for this game

Crew-Sounders Preview

Apr 30, 2010 - 5:32 PM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Columbus (2-0-1) at Seattle (2-2-2), 10:30 p.m. EDT

Considering he won the 2008 MVP award and then doubled his goal total last season, opponents don't need to be reminded that Guillermo Barros Schelotto is the Columbus Crew's most dangerous offensive threat.

The Seattle Sounders may not have to worry about him.

Qwest Field's artificial surface has Columbus coach Robert Warzycha thinking about holding his aging star out of Saturday night's visit to Seattle, where the Crew try to extend their season-opening unbeaten streak to four.

Schelotto's seven goals and 19 assists earned him the league MVP in 2008 as Columbus (2-0-1) won its first MLS Cup, then he scored 14 goals in helping the Crew earn their second consecutive Supporters' Shield last season.

He's scored a goal in each match so far this season, including a penalty kick in the 38th minute last Saturday against Real Salt Lake, the only tally in Columbus' 1-0 victory over the team that upset it in the 2009 playoffs.

"Our goal is not to make the playoffs like some of the other clubs," Warzycha said. "Our goal is to win the Supporters' Shield."

With that in mind, Warzycha may be taking a calculated risk Saturday night against Seattle (2-2-2). The second-year coach, who took over when Sigi Schmid left to coach the Sounders after leading the Crew to the 2008 title, might opt to rest the 36-year-old Schelotto on Seattle's field turf surface.

"I haven't decided yet," Warzycha said Tuesday. "We have to find a way to make sure he doesn't get hurt in the middle of the season so he can play all season."

Schelotto, who came on in the 69th minute of Columbus' 1-1 draw at Seattle last season, says he wants to play but understands Warzycha's line of thought. The Crew only play one other game on an artificial surface, at New England on Sept. 25.

"I'm very happy about this," Schelotto said. "It's a good idea everyone is changing the turf for grass because soccer is supposed to be in the grass."

The Crew also have a recent history of playing well without their leader in the regular season. They're 9-0-0 and have outscored opponents 18-5 over the last two years when Schelotto has rested, and they're 1-1-1 when he's used as a reserve.

Schmid's club, meanwhile, is 1-2-2 in its second season in the league since an opening win over expansion Philadelphia.

The Sounders played to a 2-2 draw at Dallas on April 22, and faced a quick turnaround for Sunday's match at Toronto FC. Seattle felt it played well north of the border, but two second-half mistakes cost it in a 2-0 loss.

"You can make mistakes and that's part of the game, but with the two big mistakes we made, you will never win the game. It doesn't matter how good you play," midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said. "It's extremely disappointing that we're not winning when we play so well. Next time we won't make those mistakes and we'll win the game."

Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani each have two goals for Seattle, but if Schelotto doesn't play, the Crew could have trouble sneaking anything past Kasey Keller. Forward Steven Lenhart has yet to score, and defenders Chad Marshall (hamstring) and Gino Padula (knee) are doubtful to play.