Preview: Crew vs. Fire
Both the Crew and Chicago Fire will ride midweek wins into Saturday night's match at Crew Stadium (7:00PM EST/FOX Sports Ohio). Here are a few things to get you ready for the match:
HEAVY LEGS ALL AROUND
For Crew head coach Robert Warzycha and Fire skipper Frank Klopas, Saturday will be a chess match in putting out a lineup as both clubs will be playing their third match in a week's span. What's more, both coaches will need fresh bodies again on Tuesday as MLS teams open play in the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
"Obviously we have some tired legs," Warzycha said after training at Obetz on Friday. "We just have to figure out who can go for 90 minutes and put our best possible lineup in."
Eddie Gaven, Sebastian Miranda, Andy Gruenebaum, and Josh Williams each played 90 minutes in both San Jose and Seattle. All will likely be back in Warzycha's starting XI.
The Crew will be helped by a couple of fresh bodies as Chris Birchall and Ethan Finlay have been cleared to play.
If the Black & Gold can come out and strike in the first half against San Jose and Seattle, perhaps the team can reserve some energy during the second 45 minutes.
"We've got to take those three points and come out firing," Williams said.
"We have to attack first. I know it's our third game in a week, but if we jump on them early, hopefully we can get up on them and sit back a little bit, rest some legs, and let the ball do the work."
SLOWING DOWN ODURO
His Twitter handle says it all: Chicago's Dominic Oduro A.K.A "@Freakyfast8" is one of the quickest forwards in all of Major League Soccer. His four goals lead the Fire this season, and Crew center back Josh Williams will have the tough task of slowing down the speedy Ghanaian striker.
"I've watched (Oduro) run a couple of times.That guy can float," Williams said. "We've just got to talk a lot and keep him in front of us."
Williams faced a similar challenge Wednesday against the speed of Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero in Seattle, an experience that will surely pay off against Oduro and the Fire.
"When (Oduro) goes to take off, we've got to bump him," Williams explained. "I think I did a good job with that on Eddie Johnson. He ended up getting frustrated and my face paid the price for that. It's all about bumping him and knocking him off so he can't time up his runs. Carlos (Mendes) and I have to talk and the outside backs have to be aware of him."
The Crew is 2-0-2 over its last four matches after enduring a 0-1-3 slump over four games in April. Williams credits the Black & Gold's recent success to the Crew's depth and lockerroom chemistry.
"I've always said our depth is key and I think it's shown. We have a lot of our key guys out, but our young guys are stepping in and the play really hasn't fallen off," Williams said.
"In the locker room, you can see that everybody believes we can win. It doesn't matter who's playing. We believe in ourselves, we believe in the guys that are coming in," Williams continued. "We think we can go in against any team and take away three points."
During the rough stretch in April, things just weren't bouncing the Crew's way. Williams himself had a goal disallowed and another hit off the crossbar against the Houston Dynamo on April 21. Now, while the Black & Gold aren't getting many shots on frame, the Crew is making the most of the chances they do get.
"It feels like we're finally getting some bounces to go our way. We're scoring some nice goals," Williams said. "Although we're not getting many chances, but the good thing is that we're finishing our chances. That's always a good sign."