[MLS] One facet of MLS not appreciated by Guillermo Barros Schelotto is playing on artificial turf, and so what happens when the number of fake fields is reduced by one?
When the Crew plays New York Thursday (8 p.m., ESPN2) on the nice green grass of Red Bull Arena, Schelotto won’t be in the lineup. He’s been suspended one game and fined $250 by MLS for whacking Chivas USA defender Michael Umana in the face last weekend. Game officials missed the incident, but the MLS Disciplinary Committee meted out the punishment after reviewing video replays.
New York moved to Red Bull Arena this year after playing on artificial turf for 14 years at Giants Stadium.
Schelotto had been elbowed by Umana in the 15 th minute, so the foul carried more than a hint of retaliation. Referee Jeff Gontarek cautioned Umana, the first of four yellow cards handed out by the referee, but neither he nor the other match officials saw Schelotto jab his arm backward at Umana in the 79th minute
“The committee reviewed the elbow and whether it was or wasn’t,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha. “The guy acted a little bit because it took him a little while before he fell looking at the linesman but a suspension is a suspension. That’s what the committee is for. They saw something. They had to react.”
Columbus will thus be without three starters against the Red Bulls, though resting Schelotto – even if inadvertently – might pay off Sunday when the Crew hosts Kansas City in the first of three double-dips with two days’ rest this season. Midfielder Robbie Rogers and defender Chad Marshall are training with the U.S. squad at its pre-World Cup camp in Princeton, N.J.
Emmanuel Ekpo is one candidate to replace Rogers, and Andy Iro is probably the first choice to take over for Marshall. To make up for the absence of Schelotto, Warzycha can play a traditional two-forward alignment by choosing from Jason Garey, Steven Lenhart, Sergio Herrera, and Emilio Renteria, or play just one forward with five in midfield.
The Crew (4-0-2. 14 points) can take over first place in the Eastern Conference by beating New York (5-3-0, 15 pts.), which has lost its last two league games. The Red Bulls are dinged up, especially in midfield, so the absence of Schelotto may not be crucial.