Crew hoping Mendoza jumpstarts lagging offense
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Don’t be surprised if the newest Crew player takes the field at some point Saturday in RFK Stadium.
Although Peruvian forward Andrés Mendoza finally received his International Transfer Certificate and was added to the roster Friday, he is no stranger to his teammates.
Mendoza, 32, has been training with the club for five weeks while awaiting a resolution of a dispute between himself and his Turkish club, Diyarbakirspor, over payments.
That matter was cleared up on Thursday, and Mendoza will wear the No. 10 jersey when the Crew face D.C. United in a rematch of Wednesday’s US Open Cup semifinal in which the Crew won 2-1.
“It’s good to have another player to put out there if we need,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “We have a lot of guys that are beaten up after Wednesday. We’ll see how they respond.”
The Crew did not look particularly crisp Wednesday, and needed nearly 30 minutes of playing with an extra man before getting the equalizer from Andy Iro in the 89th minute.
Prior to that, the Crew had been blanked in a CONCACAF Champions League match vs. Santos (although the Crew contends it had a goal unfairly disallowed) and played FC Dallas to a scoreless draw.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto had the winner against D.C. United on a penalty kick in the eighth minute of overtime, so the offense is clearly in need of a jump.
Mendoza, who scored 10 goals in 16 games for Mexico’s Mornacas Morelia in the 2008 Apertura and has seven goals in 44 national-team appearances since 1999, may be the choice out of necessity.
“He is a proven goal-scorer,” Warzycha said.
Forward Emilio Renteria (four goals) continues on national team-duty with Venezuela and Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo are injured. While the midfielders have combined for only one goal in MLS play, their pace on the flanks opens space for Schelotto and the other forwards and makes Eddie Gaven more effective on the other wing.
Another relatively new face may also contribute Saturday. Frenchman Leandre Griffit, who has played only 43 minutes in three league appearances since being signed May 13, may get a shot with center midfielder Adam Moffat suspended for the match.
“We have to replace Adam, and he’s one of the guys we are looking at,” Warzycha said.
In a another personnel matter, defender Kwaku Nyamekye has been approved for a work visa from his native Switzerland and could join the Crew next week, technical director Brian Bliss said.
Nyamekye would fill the 24th and final spot. The 2010 MLS SuperDraft pick trained with the Crew in June after he opted to finish getting his degree at Harvard before coming to Columbus.
The trade of defender Jed Zayner to D.C. United on Aug. 5 opened a slot for Nyamekye.