CCL Preview: Crew vs. Municipal

Crew, Rojos begin CCL journey in Group B tilt

2010 CONCACAF Champions League, Group B, Match Day 1

Columbus Crew (11-5-4, 37 points, MLS) vs. CSD Municipal (2-1-1, 7 points, Guatemalan National League), at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

All-time series: The Crew hosted Municipal in a postseason exhibition on Nov. 8, 2006, and won 2-0.

TV Info

8 p.m. ET; Fox Soccer Channel

Game Intro

Municipal have won their domestic league twice in a row – the 2009
Apertura and the 2010 Clausura. Third in their league table, Municipal
are coming off of a 3-1 victory over last-place Suchitepéquez.

The Crew are currently in first in the Eastern Conference and, opposed to their rivals, are coming off a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake.
They'll be looking to start off on the right foot in Champions League
competition and will hope to gain some confidence back with a solid
victory over their Guatemalan counterparts.

Columbus Crew

Three of Columbus' first four Champions League games are at home. The
Crew, winners of the past two Supporters’ Shields, finished 2-2-2 in
last year's CCL group stage to become the only MLS team to move to the
quarterfinals. However, they were eliminated 5-4 on aggregate by
Mexico's Toluca.

“[The Champions League] is a good competition for us,” midfielder Brian Carroll
said. “We were close to advancing even further [last year]. There’s a
lot we can learn from that [loss], build from that and do well this
year. It’s a challenging tournament at a challenging time for us.

“We learned it’s tough but we can grind out performances home and
away and we’re going to need everybody’s minutes and everybody’s legs in
order to do well.”

Municipal

Three of Municipal's players are familiar with MLS and the style of
play, having once donned MLS clubs' jerseys. Two in particular, Mario
Rodríguez and Freddy García, should know the Crew pretty well. In 2005,
Rodríguez scored one goal for Columbus, against Kansas City on June 29.
García played with the Crew a few years before Rodríguez (2002-03)
before returning home.

The third player with MLS experience, and with the most important
contribution from the trio, is Guillermo “Pando” Ramírez, who played on
loan with Los Angeles in 2005. He didn't score during the regular
season, but notched the overtime winner against New England to give the
Galaxy an MLS Cup title.

Nevertheless, Municipal will be led by captain Juan Carlos Plata, who
has 299 goals in his 20-year career with the Guatemalan club.

Heroes & Villains

Jetlag vs. home advantage: There’s no telling what the
lineups will be but both sides want a fast start to the tournament.
Municipal have a long flight to get to Columbus, so a point on the road
would be a great result for the Guatemalan club. The Crew are coming off
a road loss, but they should exploit their home advantage. In order to
get three points, Columbus' midfield must perform better than in the
loss to RSL.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”

Rodríguez is known as “El Loco” (the Crazy One) but was relatively
sane with the Crew. In 19 games (15 starts) he committed 24 fouls,
received two cautions and one red card.