Saturday, May 28, 2016

Expect Wonky Crew / RSL Tonight

The calendar turns to summer this weekend which means we enter the hinterlands of Major League Soccer. Copa America here, EURO 2016 there, a dash of International Champions Cup - and plain old friendlies dot schedules all across the 20 team league for the next three months.

Tonight's match between Columbus and Salt Lake (which happens to be the same day as the Champions League Final) is the perfect kick off of summer MLS action. Both teams will be missing key players, for various reasons, and both teams will have varying degrees of incentive to get a result.

All of this makes for a wonky match and many wonky matches to come until we lurch forward into Fall. All of this isn't bad, of course. From a competitive perspective, it can actually be a little more entertaining in that we'll get to see who has command over their rosters (just don't tell me this makes the league "better" or on track for one of the best leagues by 20-something).

Columbus has got the ball rolling on the summer wonk. In-fighting, international tournaments and injuries has Gregg Berhalter finally facing significant starting eleven changes after almost two and a half years of rock solid stability.

Most impacted by absent players will be the Crew defense. We saw last week the depth impact of a new roster signing wanting out when mid-field player Rodrigo Saravia had to come on at center back to replace injured Gaston Sauro.

From the looks of things, Saravia will have to play in the same role again today when they take on Salt Lake. He'll be joined by non-starters Hector Jimenez and Corey Ashe. That's a backline mix that might make Robert Warzycha nervous.

Thankfully for Columbus, the team they are taking on today isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut. The key for the Crew will be limiting quality looks to, like, zero if they want to win.

The wonky is here. Enjoy the fun, enjoy the chaos. Eat a hotdog and drink some beers. That's what sports is about right? It's summer pro soccer in the USA.


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