Tuesday Kickoff: CCL Tale of the Tape

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Photo by Rick Osentoski/ISIphotos.com

By AVI CREDITOR

Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew will play their first meaningful game in almost four months when Crew Stadium opens its doors for the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel).

The Crew isn't being given much of a chance, considering the offseason moves the team has made and the amount of injuries that have piled up during the MLS preseason.

Conversely, Real Salt Lake is in pretty good health, added veteran depth to its midfield and figures to enter the 2011 MLS season as one of the favorites to reach the MLS Cup final.

Here's a closer look at how the two teams line up ahead of Tuesday night's match in Columbus:

COLUMBUS CREW VS. REAL SALT LAKE

KEY OFFSEASON LOSES

Real Salt Lake – Robbie Findley, David Horst

Columbus Crew – Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Steven Lenhart, Brian Carroll, Gino Padula, Jason Garey, Eric Brunner

KEY OFFSEASON ACQUISITIONS

Real Salt Lake – Arturo Alvarez, Cody Arnoux

Columbus Crew – Jeff Cunningham, Sebastian Miranda, Cole Grossman, Rich Balchan, Justin Meram, Korey Veeder, Josh Gardner

CURRENT INJURIES

Real Salt Lake – Javier Morales (ankle), Arnoux (knee), Alvarez (adductor strain)

Columbus Crew – Will Hesmer (shoulder), Andy Gruenebaum (groin/hip), Shaun Francis (hamstring), Kevin Burns (ribs), Dilly Duka (abdomen), Danny O'Rourke (knee)

PATH TO THE QUARTERFINALS

Real Salt Lake – Won Group A; Went 4-1-1 against Cruz Azul, Toronto FC and Arabe Unido

Columbus Crew – Finished second in Group B; Went 4-2-0 against Santos Laguna, Municipal and Joe Public

POTENTIAL LINEUPS

Real Salt Lake

——-Espindola———Saborio——-
–Johnson—–Morales—–Grabavoy—
—————-Beckerman————-
-Wingert–Borchers–Olave–Russell–
—————–Rimando—————-

Columbus Crew

——-Cunningham—–Renteria——
–Rogers———-Ekpo——–Gaven–
——————Balchan—————-
–Gardner–Marshall–Iro–Miranda–
——————Burse——————

PREDICTION

The overpowering consensus seems to be that Real Salt Lake will go into Columbus and thrash the Crew, but it likely won't be that simple.

Both teams are still in preseason mode and temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s, which should level the playing field a bit and play into the Crew's favor to help offset the experience/continuity/talent gap. Columbus also has Chad Marshall in central defense, and while he can't do everything himself, he's capable of thwarting numerous chances in his own end alongside Andy Iro.

That being said, the untested Ray Burse will be getting the start in goal, there's little to no continuity from the successful squads of years past and previous role players like Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo will have to grow into starring roles for the Crew to hang tough – not just tonight, but all season long.

While Columbus' lineup will barely resemeble anything like its 2010 version, the same cannot be said for Real Salt Lake. Coach Jason Kreis has the luxury of relying on a starting XI he knows can get the job done, and it likely will despite being on the road playing under less-than-ideal conditions.

Prediction: Real Salt Lake 2, Columbus Crew 0

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Who do you think will win tonight's match? What's your prediction for the final score?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Champions League, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- Real Salt Lake. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Tuesday Kickoff: CCL Tale of the Tape

  1. Mr. Beef says:

    I will give credit where credit is due. RSL has done a great job building a very good team over the years. Yes, they were a laughing stock in the beginning but they are the ones laughing now. Their organization is nothing but class. Can’t find any reason to really hate them except they are not from Chicago. That’s good enough for me.

  2. Peter says:

    This game will be close, can’t wait to watch!

  3. Idaho Brian says:

    I am looking forward to a great game tonight. RSL are and should be the favorites, but on a cold night in Columbus,with both teams in pre-season form…anything can happen. Go RSL!

  4. JohnC says:

    The craziest thing about RSL lineup is that they have so much depth with all the talented young players on their team:

    F: Paulo Jr., Cody Arnoux
    M: Luis Gill, Jean Alexandre, Collin Warner

    I don’t root for either team but for MLS sake I hope RSL advances cleanly and takes it to one of the mexican teams. Saborio and Morales are beasts and Will Johnson is one of my fav players to watch in the MLS.

  5. Andrew says:

    Andres Mendoza, the Crew’s high salary striker, will prob. get the start over either Cunningham or Renteria. Additionally, one should point out that if it weren’t for injuries to Hesmer, O’Rourke, Francis, and possibly Gaven, the Crew’s first XI would look very similar to last year’s (minus Hejduk and GBS).

