COLUMBUS, Ohio – Crew manager Robert Warzycha confirmed on Friday that he has already decided which forward will partner with Guillermo Barros Schelotto on Saturday afternoon in the second leg against the Colorado Rapids. (Sat., 1 p.m. ET, TeleFutura)
Although Warzycha is not revealing names, speculation has it that Peruvian Andrés “El Condor” Mendoza will be the one given the start.
The move could prove a risky one given that the 32-year-old ex-Peruvian international has only started one MLS regular season match since his arrival in September. That start – a 2-0 loss in Chicago – was also the lone occasion in 2010 that the South American duo of Schelotto and Mendoza has been paired up from the opening whistle.
“We got Mendoza with probably 10 games [left in the season],” Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s not enough time to let these two guys gel a little bit and play.”
Outside of their game together at Toyota Park on October 8, Schelotto and Mendoza have been on the field at the same time for a grand total of 96 minutes in league play.
“Little by little we understand each other better,” Mendoza said of his on-field understanding with Schelotto. “Unless you have time playing together, it’s very difficult. But Guillermo is a great player and to play alongside him we will have goal chances and opportunities.”
After a week in which Schelotto has been in the press on a daily basis to address his starting role and his future with the club, the Argentine did not speak to reporters on Friday.
Warzycha, who confirmed Schelotto’s place in the starting XI earlier this week, has shuffled his forward line at different times this season. In the first leg against the Rapids last week, he brought on Mendoza with Jason Garey in a double substitution to replace Steve Lenhart and Schelotto, who offered very little in attack for Columbus.
The switch changed the complexion of the final 20 minutes of the match, although it still ended in a 1-0 Crew loss.
“Some guys know they’re going to play and other guys have to compete and show the coach that they’re ready to play,” Warzycha said. “We’re always going to choose the best combination, what’s best for the team.”
“I am prepared,” Mendoza said. “I feel good. … We have worked all week to get a good result on Saturday. The team is eager for this game. Tomorrow we’re at home and we have to make it count and get a victory.”