THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW
(ESPN2, 7 pm ET/4 pm PT)
By Ridge Mahoney
The cost of missing the playoffs last year and its failure to score a goal in two games this year is putting pressure on the Columbus Crew already, regardless of when Argentine attacker Guillermo Barros Schelotto's paperwork is completed so he can suit up for the Black and Gold.
Columbus tied 0-0 at Real Salt Lake last week after finishing goalless against the New York Red Bulls in its opener. Few of the Crew's 28 shots to date have seriously tested opposing keepers, although a rising 25-yarder off the foot of Eddie Gaven forced a flying save by RSL's Nick Rimando and two other goal-bound shots were cleared.
The Revs rolled over Toronto FC, 4-0, last weekend. Taylor Twellman scored twice in the first 18 minutes, after he rattled a shot off the crossbar in a 1-0 loss to the Fire opening weekend, and his sharp form will be of concern to Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum and a back line still without Chad Marshall (concussion).
Rookie Adam Cristman has not looked out of place up front and veteran Steve Ralston (two assists) is surging up the flank every chance he gets. Andy Dorman, who scored the fourth goal in the rout of TFC, is relishing a greater attacking responsibility in the post-Clint Dempsey era. Khano Smith started at left mid against Toronto and hit a clever cross that led to the first goal. When Joey Franchino comes back from his personal problems he may not have a spot.
New England has gone 176 minutes without allowing a goal after Chicago struck in the fourth minute on opening day with James Riley deputizing for Michael Parkhurst (dislocated shoulder) in the middle of its three-man back line. Yet disgruntled midfielder Shalrie Joseph is again expressing his displeasure at not finalizing a new contract and for the first time has hinted he might go on strike.
In last year's games at Columbus, the Crew won, 3-0, with Jason Garey's goal in the third minute proving to be the gamewinner, and tied the Revs, 1-1, on a late goal by Kei Kamara. New England won both games at Gillette Stadium by 1-0 scores.
The second ESPN2 telecast of the season will include analyst Tommy Smyth alongside host Rob Stone. The regular announcing team features Dave O'Brien (play-by-play), Allen Hopkins (reporter), and Eric Wynalda (provocateur extraordinaire).