  6. jason says:

    Everything you said, but replace Chicago with DC.

  7. Frisco Andy says:

    While I don’t think Columbus is as bad as some people think they are, they will be missing a few too many key ingredients tonight. Burse is a nice guy but I think he’s more of a USL-level keeper. 2-0 RSL.

  8. Jack says:

    Agree, except they’re not from NY.

  9. Jeff says:

    No idea why the weather is considered a leveler tonight. The night time temps here are in the 20′s more often then not.

  10. Bryan says:

    You said Morales had an ankle injury, but hes in your potential line up? Or are there 2 people with the last name Morales that play for RSL?

  11. tnnelson says:

    RSL’s roster is too deep, one of the best in MLS if you ask me, and I’d definitely throw them in for the Supporters Shield along with the Galaxy and maybe NY. they are easily MLS’ best chance of winnin the CCL (fingers crossed), and the Crew just don’t have the same team as last year. Even if Columbus advanced, I wouldn’t see them beating a Mexican side in the semis, but I could definitely see RSL winning there, and they don’t lose at home. Anything can happen I know, but I think RSL is way too strong for them

  12. Frank says:

    There is absolutely no way an MLS team is going to beat a team from Mexico in the semis.

  13. Jeremy says:

    So it looks like we’re forced to admit the worst branded team in the league plays the most attractive soccer.

    Just get rid of the “Real” name before they make history and the whole world cracks up at American capitalism’s expense one more time

  14. Dale says:

    That’s why CONCACAF set up the quarter finals so MLS teams could avoid Mexican teams(to fuuny). nice try guys but I think you underestimate Saprissa, a club that has already won this tournament before.Facing a Mexican team is unevitable, so it’s good to avoid them as long as possible.

  15. FSegaud says:

    Right, they can only meet in the finals I believe

  16. jb says:

    thats true because all the mexican clubs are on the other side of the bracket. RSL would likely be favored if they made it to semis, and I for one think theyre plenty capable of winning it all.

  17. three11stu says:

    The only thing that worries me is Cunningham. He always comes out to play against RSL, as I think he always is trying to show Kries up for letting him go. That being said, RSL gets the win in this one.

  18. DC Josh says:

    I want nothing more than for an MLS team to win the CONCACAF champions league. RSL can do it this year. At least it is impossible to have an all-Mexican final again.

  19. el guanaco says:

    real salt lake wasn’t my first choice either but it’s grown on me. it could be worse…there are two uruguayan sides called liverpool fc and montevideo wanderers!

    anybody who watched RSL hand it to cruz azul for 85 minutes last round wouldn’t doubt our ability to win in mexico.

    i’m stoked for tonight and for RSL’s chances this season. go RSL!

  20. Czo13 says:

    I live an hour south of Columbus, I think there might be freezing rain/sleet/snow tonight. :)

  21. Czo13 says:

    I would really like to see Leandre Griffit get the nod tonight at some point. The Crew need him, and not to mention he has UCL experience with IF Elfsborg in Sweden. Columbus Till I Die.
    The Crew are not as weak as one would think, but all in all I am hoping for a win, but expecting a draw.

  22. STGCaveman says:

    Javi’s injury isn’t bad enough to keep him out of this one… At least that’s what I’m hoping…

  23. STGCaveman says:

    You just had to bring the Mexico City game up didn’t you?!? That game still hurts me inside… But it does prove that this team has what it takes to potentially win anywhere…

    I too had my name to the list of Real Salt Lake name haters at the beginning but… Whatever. I don’t care anymore.

    Here’s to a RSL victory and great Cup run!

  24. Trent says:

    I wouldn’t list Brunner as a key loss.

  25. luke says:

    and carroll

  26. luke says:

    and Lenhart

  27. duhboy7 says:

    just…..stop.

  28. duhboy7 says:

    inevitable.

  29. Charles says:

    Man I can’t wait for this game and the MLS season in general.

  30. el guanaco says:

    sorry. definitely a painful game but it was exciting as hell to watch! had olave or even schuler been at centerback for mackenzie i don’t think the last 2 goals would’ve been scored.

    are you from my beautiful hometown of AF?

  31. Matt says:

    Espindola’s injury is supposed to keep him out of the game.

  32. Matt says:

    RSL/Crew will play the winner of Saprissa/Marathon, or whatever.

  33. Matt says:

    Carroll, not Lenhart. Steven Lenhart was the #4 Crew striker last year (Guillermo, Renteria, Mendoza).

    And a case could be made that Frankie wasn’t a starter. DannyO was a better choice at RB last year.

  34. Matt says:

    Hahahaha, nice.