Crew check baggage, want to rebound vs. SJ
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Even if the Crew wanted to wallow in misery after their first defeat of the season on Saturday against Los Angeles, there is little time to do so.
Columbus had a 45-minute training session Monday morning then flew to San Jose, where they will face the Earthquakes on Wednesday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Any baggage from losing 2-0 to Los Angeles in a game the Crew (6-1-2) dominated was checked at the gate.
“We’ll bounce back strong,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “We obviously knew we weren’t going to win every single game. It hurts because we were playing at home and we felt like we actually played pretty well.
“Getting right back on the field helps,” he said. “We know San Jose is a very good team and we’ll have to be ready for them.”
The Earthquakes (5-3-1) are happy to have a quick return as well following Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Toronto FC.
“They lost their last game, so I’m so sure they will try to rebuild the momentum,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
The schedule-maker did the Crew no favors on the two-game trip this week. The Crew play Saturday at Colorado, but would have preferred getting that game at mile-high altitude out of the way first instead of it being the back end of two games in four days.
“This will probably be our toughest road trip of the year,” Gaven said. “We’re going to need every single guy.”
If that’s the case, forward Sergio Herrera could finally see some significant playing time. The much-heralded signing of the Colombian scorer in February was followed by almost total inactivity; his lone appearance came May 8 in stoppage time against New England.
With the Crew scoring once in the past two games, it could be time to see what he can do. Emilio Renteria, who had a goal in the previous two games before the LA match, is also pushing for a starting spot at either at forward or in the midfield.
The Crew would prefer the games were swapped for another reason: After putting together their most precise and pressing attack of the season against the Galaxy – as evidenced by 21 shots and 15 corner kicks – the offense could be tempered by the field dimensions at San Jose.
At a listed 72 yards wide by 115 yards long, it is three yards narrower than Crew Stadium. Will it make no difference or will the Crew struggle like it did on the 70-yard by 110-yard surface of CommunityAmerica Ballpark before escaping with a 1-0 win against Kansas City on May 20?
“It could be another game like that,” Gaven said. “It wasn’t one of the prettiest games, but we were able to get a win.”
“It may be a little bit scrappy the way the pitch is [at San Jose],” midfielder Adam Moffat said. “We’re getting a lot better rhythm and that could break it up a bit.”
The Crew will once again be without injured defenders Frankie Hejduk and Danny O’Rourke, but the team proved to the Galaxy that it could mix it up without them.
“The physicality that Columbus brings is something that’s really challenging and, in sections of the game [Saturday], they overpowered us,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said afterward.
Yet, the Crew can do more than just throw their weight around. They outhustled Los Angeles and controlled every aspect except for two grievous breakdowns that the Galaxy pounced upon.
“They played with an incredible work rate and they really took the game to us,” LA defender Gregg Berhalter said.
The Crew seek to replicate the effort against San Jose but with a better result.
“It sucks that we lost and now we’re going on a two-game road trip,” Robbie Rogers said. “You kind of want to have the momentum going into the road trip. It will be a great test to see how we react against San Jose. It will be a huge game.”