Friday, May 08, 2009

Taking on the Defending Champs

The Wizards are back in action again on Saturday when they travel to Columbus to take on defending MLS Cup Champions, the Columbus Crew. The Crew, though, have had a rough go of it to begin the season as they are currently winless with 5 points (0-2-5) through their first 7 games. They will be getting a few players back from suspension and injury it would appear though. Gino Padula returns after sitting out one game for his red card suspension. Also it appears that Crew captain, Frankie Hejduk is set to return, while former Wizard Will Hesmer could also make his return from injury. The Crew will be desperate to get that "last team without a win" title off their back this weekend.

The Wizards come in having gone through the motions it seemed in the teams 1-1 draw with DC on Wednesday out at Community America Ballpark. They'll be looking to break a 5 game winless streak against the Crew in all competitions (all came last year, 3 league and 2 playoff games). Having made it out to practice today, it looks like there could be some lineup changes made with another short break between games. Herculez Gomez was out at practice, but was on the side with Chance Myers and Adam Cristman. I was told that Gomez apparently had his knee drained. So I don't expect Gomez to be starting come Saturday. The other thing from practice was that Claudio Lopez was not out there at all today. I don't know if he was just given the day off and inside on the bike or what. But with the game only a day away I'm surprised he wasn't out there. Maybe Coach Onalfo is giving Lopez the game off to save his legs, similar to what he tried to do at times last year. If neither one of those two play, then we'll likely see a lineup similar to what we saw in Toronto.
Watson - Conrad - Hohlbein - Besler
Harrington - Jewsbury - Espinoza
Arnaud - Wolff

If Lopez can go, I'd expect Harrington to drop to the bench and Arnaud to drop to right midfield.

Key Match Up - Jimmy Conrad vs Chad Marshall on free kicks - Marshall seemed to get the better of Conrad in those situations last year so this year hopefully Conrad can return the favor. This will be a match up of two of the better defenders in MLS and with Guillermo Barros Schelotto playing in the Crew's corners and free kicks, Conrad will have to be on his game marking the Crew center back.

PREDICTION - The Crew have got to be hungry, they've blown leads the past 3 games to settle for draws instead of wins. Two of those blown leads have come in the 82nd minute or later. Eventually the Crew defense is going to step up and just shut a team down similar to how they did in the 2008 season. Unfortunately with the way that the Wizards offense has looked lately (aimless), I have a bad feeling it'll be this game. I'll be watching the game this weekend from Coach's again. Yes I know there's a watch party at Fox & Hound off of Metcalf, but the fact that Coach's has supported the team before there was an official watch party this season I'll be attending at Coach's.

KC - 1 (Arnaud)
CLB - 2 (Marshall, Schelotto)


Anonymous said...

Not good reporting at all. If Lopez is nowhere to be seen, find out where he is. No wonder you are out of a job!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is harsh.

Considering this is best site to get real insight on the Wizard. This site is honest and very accurate, if you are frustrated about something else I suggest you find a better outlet. And if you are frustrated with the Wiz...well join the club

Anonymous said...

Mike and Thad does an AWESOME job
and I for one am thankful for their reporting. The Wizards and their fans are very lucky to have them!!! They both do an EXCELLENT job that deserves commending.
Thank you both.