FIVE DAYS. Five days are all that separates us from "First Kick". Five days separate us from the 2012 Crew Season. Five days till we see the Columbus Crew take the field for a "real" game. Five days that will pass by very fast for some, very slow to others, but never the proper pace for anyone. Five days till we get a look at yellow kits with a spanking new sponsor on the front and a few new names on the back looking to propel this team to glory. Five days till we get to start all over with our praises/complaints with regards to coaching, players, lineups, the FO, security, etc...
I'll go ahead and start on that last one. I'm not complaining or praising yet. I'm stating the obvious and adding some notes and speculations based on what I have seen in some practices, pre-season games and what has come out of camp so far. I'm also basing some of my speculations on the way I have watched this team play the past few seasons under Robert Warzycha.
Here is my starting lineup (should contain no surprises)
More details after the jump.
It looks very likely that Warzycha will start with a 4-5-1 formation, or what I feel will more precisely be 4-2-3-1. The only things we know for sure are Miranda and Marshall on defense, Mirosevic, Gaven and Duka in the middle and Renteria as the lone striker.
Here are the notes:
- I do think that Hesmer will start in Denver. The fact that he didn't play in the off-season does not worry me.
- Shawn Francis did not look good this off-season. I actually believe that Montenegrin left back Nemanja Vukovic played better overall especially against the Chicago Fire. Vukovic seemed to me more wanting to drive up the left side an cross the ball or even take shots from outside the box. Francis, however, still looked pretty timid. Passes were off target or cut off and didn't seem to want to push up. I don't know if he is still not feeling 100% in his recovery or if there is something else going on. At this point, though Vukovic is still a non-roster trialist, I believe that he has the edge over Francis. Vukovic has been invited to return to Columbus and continue his trial/training with the team and there are still 2 spots available on the Crew's roster.
- Urso seemed to turn quite a bit of heads in camp and during games. Him and Finlay tended to be bunched with probable/likely starters in the practices that I have seen. He's got good ball skills, stands pretty strong on the ball and has a good outside shot.He does get the start due to injuries though. Had Julius James or Rich Balchan been healthy, Urso would have been relegated to the bench.
- Tony Tchani seems to have gotten over whatever the issues were that he was having in the beginning of training camp and has rounded in to his role in the midfield. He had good Carolina Cup appearances, though he was called for a lot of fouls.
- I really don't know how much time Duka gets to play in the first game. He has missed most of training camp because of national team duty, which probably helped him stay very sharp during the off-season. However, how does that translate into how he gels back in to the team with the possibility of 4 players on his side of the field that he has never played with before. Don't be surprised to see Duka only play one half and Ethan Finley coming in at some point in the second. However, if Duka is showing sharpness, ball control and good crosses, Warzycha will probably leave him in.
- First Subs off the bench will probably be (in no particular order): Ethan Finlay - Olman Vargas - Eric Gehrig
- The weather forecast for Commerce City, Co (home of Dick's Sporting Goods Park) is calling for a mostly sunny day with a high of 50 degrees. The team will travel to Colorado approximately 24 hours before the game.