- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 2, 2009
- 6 Comments
- Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Javier Morales, Rio Tinto Stadium, Robbie Rogers, Yura Movsisyan
ESPN2 picked a good one for their game of the week. As the league’s website keeps putting it, this is a matchup of near MLS Cup rivals, or whatever that means. I think its a quality matchup no matter how you spin it. Real Salt Lake hosting the MLS Cup champs Columbus Crew, sounds like a game of the week to me.
Anyways, I’ve tried wrapping my head around this game all week to be honest. RSL got off to a real slow start last week in their opener up in Seattle and Columbus started off with two straight draws. Neither were really expected results for these two clubs but its where we stand right now.
I think the Crew have looked good so far but have been unlucky. RSL on the other hand just looked a bit lost on the road last week.
Keep up with my usual previews this season, I do have a couple questions going into this one.
1. Who wins the battle in the midfield?
When you really break down these two clubs they each possess similar midfields. Pretty strong in the wings, tough in the defensive part and a great playmaker leading the attack. I throw out the venue here in this one as I think the Crew are still the toughest team home or away and I don’t see Rio Tinto being that much more of an advantage to RSL this season unlike what Rice-Eccles use to be.
It comes down to stopping Gullermo Barros Schelotto for Columbus and Javier Morales for RSL. Each do control their midfield very well. So guys like Brian Carroll for Columbus and Kyle Beckerman or Clint Mathis for RSL will certainly have their hands full. I didn’t particularly like how Mathis played last week in Seattle so I am wondering if he and his midfield bunch can bounce back here tonight.
RSL has to keep the pressure on Schelotto I think to win. Force the Crew to play more with Emmanuel Ekpo or Alex Grendi.
2. Which offense will click first.
Lets face it here, neither offensive group has really clicked yet this season. RSL couldn’t do much against Kasey Keller and Seattle. Columbus has only two goals in their first two games, both from Schelotto…who isn’t suppose to be their main scorer.
RSL had a couple good chances with Yura Movsisyan but couldn’t get past Keller. Movsisyan needs to return to his form from late last year. If he can do that tonight I would feel very comfortable with RSL in this one.
3. Player to keep an eye on.
Canadian midfielder Will Johnson for RSL is someone I am wanting to see break out here this season. I know he’s only had a single game under his belt but the home opener should be a good place for him to shine.
Expect this one to be fairly tight. RSL is in their home opener so I would hope for a good crowd tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium for this primetime clash on ESPN2. Both clubs are fairly healthy and won’t be missing anyone to any international callup here. I really want to see if RSL can make Rio Tinto into what they had at Rice-Eccles. I thought they were establishing that late last year but it was only a couple games worth in the playoffs that I saw. I think we’ll get a better sample of what they will make that stadium into here before summer. Until then I kind of lean towards the visitors who are probably hungrier for their first win right onw. Frankie Hejduk and Aljeandro Moreno return from international duty, both may be tired but with them in the lineup I think will make a difference for Columbus.
The Crew ink out a tough road win here as RSL looks good but just not good enough.
WVH Prediction: Columbus 2, RSL 1