy win    
The USA closed out its preparations for the Olympic women's soccer tournament on Friday when it ...
Video Pick: Golazo by Dortmund's Dembele vs. Manchester United    
Why did Borussia Dortmund spend a reported $15 million to get 19-year-old Ousmane Dembele from French ...
Arsenal names roster for U.S. trip    
Arsenal's preliminary list of players who will travel to the United States includes American midfielder Gedion ...
What They're Saying: Axel Sjoberg    
"I don't think I have to sell myself to Dominic Kinnear. He picked the team and ...
USA-Costa Rica: Scorcher expected for final Rio tuneup    
The USA plays its last game before it heads off to the Rio Olympics when it ...
MLS Countdown: Marsch comments roil waters for derby    
Three times a year comes the question: will New York be red or blue? The Hudson ...
Crowd Count: FC Cincinnati sets another USL record    
FC Cincinnati set a USL single-season attendance record when it drew 16,127 fans Wednesday at Nippert ...
MLS Countdown: Quakes duo has red cards rescinded    
The San Jose Earthquakes will have their Panamaniacs available for a game at Real Salt Lake ...
MLS Moves: Orlando bolsters backline with Aja signing    
The first player signed by Orlando City after the hiring of head coach Jason Kreis has ...
U.S. Abroad: Ankle injury sidelines Hyndman    
Emerson Hyndman, who joined Premier League club Bournemouth from Fulham as a free agent in the ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives