At press time, the Columbus Crew was preparing for a Wednesday match against the lowly San Jose Earthquakes. If Columbus failed to come out victorious against that bunch of patsies, the Crew's early-season struggles are more serious than anybody realized.

At press time, the Columbus Crew was preparing for a Wednesday match against the lowly San Jose Earthquakes. If Columbus failed to come out victorious against that bunch of patsies, the Crew's early-season struggles are more serious than anybody realized.

On the other hand, if the Crew did stumble in last night's match, the team was probably looking ahead to Saturday's showdown in Seattle, where they'll face the expansion Sounders and former Columbus skipper Sigi Schmid.

Schmid, who won Coach of the Year honors for his work in Columbus last season, has Seattle off to a superb start this year. At 4-2-4, they own second place in the Western Conference. Their attractive play has been reminiscent of the Crew squad that won an MLS Cup last year under his leadership.

Meanwhile, Columbus has struggled under new head coach Robert Warzycha. Despite controlling the pace of all but a few matches, the Crew is 1-2-6 because they can't hold onto a lead, nor can they break open the floodgates for more than one goal per match.

A third of the way into the MLS season, Schmid appears to have made the right decision by leaving Columbus while he was on top.

Crew players are staying coy and not saying much about Saturday's match. But the prospect of impressing their former coach has to weigh heavily in their minds, especially after watching his new steeds storm out of the gate so successfully.

Quick kicks

* Crew captain Frankie Hejduk has been called into U.S. national team training camp in advance of World Cup qualifying matches on June 3 and June 6. Although most players reported this week, Hejduk is staying with the Crew through Saturday's match at Seattle. He will miss the match at Kansas City on June 6, as will Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela) and Duncan Oughton (New Zealand).

* With Columbus failing to produce goals in high quantities, trade rumors are swirling around the likes of Robbie Rogers and Alejandro Moreno. So are suggestions for new formations to get Pat Noonan, Stephen Lenhart and other benched attackers in the game. The Dispatch reported that the Crew practiced with a 3-4-3 formation, but coach Robert Warzycha is reluctant to employ it as long as the Crew keeps scoring first.

* Defender Danny O'Rourke will be back in the lineup Saturday after serving a red-card suspension last night. That is, unless he is supplanted by fellow Columbus-area native Eric Brunner. The Ohio State grad is making a stronger case for himself with each outing.

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