New England Soccer Today

Parkhurst: Revs-Crew Will Be ‘Entertaining’

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

One of the most intriguing matchups of the MLS conference semifinals will kick-off on Saturday at Crew Stadium as the Columbus Crew host the Revolution in the first leg. But don’t expect the lower-seeded hosts to show any apprehension heading into the contest.

Not only did Columbus beat the Revolution twice this year—both at home and at Gillette Stadium  —but they’re also in similar form. The Revolution may have won 9 of their last 11 regular season games, but the Crew have won eight in the same span. Moreover, Columbus hasn’t lost at home since early-August, making Crew Stadium a potentially tough venue to get a result for the surging Revolution.

“We are excited to play the Revolution,” Columbus defender Michael Parkhurst said via e-mail. “First, it kept us out of the play-in game, which we wanted to avoid. I think we match up well against one another, which is why all three games we played this year were tight, hard-fought games. It will be an entertaining matchup and we are confident that if we put in two strong performances we’ll be capable of advancing.”

The Revolution traded Parkhurst’s rights to the Crew during the off-season, enabling them to pick higher in the draft and pocketing some allocation cash in the process. To no one’s surprise, Parkhurst has been one of the factors in his team reaching the playoffs.

But they’ve had help from elsewhere, too. The rise of midfield players Tony Tchani, who anchors the midfield and has been one of the league’s best transition players, has given Columbus some bite in maintaining possession. Federico Higuain, the Argentinian scorer with silky-smooth skills and impeccable accuracy on set pieces, has played the role of poacher effectively.

It’s a combination and style similar to the Revolution, who use Jermaine Jones in the same position as Tchani and have seen a similar impact as Higuain from Lee Nguyen. Parkhurst and his teammates are aware of the similarities.

“They, like us, play attacking soccer with good combinations and passing leading to the final third,” he said.

This isn’t all a set-up for either a narrow, goal-starved contest. Nor does it appear that a lights-out, wide-open and high-scoring series is in the cards.  Rather, this series looks like a chess match on grass with both sides taking calculated risks to make gains.

The Crew know a lot about patience and adversity. They’ve had a strong, talented squad all season long, but stumbled through a winless drought early in the season. They pocketed only one win between the middle of April and the middle of July.

But Columbus knew wrongs would be righted if they kept at it. Sure enough, they caught fire down the stretch and on the final day of the regular season, they overtook conference powers Kansas City and New York for sole possession of third place.

“The turnaround has been a matter of putting everything together,” said Parkhurst. “When we went through a stretch of many winless games in the middle of the season we were out-possessed and sometimes dominated teams but were unable to generate enough scoring chances and or we didn’t finishing the ones we did create.

“We have stuck to our system and the belief in our ways and now at the right time of year we are seeing the results of 10 months of hard training and tactical work.”

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