COLUMBUS, Ohio — To play or not to play: That is
the question. Whether it is nobler to take the weekend off and save all
for MLS or face an inferior foe and possibly suffer misfortune.
OK, so we do don’t know if William Shakespeare was a soccer fan, but
the dilemma facing Columbus this month presented a drama of its own (Taming
of the Crew?).
With two bye weekends in April, coach Robert
Warzycha filled the free time with scrimmages against college foes. It
didn’t seem to help the first game back when the Crew tied FC Dallas on
The Crew are coming off 90 minutes' worth of play vs.
Duquesne University and the University of Louisville last Saturday and
hopes to parlay that effort into a win this coming Saturday against Real
Salt Lake in Crew Stadium. Points to ponder until then:
to play: Despite losing defender Eric Brunner to a concussion
against Marshall University on April 2, Warzycha said the reward is
worth the risk when going against collegians that aren’t usually as
“We are not in Germany," he said. "We are not in
England where we can schedule the games against other professional
teams. We are not in Europe that we can travel 20 miles and get a good
game. We are not in South America, São Paulo, where you have 10 teams or
even more. We are doing the best we can.”
Carroll knows the quality of the college exhibitions is not on par with
league games but they are necessary.
“You have to go in knowing
you need to work hard and get the most out of them,” he said. “You can
do all the running you want in practice but you’re not going to improve
your level unless you’re getting some sort of game minutes.”
Crew have two more exhibitions scheduled: the annual Connor Senn
Memorial Match at Ohio State on May 4 and the first meeting with the new
Dayton Dutch Lions on June 19 in Dayton. The Premier Development League
club is touting it as the “Battle of Ohio.” That should be interesting.
French dressing? Crew technical director Brian
Bliss said on Saturday “It’s coming to a head” whether French midfielder
Leandre Griffit is offered a contract. The two sides have agreed to a
deal but the team must decide if it wants to pull the trigger and get it
done this week.
Ironically, Griffit was one who benefited from
the college games. He first showed well against Marshall on the left
wing to get the Crew brass’ attention and he could provide cover for
Robbie Rogers, who has a sprained ankle.
The Crew would have to
release a player to sign Griffit. Could offseason signee Colombian
striker Sergio Herrera be the one? He didn't play in either CONCACAF
Champions League match in March or the first two MLS games.
his time: Although defender Jed Zayner wanted to spend the
last month playing instead of rehabbing his knee the injury allowed him
to direct full attention to his charity work.
Zayner is founder
and executive director of the non-profit Filleo Co., an organization
that sells clothes to help fund education projects and provide clothing
to the needy. He has a fundraising auction of Crew merchandise on eBay
through April 26. For more information, check his blog.
bay watch: In addition to Robbie Rogers’ gimpy ankle and
Zayner’s knee, Steven Lenhart (leg bruise), Eric Brunner (concussion),
William Hesmer (shoulder) and Frankie Hejduk (hamstring) will be
monitored as to their status for Saturday.
O’Rourke will sit because of red-card suspension and defender Shaun
Francis (ankle) is not ready to return.
A number of
things: With RSL coming to town, the Crew look to improve on
their 7-4-1 record in the first meeting with the previous year’s MLS Cup
winner. The Crew have won four of the past five such encounters.
Overall they are 11-17-5 against reigning champs the following season.