Friday, June 25, 2004


The Pink Slip Derby

The Columbus Crew returns home this weekend for a match against the Colorado Rapids. Both coaches (Greg Andrulis for the Crew and Tim Hankinson) are on the hot seat as the season moves towards the mid-season point and a win here would do much to relieve one of some pressure while pushing the other further toward an inevitable sacking. The one area where the Rapids exceed the Crew is in the front office, where former Hermann Award winner (given to the best player in college soccer) Dan Counce (1973) steers the ship of the Mile High side, but all of his soccer know-how has not been able to make up for bad decisions by the manager. Anyways, onto the gameplan:

* Puncture the center! The Rapids enter this match missing three guys who can play in the center of midfield due to suspension (Daryl Powell, Kyle Beckerman, and John Spencer) and therefore can be exploited down the middle of the pitch.

* Leave Simon out. Because of the suspensions and a weakened Colorado side (they will be arriving with just 12 field players and the two goalkeepers), the Crew should attack this team in droves, and that means playing three offense-minded players in the center of the formation. The Rapids frontline, consisting of Jean-Philippe Peguero and Jordan Cila, are less-threatening on the whole and can be defended adequately by our three-man backline. Holding Frankie Hejduk and Eric Denton back a little to contend with their flank players (Chris Henderson and Joey DiGiamarino) will open up space behind them for the outer attacking midfielders (Devin Barclay and Manny Lagos) to make diagonal runs into and take on players.

* Use your bench! This side is weakened (have I said that enough already?) and thus we need to make intelligent decisions with the roster to best win this game. That means having Jamal Sutton and David Testo available as substitutions (and USING THEM) if we need more attack out of the wide positions on the field.

The First XI


Prediction: Crew 3, (c)Rapids 1.

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