Crew ready for seven matches in three weeks
All season long, the Crew has leaned on its many games in hand as its hope to reach the playoffs for a fifth straight season. With seven matches coming in the next 21 days, the Black & Gold will be even on games played with the Eastern Conference leaders when the stretch ends in New England on September 5. Four of the seven matches will be played at Crew Stadium, helping in the club's push for the postseason.
"We have to have a positive three weeks. We need to win some games," head coach Robert Warzycha said following Monday's training session in Obetz. "The race is on. We have some games here at home that we're going to have to take most [of the points]."
"There are a lot points coming up, a lot of games," added veteran center back Carlos Mendes. "It's one game at a time. We can't get overwhelmed by how many games we have."
The seven match stretch kicks off Wendesday night against defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy, who visits Columbus on the heels of a 4-0 dismantling of Chivas USA on Sunday night. During the three week span, the Crew will travel to Houston, Philadelphia, and New England, while hosting Toronto FC, the Revolution, and Montreal Impact. Points against the Galaxy and Dynamo will provide the groundwork in building confidence for the remaining matches against teams in the East with a lower points per game average than the Crew.
"Hopefully, we can get a couple wins early and take momentum to ease the pressure a bit in the final five or six games," winger Justin Meram explained. "This team, we step up to the big dogs. Look at San Jose on the road, Seattle on the road, and Real Salt Lake: against the top-level teams in the league, we get results."
With training sessions few and far between over the next weeks, Robert Warzycha will be wary of fatigue among his players. However, the Crew skipper doesn't expect large overhauls in his lineup from game-to-game.
"When you have a game every three days or so, there's not going to be a lot of practice," Warzycha explained. "The guys are fit and I'm going to try to be as consistent as possible [with the lineup]. I'm not looking for big changes from game-to-game, but when we see the guys fatigued and the guys need rest, we're going to give them rest."
"I just take it one game at a time. You can't really predict how you're going to feel or how the team is going to feel after each game," Mendes echoed. "We have a deep team with a lot of good players. We will probably use everyone. Everybody needs to be ready to be called upon. We're excited, we need to get points."
Warzycha added to Mendes' point regarding the team's depth and also stated that younger players may be counted on during this crucial stretch.
"We have a pretty decent, good squad," he said. "The younger guys have played some First Team games, so they're ready and I think their anxious to be on the field."
Nonetheless, the team is confident and Meram has an idea of how the Crew will fare during the August stretch.
"I'm confident," he said. "I've got a number I think we're going to reach in these seven games."
"I think we're going to do alright, [winning] better than sixty-percent [of the matches]," he finished. "I'll tell you that much."