Soccer  > General Soccer  > Crew at crossroads at Group Stage midpoint
September 13, 2010, 05:32 PM
Round 3 of the Group Stage in the CONCACAF Champions League is the midway point of the group stage, a chance for teams to go a long way toward securing a spot in the quarterfinals. The Columbus Crew did that last year, as Major League Soccer's lone representative.

The Crew is again eyeing the knockout stage and Tuesday's home match against Joe Public is important in that aspect.

It won't be easy, though, as Columbus limps into the match. Midfielders Duncan Oughton, Leandre Griffit and Danny O'Rourke, as well as defender Gino Padula, didn't travel to Los Angeles, where the Crew fell to the league-leading Galaxy, 3-1, at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. And Robbie Rogers, who had surgery on his right knee on August 14, isn't likely to return to the field until the match against Municipal on September 29 at the earliest.

In a match that might have decided the Supporters Shield, awarded to the MLS regular season champion, Los Angeles defeated the Crew Saturday. The Galaxy, which welcomed superstar David Beckham back to the field, move three points ahead of Columbus for the overall lead.

Columbus also lost its last CONCACAF Champions League game, 1-0, to Group B leaders Santos Laguna. But the Crew, while not pleased, isn't overly concerned about two losses in their past four games.

"We know we can play much, much better," Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven told MLSsoccer.com. "It's not like all of a sudden we have to hit the panic button. We know we still have a very good team."

The Crew face a Joe Public squad that has one point from its first two group stage matches and are depleted ahead of Tuesday's match at Crew Stadium.

"We will be traveling to Columbus with a squad of 16 players because some of our guys have visa problems while others are suspended," Joe Public coach Derek Smith told the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian.

Kareem Young, Andre Toussaint, Andel Noray and Devon Jamerson, who is on loan from Ma Pau, have visa concerns, while Jevon Morris and Jason Springer are suspended.

Santos has maximum points from its first two matches and will head to Guatemala City to face a Municipal squad tied with Joe Public with one point from two matches and desperate for a result.

Santos is also enjoying fine form in the Mexican Apertura, its 15 points from seven matches tied with Monterrey atop Group 1. However on Saturday, the Guerreros were thrashed by Queretaro, 5-2, at La Corregidora.

Sergio Blanco struck for a second-half hat trick as the hosts scored four goals after the break. Cristian Benitez scored for Santos, which also benefitted from a 71st-minute own goal by Eder Nicolas Borelli.

Municipal, meanwhile, defeated Mictlan on a penalty by Guillermo Ramirez in the 65th minute Saturday at Estadio Mateo Flores. Los Rojos are atop the Guatemalan Apertura table with 16 points from eight matches.

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