Columbus Crew Vs. Real Salt Lake: Match Preview

Posted In Match Previews and Reviews - By Joey Samuel On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 With 0 Comments

American soccer fans will have the chance to take a break from the Gold Cup on Wednesday night as a rematch of the memorable CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series a few months ago is on tap. No Gold Cup matches will be played Wednesday, allowing the soccer community to focus on this intriguing matchup between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake.

Both teams will be missing key players as the Crew’s Robbie Rogers is away representing the United States while Salt Lake’s Will Johnson (Canada), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), and Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador) are all with their respective national teams. Each team is also suffering from injuries. Emilio Renteria, Leandre Griffit, and Danny O’Rourke are all still out for Columbus. Real Salt Lake will be without Paulo Jr. and of course Javier Morales, while Robbie Russell is listed as “questionable.”

Columbus comes into the game in need of points after earning just three in their last five matches. Wednesday’s game is the first of two this week for Columbus, but both are at home. They also face Chicago this weekend. Last week, Columbus was able to snatch a late goal to stun New York at Red Bull Arena in a 1-1 draw. The Crew have fallen to fifth in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 12 games, but they have a few games in hand compared to the teams around them in the standings.

Salt Lake returned to their winning ways last weekend with a 2-0 home victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. That was the team’s first win in their last four games after starting the season so brightly. The Claret & Cobalt currently find themselves in fourth place in the West with 20 points from 10 games, but they have the highest points per game ratio, 2.0, in the entire league. If they continue to convert the games in hand that they have on the other teams above them, they will quickly climb to the top of the Western Conference.

Columbus Player to Watch: Andres Mendoza. The Peruvian was given a DP contract when he resigned with the Crew this offseason and he has played fairly well so far this year. With Renteria out and Tom Heinemann picking up a knock last game, Mendoza will be relied upon to carry the scoring load for Columbus. He may partner with Jeff Cunningham in attack, and the two will need to score at least a goal if the Crew want anything out of this match.

Real Salt Lake Player to Watch: Collen Warner. After the injury to Morales, Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was faced with a difficult decision in replacing the Argentine. The burden of playing in Morales’s position has fallen to Warner, who had previously played as a wide midfielder. He started with some shaky performances but seemed to break out last week in Vancouver. He will need to continue this form if Salt Lake’s offense is to click.

Prediction: 1-1. Each team is missing a number of players all over the pitch, and neither has the firepower to overwhelm the opposition. This one has draw written all over it.

About Joey Samuel - Joey Samuel is an editor of The Allocation Order. He is also an editor at The Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Philadelphia Union blog. Follow him on twitter @joeysamuel.

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