COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Crew were among the “have-nots” when it came to the Designated Player signing frenzy this summer, yet they have managed to stay in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield.
Now, the Crew and Real Salt Lake are definitely among the “haves” when looking at the remaining schedules of the contenders.
They have played two Champions League matches this month and have four more between now and the end of the MLS regular season on Oct. 24. Plus, the Crew have a US Open Cup semifinal Wednesday at D.C. United that could lead to the title game in early October.
While RSL and the Crew play numerous midweek games and travel out of the country, the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas can concentrate on their MLS games without distractions.
The Galaxy’s 43 points are two better than Columbus and RSL are another point back. New York and FCD have 37, but the order could change dramatically. For example, last week’s Champions League games may have taken their toll.
The Crew and RSL lost in Mexico, and Toronto FC were defeated in Panama during the week. Saturday, the Crew tied visiting FC Dallas 0-0, and RSL and Toronto also drew scoreless in Canada. Seattle had the luxury of a CCL home game and beat the Chicago Fire in an MLS game at Qwest field.
“Because of injuries and the game in Mexico, it took a lot out of the players, the traveling,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said of the Crew.
Columbus benefitted from not competing in any tournaments in 2008 and lost just one of its last 15 games to win the MLS Cup. Compare that to last season when, after their first foray into the Champions League, they lost five of the final six, four by 1-0 scores.
UP THE ANTE
FC Dallas and the Crew have a natural rivalry as Hunt Sports Group operates both teams.
They’ve played a preseason game called the Pioneer Cup to honor the late Crew founder Lamar Hunt, but the stakes may get higher next year if it becomes an in-season competition, a la the Crew's Trillium Cup vs. Toronto FC and FCD’s Brimstone Cup vs. Chicago.
“It’s something that has merit,” said Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group. “It occurred since we are playing each other in a home-and-away series every year that we can award the trophy in the context of that series.”
A NUMBER OF THINGS
The scoreless draw Saturday was the sixth for the Crew since 2007, but the first at Crew Stadium since the home opener that year vs. New York.
William Hesmer needs one shutout in the final eight games to match the team record of 10 set by him (2008) and Jon Busch (2004).
Crew coach Robert Warzycha’s take on FC Dallas extending their road unbeaten mark to 10 games to break the record held by Columbus and Chicago:
“If we wanted to keep [the record] then we should start a streak of our own. Maybe that’s the motivation we need.”
The Crew are 3-3-4 on the road.