Glauber

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 18 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – In league games, Ben Olsen’s team has not scored in the run of play since Kyle Porter knocked one in back on May 19. That’s six games without a goal that didn’t come from the penalty spot. Oh, my.

18. Chivas USA – Carlos Bocanegra’s first game could be July 12 at Philadelphia. (The former U.S. captain was signed Monday.) And Erick “Cubo” Torres may be en route, too. Are there signs of life here?

17. Toronto FC – The only good news from 1-0 loss at home to Real Salt Lake: Danny Koevermans got back into the starting lineup for the first time in almost 12 months.

16. San Jose Earthquakes – Are the Goonies back? A spirited three-goal rally in Saturday’s win over the Galaxy (3-2) before a packed Stanford Stadium has the look of one to build on.

15. Columbus – After an initial win, the Crew is now 0-2 since glue-man midfielder Eddie Gaven and center back Glauber fell to season-ending injuries.

14. Chicago Fire – Frank Klopas’ team had the weekend off and now prepare to face San Jose. Anyone remember the beauty Chris Rolfe scored against the Earthquakes last year?

13. LA Galaxy – Bruce Arena was understandably unhappy after his team blew a 2-0 lead. “I’m absolutely embarrassed at that performance,” he said. “It’s disgraceful”

12. Colorado Rapids – A comeback 4-3 win at Montreal is surely one of the best “Ws” in two years under manager Oscar Pareja. Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown keep building their Rookie of the Year cases.

11. Houston Dynamo – Another match, another day of bankrupt offense in the latest blanking, a 2-0 loss in New York. Perhaps Will Bruin’s departure for Gold Cup duty is a blessing in disguise, as a lineup adjustment can perhaps shake something loose.

10. New England Revolution – A 1-1 draw at Chivas USA puts the Revolution record at 3-1-3 since early May. Diego Fagundez got another assist in his ongoing, outstanding season.

9. New York Red Bulls – Finally, Fabian Espindola (pictured, above) got another goal! The former RSL man hit his first in more than two months in a 2-0 win over Houston.

8. Vancouver Whitecaps – After such a long run with very little success away from B.C. Place, Martin Rennie’s team has picked up points on four of its last five road matches. They team is 2-1-2 in that time – which is pretty darned good.

7. Philadelphia Union – Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath howled, feeling he was fouled on the sequence that led to Blas Perez’s late equalizer. But, uh … what in the world was he doing trying to catch that ball rather than aggressively punch it into next week?

6. Seattle Sounders – A big opportunity awaits Wednesday: With the weekend off to rest up, Sigi Schmid and his Sounders get a reeling D.C. United in town.

5. Sporting Kansas City – Kei Kamara made his case for Player of the Week with two very well-taken goals in a 3-2 win over Columbus. Makes you wonder why it took so long for him to get back into SKC’s starting 11 after returning from England.

4. Montreal Impact – A month after giving up three goals at home to Philadelphia, the Impact concedes four at home to Colorado (in a 4-3 loss). Those are sure warning signs that something isn’t quite right in the back.

3. FC Dallas – Another week, another white knuckle comeback. Blas Perez scored one in stoppage time that didn’t count. No matter … he scored another one, this one even deeper into injury time, and it counted as the equalizer in a 2-2 draw in Philadelphia.

2. Real Salt Lake – Tough personnel times are ahead as Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio will miss significant time while on Gold Cup duty.

1. Portland Timbers – The Timbers next chance to extend that showy unbeaten streak (now at 18 games in all competitions, 15 in league play) happens in Columbus this weekend.

MLS Preview: Columbus Crew at Sporting KC

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In a match with major mid-season implications for either side, Sporting KC will head to Columbus with an opportunity to muddy the waters further in the Eastern Conference.

With table-watching still a bit irrelevant as we reach the halfway point, both teams have something relatively important riding on this match.

For Sporting, they will look to improve on their spotty home form.  They’ve been fine on the road, but the dropped points at home have made this season that much harder for the squad, who’ve picked up just 2 points and netted just twice in their last three home matches.

It’s been a tough go recently for Kansas City both home and away, with just three draws and a loss to show for their last four matches. Much of that can be attributed to the losses of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, who will return from international duty for the trip to Columbus.  Zusi is fresh off signing his new contract extension with KC.

(MORE: Graham Zusi signs multiyear extension with Sporting KC)

It’s been a season of good not great for Sporting, with results there but also much left on the table.  That feeling was most evident their last time out, having taken a 2-goal lead on FC Dallas before before letting it slip away after falling a man down. While it’s typically a good result to get a point on the road at the league leaders, the manner of the defeat was more painful than anything.

In a bit of team news ahead of the match, Sporting KC have recalled striker Dom Dwyer from Orlando City FC.  The 22-year-old soared in the USL, exploding for 15 goals in just 13 matches during his spell with OCFC.  With the prospect of three matches in nine days as well as loss of C.J. Sapong to suspension and both Mechack Jerome and Peterson Joseph leaving early for Haiti Gold Cup duty, Peter Vermes thought it prudent to bring in the in-form Dwyer.

For Columbus, this match is the first of two tricky road ties, ones that give them the chance to not only gain ground on those above, but also to prove to the MLS community that the devastating injuries suffered in the last month can be overcome.

It will be their second match since Glauber became the second victim of an ACL tear on the Columbus squad this season.  Without the Brazilian or Eddie Gaven, the Crew crumbled at home to the red-hot Chicago Fire, conceding two goals in three minutes early in the second half.

