While preparations were being made ahead of tonight's match between the Crew and Chivas USA, a message from U.S. Men's National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann was found scrawled on the white board in the Crew coaches' office left following the US's 1-0 victory over Jamaica at Crew Stadium last week:
"Coach Robert & Crew Coaching Staff,
Thanks a lot for having us and we are looking forward to coming back again!
Good luck for the rest of the season!
YOU CAN MAKE IT!
Coach Jürgen & Martin Vasquez"
Robert Warzycha was happy to have the support from Klinsmann as the Crew vies for a playoff spot.
"It shows we have classy National Team coaches," Warzycha said. "They obviously care about MLS and about us doing the right things."
Plenty of Crew Youth Alumni were in action this weekend in NCAA Division I men's soccer. Here are some of the highlights:
Akron Zips- (4-1-2) This Week: 0-0 D vs. St. John's, 5-0 W vs. USF
Friday's 0-0 nationally televised match between the Zips and St. John's resulted in a 0-0 stalemate. Akron responded on Sunday with a 5-0 thumping of USF. Eric Stevenson scored the third goal in the rout.
Ohio State Buckeyes- (3-3-0) This Week: 2-1 W vs. DePaul
Defenders and Crew Youth prouducts Sage Gardner and Zach Mason each registered a shot on goal in the Buckeyes' 2-1 win over DePaul on Friday night. Ohio State will face tough task as Louiville visits Columbus on Tuesday.
Xavier Musketeers- (4-0-2) This week: 1-1 D at Virginia
The Musketeers went on the road to battle Virginia to a 1-1 draw, remaining unbeaten this season. Freshman Rhodes Moore earned his first start in the draw.
UCLA Bruins- (4-1-1) This Week: 1-0 W vs. Loyola Marymount
Captain Matt Wiet helped the Bruins to a clean sheet victory against crosstown rivals Loyola Marymount on Friday night. UCLA will travel north to UC Santa Barbara this weekend for a clash with the Guachos in a nationally televised match on FOX Soccer.
Through his first six matches (five starts), there is no denying that Federico Higuaín has made an instant impact in the Crew attack with his three goals and six assists since joining the team last month.
But at the same token, perhaps teams are starting to learn how to defend against the Argentine. Following last Wednesday's loss in New England-- the only hiccup the Crew has had since Higuaín joined the club-- Revolution coach Jay Heaps was pleased with how his team disrupted the forward in the final third.
"Columbus is a rhythm team and we never really let them get into rhythm," the first-year head coach explained following his team's victory. "And that was important that [Jairo] Arrieta and [Federico] Higuain couldn’t get the ball. And that was our focus – when they did get the ball, we wanted a guy on them quickly. You could see when Higuain would get the ball we were on him, and he started to drift wider and we knew to take him there."
The OPTA Chalkboards below illustrate where Higuaín's activity and distribution has been on the field over his first five starts in Black & Gold. As you can see, Heaps was correct in that his team forced Higuaín out onto the right wing more often. What is more noticable is that most of Higuaín's activity is coming in the middle third and teams are starting to limit his touches in and around the penalty area. Also, it seems Higuaín was dropping the ball off to players behind him more often in New England last week.
From what these charts show, perhaps teams are starting to learn Higuaín's tendencies a bit as they study more film on the Argentine playmaker. At the same time, Higuaín is learning to exploit MLS defenses as he adjusts to the league as well. And maybe teams picking up on Higuaín's tendencies isn't such a bad thing either. As the Argentine attracts defenders, it opens up space and opportunities for Jairo Arrieta, Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka, Milovan Mirosevic, and Chris Birchall to score goals.
Furthermore, the Crew's future opponents will still have to be wary of conceding corner kicks and free kicks in dangerous areas. Higuaín has served up two assists from dead balls and banged home two free kick goals.
Week 3 of the college soccer season has come and gone, here's how some notable Crew Youth alumni performed:
Akron Zips- (3-1-1) This Week: 1-0 W vs. Indiana, 3-1 L at Notre Dame
Akron opened up the weekend in South Bend at the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament with a 1-0 win over Indiana. Crew Youth product Eric Stevenson had the lone goal in the fixture. On Sunday, the Zips fell to hosts Notre Dame 3-1 for the team's first loss of the season. Stevenson, Wil Trapp, Andrew Souders, Thomas Schmitt, and Chad Barson have played in all five of Akron's games this season.
Louisville Cardinals- 21-2-0) This Week: 3-0 W vs. Army
In one match last week, the Cardinals took care of business on their home turf with a 3-0 win over Army. Crew Youth's Alex Obbey supplied the assist to Buck Tufty to open the scoring for UL.
Xavier Musketeers- (4-0-1) This week: 3-1 W at IUPUI, 3-1 W vs.UW Milwaukee
In a midweek match in Indianapolis, Matt Walker led the Musketeers to a 3-1 victory against IUPUI with a pair of goals. On Sunday, Walker's twin brother Will scored in Xavier's 3-1 win over UW Milwaukee at home will Matt and Rhodes Moore each supplied assists.
USF BULLS- (4-1-0) This Week: 1-0 L vs. South Carolina, 2-1 W vs. Iona
Crew Youth's Eric Osswald suffered his first defeat of the season in goal against South Carolina last Thursday, but helped his team to a 2-1 victory over Iona on Saturday.
UCLA Bruins- (3-1-1) This Week: 2-1 W vs. Tulsa, 2-1 W vs. UC Irvine
Captain Matt Wiet led the Bruins to a pair of victories in Week 3 with his solid play in central defense.
The last time the U.S. Men's National Team played at Crew Stadium was when the Yanks toppled rival Mexico on February 11, 2009 in 2010 World Cup Qualifying. Michael Bradley provided both goals in the 'dos a cero' 2-0 victory.
The only holdovers from that squad currently with the Stars & Stripes are Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore... and of course Frankie Hejduk, who started that match at right back, will be roaming around Crew Stadium on Tuesday night when the US hosts Jamaica.
Here are some highlights from the match from 2009:
The 2012-13 US Soccer Development Academy preview is out and US Soccer Technical Staff Carson Porter had some high praise for Crew Academy standout Benny Swanson and the advatage of playing up in the system.
Academy teams that benefit from players playing up:
Porter: "The Columbus Crew does a nice job playing players up. Ben Swanson is a ’97-born player who has just moved to Bradenton, Fla., and joined the U.S. U-17’s and he benefitted from being a starter for the entire year last year with the U-15/16’s despite playing up an age level. He also was rostered for the U-17/U-18’s when they made the playoffs. These are great experiences that helped prepare him for the YNT system.”
EA Sports, the award winning developer of sports video games, is creating a downloadable game cover for FIFA 13 to show their support of Major League Soccer. To determine which MLS players will appear on that cover, EA Sports is polling MLS fans to choose the three remaining spots on the game cover. The three clubs whose candidates receive the most votes will join the top-ranked player on MLSSoccer.com's 3rd annual "24 under 24" list and the downloadable cover will be revealed at the launch party in New York City on September 24.
Plus, fans who participate in the voting will be automatically entered to win two tickets to the Sideline FIFA Lounge (lounge seats on the sideline of the field with TV's and consoles included) at the 2012 MLS Cup!
Voting started on Saturday and will run through September 15. Columbus Crew's representative is Designated Player Federico Higuain.