Preview: Crew vs. Earthquakes

Crew look to clinch playoff spot vs. tough Quakes

Crew vs. San Jose

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The Basics

Columbus Crew (13-7-6, 45 points, first in the Eastern Conference) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (11-8-6, 39 points, fifth in the Western Conference) at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

All-time record: Columbus lead 18-12-2.

TV Info

7:30 p.m. ET; ONN (local); Direct Kick, MatchDay Live

Game Intro

Both teams are coming off midweek losses in advance of a possible
playoff matchup. With San Jose and Seattle tied for the final spot,
there’s a possibility the Earthquakes and Crew could meet in the first
round.

The Crew will clinch their third straight postseason appearance if
they win and Kansas City fail to do the same at New York, or if the Crew
tie and KC lose to the Red Bulls.

San Jose lost 3-0 at home to Chicago on Wednesday to drop to 5-2-1 in their past eight games, including 3-1-1 in September.

“After 10 minutes, I was like, ‘This is not a good performance by us,’ ” coach Frank Yallop said.

Columbus fell 2-1 Wednesday in Guatemala to Municipal in a torrential downpour that almost made the field unplayable.

“I don’t think any game should be played in conditions like that,” said defender Andy Iro, whose goal in the 45th minute cut the deficit in half. “It wasn’t good for anybody.”

Columbus Crew

The bad news for the Crew is that they're pretty beat up and sore
from Wednesday’s match. The good news is that eight of the regulars did
not even make the trip and Steven Lenhart and Shaun Francis came off the bench, so the fatigue factor should be minimal.

Furthermore, the team is close to being at full strength. Left back Gino Padula went 90 minutes against Municipal in his first game since July 14, central defender Chad Marshall is expected back after missing two games, midfielder Robbie Rogers should be available for the first time in two months, and forward Emilio Renteria is probable after sitting out two matches.

In their last MLS match, the Crew rallied from two down to tie New England 2-2 on Sept. 25 to end a two-game losing streak.

“A couple of games didn’t go our way, but you can’t start doubting,”
Lenhart said. “We’re freaking players, you know? We’re going to keep
fighting through little spells like that. That’s part of being an
athlete.”

San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose have won two straight on the road and their five away wins
are tied for second-most in the league behind Los Angeles’ seven. The Quakes’ .542 winning percentage (5-4-3) is No. 3.

The San Jose franchise is 3-12 in Columbus in the regular season
dating back to their first year as the Clash in 1996. However, the
current Quakes reincarnation won 2-0 at Crew Stadium in their first
visit two years ago before losing 2-1 in 2009.

On Wednesday against Chicago, a lot went wrong for the Quakes,
including a possible missed handball on the Fire that may have changed
the course of the game. Most pressing, however, was that goalkeeper Jon Busch said the mental preparation wasn’t there.

“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call,” he said. “If you don’t show up and put 100 percent effort in, things like that happen.”

Heroes & Villains

Chris Wondolowski vs. Chad Marshall: The Quakes’ forward got the better of the Crew in the last meeting with a header off a restart by Bobby Convey to tie the match 2-2 in the 79th minute. The goal came nine minutes after Marshall’s header from a Guillermo Barros Schelotto corner gave Columbus the lead.

Besides the added confidence of that performance, Wondolowski is
fresh off a hat trick against Toronto that earned him Player of the Week
honors.

If Marshall returns to the lineup as anticipated look for the
defender to try to establish air dominance, both on offense and defense.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”

Something might have to give – the Crew are 12-0-1 scoring first; San Jose are 10-0-2.

Injuries
Columbus

OUT: MF Danny O'Rourke (back spasms); PROBABLE:
MF Robbie Rogers (L knee surgery); DF Chad Marshall (neck spasms); FW
Emilio Renteria (L adductor strain)


San Jose

OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee surgery); DF Ike Opara
(L foot fracture); GK Joe Cannon (L ankle fracture); DF Ramiro Corrales
(L knee sprain)