Crew View: After victory, it's back on the road
COLUMBUS – The Columbus Crew’s offense looks suddenly resurgent, and head coach Robert Warzycha knows why.
“We are less tired than we were before,” he said. “We’ve got a chance to practice at home, sleep in our own beds. That always helps. You could see the difference in Toronto and see the difference [Sunday], and obviously in Trinidad.”
After Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in the regular-season finale, the Crew had posted seven goals in three games in all competitions after scoring just twice in the previous four.
They followed a 2-2 tie at Toronto FC on Oct. 16 with a 4-1 thrashing of Trinidad’s Joe Public in the final CONCACAF Champions League group match before taking care of the Union.
Critics would contend those games came against MLS clubs that didn’t make the playoffs and a very weak Caribbean representative. But Columbus struggled against those types of teams until getting a break in the schedule two weeks ago.
With no games between Oct. 8 and 16, the Crew had their first full week of training in more than two months due to CCL, MLS and the US Open Cup fixture congestion.
“We knew that we weren’t playing bad these past five or six games but the ball wasn’t bouncing our way for some reason,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “We wanted to work hard from minute one to minute 90 [on Sunday] and make our own luck.”
Columbus may have gotten something else out of the victory, according to Warzycha.
“We wanted to get some momentum [into the playoffs], which I think we did.”
He’ll soon find out.
The Crew are not happy that they are forced to play for the third time in eight days when they open their two-game, aggregate goal Eastern Conference semifinal on Thursday at the Colorado Rapids.
FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy, the other two postseason qualifiers who had matches Sunday, don’t play until Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Columbus could use extra time to prepare for the Rapids’ high-scoring duo of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, who combined for 27 goals this season.
The Crew will train Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in Columbus before heading to Colorado. The round trip will bring the air miles total to 28,002 since going to Mexico on Aug. 23 for the first Champions League match.
Through Monday, the Crew had spent 33 of the past 64 days (52 percent) either traveling or on the road. Add 18 more days for the six home games and rest or recovery days before and after them and that leaves just 13 days of possible full training in the past two months.
“Not only is it being tired from the travel but we haven’t had time to do what we’ve wanted to do in practice,” Warzycha said.
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