Friday, October 30, 2009

Real Salt Lake –vs- Columbus Crew: LEG #1

Today it came to my attention that the prominent Crew blog, Crewture, is predicting a 1-0 Columbus win on Saturday. The logic? Well, I’m not quite sure - you read it for yourself and see if you can figure it out. It seems like the entire post points out reasons that the Crew will not likely win, but then it ends with this statement,

“The Crew are the better team overall and will take care of business. I predict a 1-0 win for Columbus.”

So in the interest of some good-natured, competitive debate here is my rebuttal to the Crewture’s prediction:

Survey Says

Unlike MLSnet’s “Who has the edge” poll, KIR has done its own comprehensive survey of all of the knowledgeable minds in the MLS and they have decisively picked RSL to win this series by an overwhelming 71%. It’s hard to argue that! :) Advantage RSL.

The Numbers Have It

Columbus road record 4-5-6. RSL home record 9-1-5. Which one of these is better? I’m going with 9-1-5. Advantage RSL.

Columbus road goals: 16 For, 16 Against. Real Salt Lake home goals: 34 For, 11 Against. Advantage RSL.

History Repeating Itself

Both teams beat each other at home in decisive fashion. In Real Salt Lake’s case it was a 4-1 drubbing of the Crew in early April. The Crew returned the favor in July with a 3-1 victory. When I last checked this one’s played at Rio Tinto. Advantage RSL.

A Thing Called “Mo”

Momentum is a crucial thing at this time of year. Frankie Hejduk referred to this on the media conference call. He sounded a bit concerned that his team don’t have “Mo” on their side like they did when they opened the playoffs a year ago. Columbus is coming into this one losing 3 out of 4 in October, scoring a single goal during this stretch while giving up 3 goals. On the other hand Real Salt Lake won 2 out of 3 in October, scoring 5 goals during that stretch while giving up 1. “Mo” is clearly on our side. Advantage RSL.

Final Analysis?

Crewture did get one thing right. I think that the Crew will try to play it safe. They will likely play with the 4-man backline, despite a propensity to go with 3 in the back. They will also likely go with a single forward, although GBS will drift up high when he feels the itch. Counterattacks and set pieces will likely be their modus operandi.

Real Salt Lake will try to take advantage of their enormous home field advantage. They’ll try to score early and once they do, they’ll push to bank a goal or two to weather the storm they would undoubtedly face in the Buckeye state.

I agree with Coach Warzycha’s assessment that his team will “have to play our best game” in order to come out with a win at Rio Tinto. And unfortunately for them, it’s unlikely that they can just throw the switch and make that happen after a lackluster run of form over the last month.

KIR Prediction: 3-1 Real Salt Lake

Disclaimer: Any dispersions cast on the Crew, Crew fans, Crewture or the state of Ohio was purely intentional.