We're All Going to Chicago

Chris GiffordContributor IJuly 10, 2009

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Chad Marshall #14 of the Columbus Crew yells in celebration to the 'Nordecke' fans after scoring a goal in the second half during the 2008 MLS Cup match at The Home Depot Center on November 23, 2008 in Carson, California. The Crew defeated the Red Bulls 3-1.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Tomorrow, the Crew take on the Fire. The game will be played at Chicago's Toyota park. That is commonly referred to as an away game, see, because the team that I support is playing away from home. Get it? And here's the kicker: I'm going to be there.

This, to me at least, is a big deal because it will be my first time watching the Crew dominate their opponent outside of Hunt Park (in person I mean, I've seen plenty of games on TV). There are somewhere between 50 and 500 Crew fans making the six hour trek through Dayton and across Indiana with the intent of embarrassing Section 8 on their own turf.

We made them come here to get destroyed last year, so we thought it would be considerate of us to let them stay home for the beat-down this time. We're nice guys like that.

In all seriousness though, this is going to be a battle of Eastern Conference titans, with one point and two goals separating first place Chicago from the third place Crew. This is going to be one helluva matchup for two reasons.

Reason number one: Guillermo Barros Schelotto is going to be out for blood. GBS is a beast, but he's never really had a breakout showing against Blanco and the Fire. He had a stellar game in last year's Conference Final, but has yet to showcase his scoring ability. He'll be looking to show the fans who is really the best player in MLS.

Reason number two: Chad Marshall is wreaking havoc in the Gold Cup. And there's a Gold Cup game in Boston on Saturday. So Chad will be in Boston. Do you know where Brian (Judas) McBride will be? Anywhere on our half of the field that he wants to be. In last year's Conference Final, Chad owned McBride, scoring the game winner over him and completely shutting him down on his offensive end.

This weekend, without Marshall Law roaming the back line, the Crew are going to need to depend on six-foot-nothing Danny O'Rourke and rookie starter Eric Brunner to hold off McBride, who has been referred to as the hardest working American soccer player. Ever. 

Someone might have the genius idea of putting Andy Iro in central defense, but Andy—as much as I love him—is only good for one half. That leaves 45 minutes of waiting for McBride to shoot and hoping that Will Hesmer has a stellar game between the pipes.

That being said, here's my official gut feeling about this game: No Problem.

It doens't matter if McBride and Blanco combine to score 10, Guillermo will net 11 by himself. And then assist on the 12th just to spread some wealth. I'm not worried. The Crew will not let me down, my first road trip will not end in defeat.

In Guillermo I Trust.