Since the New England win over Chicago we haven't spent much time with the Revs, but soccer we've had plenty. Tune into All-American Soccer Podcast @AASoccerPod for great discussion of the USA's start on qualifying for World Cup 2014 in Brazil. I've been following the Euros through the Pro Soccer Talk blog on NBC Sports website whenever watching hasn't been easy. With all of that soccer to follow a person could get stuck, so be sure and get outside. Walk the dogs, kick around a ball, or at least get far enough to grill up something tasty for your football viewing. Check out Asphalt Kitchen and hear The Rebel Alliance Podcast interview with @asphaltkitchen here. In the meantime, let's preview this weekend's game between the Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution.
While our Revs have been watching international soccer for the last two weeks (like the rest of us) Columbus haven't played in three weeks. This game could start with both teams showing more rust than well oiled precision. That also suggests that the first team to execute and take control might be able to steal the momentum early. Our Revs are two points behind the Crew in the standings, though, Columbus has played one fewer game. A win and three points would push us ahead of them in the standings and snap a little streak. Columbus went undefeated (3-0-2) in MLS during the month of May with their last two league games wins over Seattle and Chicago. The last game the Crew played, though, was a loss to the Dayton Dutch Lions in the US Open Cup.
I have no idea what to make of the Columbus Crew. This is the franchise that built MLS' first soccer specific stadium and they have even an MLS Cup. Since that 2008 championship, however, a coaching change - Warzycha took over after Schmid left - and the departure of the Schelotto seem to have left the yellow team from Ohio mired in mediocrity. Recently, Columbus beat Chicago and were dumped from the US Open Cup tournament by a lower division team. Sounds like the Revs, right? Here is an essential difference, however, New England had a bit of an implosion last year and our rebuilding efforts this year suggest we are headed towards contention while Crew seem like they might be headed in the opposite direction. That said, Eddie Gaven's creativity, their 2-2-2 road record, and that Columbus remains a credible playoff contender means our Revs cannot take this game lightly.
New England has earned a reputation for offense this season and the rest of MLS is wary of facing Saer Sene. I hope that we start this game quickly and aggressively. Let's get the ball to Sene or Jose Moreno early and scare Columbus with shots from both sides of the field. We are still waiting for Moreno to establish himself the way Sene has, but I think he has shown enough skill in holding up the ball and passing to earn the start. Supporting the forwards I think we'll see a midfield similar to our line up from the Chicago win. Clyde Simms has moved from 'out' to 'questionable' on the most recent injury report. I think that our last win signals that we don't need to rush Simms back to starting, or playing at all! if we can take and hold a lead. Nguyen on the left with Feilhaber and Joseph in the center and some combination of Cardenas and Rowe on the right will be our starting midfield. Rowe came on as a substitute, but he might get the start this week as he scored one and assisted the other goal in that win. Sainey Nyassi's listing on the injury report as 'questionable' this week is the closest to healthy he has been since preseason. Whether or not it happens this week, I expect him to come in as a sub at right midfield or as a striker. Our defensive personnel are unlikely to change, though the entire team's continued concentration on defense could be the difference between wins and losses.
(image courtesy of revolutionsoccer.net)