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.
Crew players visited patients at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Burn Unit with local firefighters to commemorate 9/11 and the National Day of Service.
In remembrance of September 11, 2001, Columbus Crew midfielder Cole Grossman, Midfielder Chris Birchall, Defender Josh Williams, Forward Justin Meram and Hunt Sports Group representative Lamar Hunt Jr. were accompanied by active duty firefighters from the Columbus Fire Department to visit patients at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Burn Unit. This was a part of the National Day of Service on Tuesday, September 11th.
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.
Fantastic atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. AO watch parties looked to be well-attended too! #UniteAndStrengthen
— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) September 12, 2012
Klinsmann, U.S. players gushing over #Crew96 Stadium atmosphere. Obvious they want to play here as much as possible.
— Shawn Mitchell (@smitchcd) September 12, 2012
USA still undefeated at Crew Stadium! USA - when you need 3, come home to Crew Stadium - we will deliver! twitter.com/CrewPrez/statu…
— Mark McCullers (@CrewPrez) September 12, 2012
Well deserved 3 points! Amazing crowd tonight! Great effort all around from the boys!!#USA
— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) September 12, 2012
Well done, Columbus. We see you.
— Nike Soccer (@nikesoccer) September 12, 2012
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) September 12, 2012
Great crowd here in Columbus tonight! Thanks for your support and making it that much more special! #9/11
— Brek Shea (@BrekShea) September 12, 2012
Danny Williams: "I have played before emotional fans in Germany but never anything like this. The 24,000 felt like 50 or 60,000 in here"
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) September 12, 2012
Cherundolo: USSF "should put thought into playing more games here or venues that are similar." KC is next month, final round sites tbd
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 12, 2012
Tim Howard: "We were talking inside and there’s no bigger homefield advantage for us in America than here." #USMNT
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) September 12, 2012
— Dante Washington (@DanteWashington) September 12, 2012
— Dante Washington (@DanteWashington) September 12, 2012
— MassiveCity (@MassiveCityFFC) September 12, 2012
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) September 12, 2012
— U.S. SOCCER (@ussoccer) September 12, 2012
Following Friday's night's loss in Kingston, three important points hang in the balance for the United States Men's National Team in Tuesday night's re-match in 2014 World Cup Qualifying.
Where better to host than Crew Stadium, where the Stars & Stripes are 5-0-3 all-time? National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard is happy for the chance to rebound in front of a home crowd at a venue where the US has seen so much past success.
"Crew Stadium has been good to us," the Everton 'keeper said. "The crowd always turns out. It is one of very few places in America that we get a pro-American crowd in terms of the cast majority. That's going to feel really good. We've been away from home three games in a row now and we need some home cooking. All of our feelings leaving this stadium have been very positive in the past 10 years, so that's a good thing."
Howard was a part of the last US team to play at Crew Stadium, a 2-0 shutout of Mexico on February 11, 2009 as part of 2010 World Cup Qualifying.
The U.S. Men's National Team returned from Jamaica to hold a public training session at Crew Stadium. Over 3000 fans got to watch the USMNT up close and personal.