MLS Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 10, 2012
(All times Eastern)
Columbus (0-0-0) at Colorado (0-0-0), 6 p.m.
Commerce City, CO (Sports Network) - The Columbus Crew's season opener at the
Colorado Rapids on Saturday has more significance than just starting the year
with a positive result.
Columbus has been eliminated in the postseason by Colorado Rapids the last two
seasons, and visits Dick's Sporting Goods Park in a match featuring two squads
that have a lot of questions to answer in 2012.
Although the Crew survived Robert Warzycha's makeover prior to last season, it
faces more adjustments this season.
Andres Mendoza had a team-high 13 goals and also bagged two assists last year,
and Robbie Rogers escaped an up-and-down season with a team-high seven assists
and two goals.
That duo departed in the offseason, leaving a just few big pieces in place for
the upcoming season in defender Chad Marshall and midfielder Eddie Gaven.
Although Warzycha has a lot of young talent on board, getting those players to
jell will be a task. He also acquired Chilean international midfielder Milovan
Mirosevic and Costa Rican forward Olman Lopez, but how they adapt is unknown.
Warzycha proved last year he could retool the club, but the competition may be
even better throughout the league. That said, Columbus should still be able to
contend for a playoff berth.
And if it advances again this season, it could not face Colorado until the MLS
Cup. The postseason format changed prior to this season, meaning there are not
cross-over teams between conferences for the postseason.
Columbus has dealt with injuries this preseason, and that could hurt the team
early in the season.
"Look at all the new guys we have," Warzycha said. "It's not because we're
trying to change the team. It's because we have injuries."
Colorado just won the MLS Cup two seasons ago and advanced in the playoffs one
year ago, but it no longer has coach Gary Smith and has turned the squad over
to Oscar Pareja.
Pareja starts his tenure with forward Conor Casey and defender Anthony Wallace
both out with Achilles injuries, and midfielder Jamie Smith sidelined with an
ACL tear, among other problems, and will face a brutal schedule with the slate
Casey and Smith are important pieces on offense, and Pareja admitted, "They're
not ready, but they're doing very well."
Like Columbus, Colorado could face a long year if the opening stages take too
big of a toll.
Colorado and Columbus will not meet each other again in the regular season, as
the schedule will limit West vs. East matches this year, but both hope to look
back on the meeting as the spark for a successful season.
03/09 17:23:28 ET