Preview: Crew at Toronto FC
Despite losing its last two matches, both at home, the Crew remains a confident group as it heads to Toronto to kick off the 2013 edition of the Trillium Cup presented by Scotts (5:00 P.M. ET/FOX Sports Ohio). The Black & Gold's defense has allowed just five shots on goal in the past two matches against the New York Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids. Unfortunately for the Crew, three of those attempts hit the back of the net to leave the team empty handed in both contests.
Heading into a rivalry match against Toronto FC, the Black & Gold are sure they can turn things around on the road this weekend.
"Critical moments have been a key factor [in the past two losses]," Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum explained. "We have been so close to getting results, especially at home. It's just one letdown, or against Colorado when they had two shots on goal and unfortunately both of them went in. I'd rather get peppered and win 1-0. It's good that we're limiting shots, we just have to be better in critical moments whether it's defensively or in front of net on their side. We have to get the final pass or the final save."
The Crew 'keeper continued: "We still have confidence. We're going to come in with that confidence and show it on the field. Confidence has never been a problem."
Perhaps luck just hasn't been on the Crew's side in the past two games. Gruenebaum's save of the Red Bulls' Jonny Steele led to Tim Cahill's rebounded winner on May 4, while an unfortunate deflection off Josh Williams led to Rapids' Dillon Powers insurance tally last week.
The team has worked on fixing those costly errors this week in training.
"A couple times we've been unlucky, a couple times guys weren't in the right spots," Williams said. "We've got to step up and realize that people weren't in the right spots. We need to be accountable. In practice this week, we've worked on eliminating those mistakes."
WILLIAMS COMFORTABLE IN ANY ROLE
With Chad Marshall out due to a hamstring strain, it's likely that Josh Williams could from the right side of the defense to centerback. In that scenario, either Eric Gehrig, Chad Barson or Drew Beckie could play on the right.
"Obviously, you can't replace a guy like Chad," Williams said. "He's the best defender in the League, I've said that since I've been here. But whether it's Eric or Chad [Barson] that comes in, they can get the job done."
A backline of Williams, Marshall, Gláuber and Tyson Wahl have spent all but a few minutes together in front of Andy Gruenebaum in net thoughout the Black & Gold's first 10 matches of the season. With change coming, Gruenebaum does not anticipate a lack of chemistry against Toronto FC.
Various injuries to Crew backline last season has prepared the 'keeper for such occasions.
"Obviously, last year we dealt with [various injuries in the backline]," Gruenebaum said. "Now we're going to have to do the same thing. We have the depth to fill-in at any position, so we're going to do that. Whoever is on the field has to take responsibility and we'll get the job done as a team if everyone does his individual job.
"Whoever is on the field will do their job and hopefully we'll come away with a good result."