All is not lost for Columbus, who are within close range of the table’s playoff sector and can take advantage of Sporting’s recent woes.  Federico Higuain is starting to find his real value as a set-up man rather than a goal-scorer, and his ability to strike from set pieces and particularly the penalty spot has been priceless.

Crew manager Robert Warzycha has a bit of a lineup decision to make.  Jairo Arrieta has returned from international duty with Costa Rica, so it remains to be seen who will play in front of Higuain – Arrieta, or his placeholder during international duty Dominic Oduro.  However, with Ben Speas also returning for selection from a bout with an illness, it remains to be seen who will be put up front and who will go out wide.  Oduro made himself very clear this week, saying how he believes he’s most effective up front.

With points for the taking, both teams will look to put recent inconsistencies behind them and grab the bull by the horns.

Crew see second player fall to ACL tear

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Having already watched midfield staple Eddie Gaven agonizingly drop with an torn anterior cruciate ligament just two weeks ago, the club will have to deal with another of the season-ending injuries.

The U.S. Open Cup claimed Glauber’s left knee as well, when the central defender went down in the 6th minute of their loss to the Chicago Fire.

An MRI Friday confirmed the ACL tear. Team doctor Dr. Pete Edwards said there was no damage to any other ligaments or knee structure.  He will have surgery in two weeks.

The Brazilian, just acquired in January, made 15 appearances for Columbus before the injury.  He was third on the team in minutes played during MLS matches with 1,169.

It will now be up to Eric Gehrig and Chad Marshall to hold down the central defense. Chad Barson and Josh Williams could also possibly move over from the left and right respectively to help in the middle.  Unfortunately, both Williams and Marshall are questionable Saturday’s match with Montreal.  If neither play, it would mean all four opening day defenders would be out of action.

Major League Soccer team previews: COLUMBUS CREW

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Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. MLS first kick is March 2.

No. 7 in the East is the Columbus Crew:

Significant additions and subtractions: Three important South Americans will help strengthen the Crew’s first XI. Brazilian center back Gláuber gives longtime Crew backline cop Chad Marshall a stronger partner.

New midfielders Matías Sánchez and Agustín Viana means solid roster holdovers like Tony Tchani or Danny O’Rourke are now in reserve roles rather than starting roles, which makes Columbus a stronger team.

The departures are notable not in their production around Crew Stadium, but because so much had been expected of players like midfielders Milovan Mirosevic and Dilly Duka, and forward Olman Vargas.

Duka left in a huff; he’s now with Chicago, which offered up speedy Dominic Oduro in exchange.

Rich Balchan, Julius James, Chris Birchall, Carlos Mendes and Sebastian Miranda were all starters at some point who had their options declined.  Also gone is William Hesmer, the longtime starter in Crew goal who has now retired.

Strengths: Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín were two of Major League Soccer’s top summer signings last year, in tandem generating 14 goals and 11 assists in 31 matches. Get that over an entire season and Columbus probably cruises into this year’s playoffs.

A new 4-2-3-1 look should give Higuain opportunity to “think” his way around the game, freer to freelance thanks to two defensive screeners behind him.

Generally, the roster is stronger, with a little less “average” spread around the field.

Under Warzycha, the team has always been well organized and tough to oppose. Arrieta and Higuain, plus underrated two-way man Eddie Gaven, provide the offense-defense balance that had been missing for some time in Ohio.

Pressure points: It’s time for manager Robert Warzycha to take a settled roster and move the team beyond makeover mode, where the Crew have hovered since 2010. The core is there to build around in Higuain, Arrieta, Marshall (still an above-average center back, now in his 10th professional season) and goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.

Speaking of Gruenebaum, the pressure may feel a little different this year. Last year he could ride in heroically as Hesmer’s replacement. Now, everyone expects Gruenebaum to don the super hero’s cape – and that’s a whole other level of pressure.

The soft spots are at outside back, on either side. There’s some talent, but one of the lesser tested types needs to put a stranglehold on the position. Also along the back line, strong as Marshall can be, remaining healthy and available tends to be an issue.

Is the club past all the emotional undertow from popular midfielder Kirk Urso’s shocking death in 2012? Who could blame them if difficult moments still linger? The rookie from the University of North Carolina died from complications of a heart defect on Aug. 5.source: Getty Images

Difference maker: Higuain was so productive over his initial 8-10 matches upon arrival in Ohio last year that he kicked up some league Most Valuable Player chatter. (Higuain did claim league Newcomer of the Year honors.)

An injury crunched the momentum and slowed the Crew’s creator for the season’s final month, tamping down a playoff push that had looked so promising through August and September. The Argentine attacker (pictured right) has all the technical tools, all the know-how and all the desire to be a premier MLS man, and to be everything that the beloved Guillermo Barros Schelotto was for so long around Crew Stadium.

Potential breakout player: Talented young attacker Justin Meram will presumably get his chances around Crew Stadium; Arrieta figures to miss quite a few matches (and probably need resting here and there) due to Costa Rican international duty in World Cup qualifiers and in this summer’s Gold Cup.

Bottom line: You have to look at Columbus as one of the truly interesting teams in 2013, if only for the tremendous potential of the Arrieta-Higuain combo. Crew president Mark McCullers is certainly optimistic, stopping just short of predicting an Eastern Conference and the MLS Cup final being played in Ohio. Honestly, on paper, it’s really not such a stretch.

(MORE: the entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)