Front line helping with defensive strategy
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The words might have been lost in translation because Venezuelan forward Emilio Renteria is still not comfortable answering questions in English.
But when asked twice through assistant coach Ricardo Iribarren how he would grade a Crew offense that has five goals in six games, the answer both times was a firm “A.”
Before Columbus fans clamoring for changes to the attack think Rentería is crazy, he offered an explanation.
“Although we’re not scoring too many goals, we are doing something else to help the team,” he said. “We’re getting shutouts and not letting the other teams possess the ball and giving them chances to score.”
Rentería added that the bottom line is winning and the Crew are unbeaten in five consecutive matches heading into Saturday’s home game against Vancouver (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live). Columbus have four shutouts during the undefeated stretch.
“Sometimes people don’t know what the coach asks for,” Rentería said. “Like I said before, we [forwards] are helping defensively or making runs for somebody else to score like Eddie Gaven did against Dallas or like [Andrés] Mendoza running to the near post at the end of the game at Toronto to open space for Tommy Heinemann to get a shot.
“These are little details that people don’t see,” he added. “That’s why I’m OK with what we’re doing.”
Coach Robert Warzycha acknowledged the grunt work being done by the midfielders and forwards is being overshadowed by the lack of scoring. The Crew are allowing only 9.17 shots per game, second-lowest in the league to New York (8.5).
“The one thing we are doing is we’re playing good, organized soccer defensively, but definitely I would love to see more goals,” Warzycha said. “Obviously that’s got to determine how we are going to grade our offense. If I win the next 30 games 1-0, I’d be fine. But you want to score more goals. The crowds want it. The people are happier [when they see goals], but sometimes that’s how it is.”
Midfielder Robbie Rogers, who leads the team with two goals, said the fact that chances have been coming is a good sign.
“We’re getting in great positions,” he said. “We had a lot of chances the last game [1-1 at Toronto FC]. Our finishing needs to be better in front of the goal. That will relieve a lot of pressure and make the game easier for us.”
Rentería doesn’t think the team is feeling the pressure to score.
“We are not going crazy about it because if we do, it will be worse,” he said.
Added Rogers: “People try to talk about something. They have nothing to talk about, so they try to put the pressure on the offense.”
A breakout could come against the Whitecaps, whose free-wheeling offensive style has left them open in the back. In seven games this season, Vancouver have allowed 12 goals.
Warzycha is less concerned about the opponents than what his squad is doing, and he was pleased by the offense after Thursday’s training in Crew Stadium.
“If I would have to grade it after today’s practice, I would give it an A-plus,” he said.