PREVIEW: Crew vs. Earthquakes
Making its 2013 home debut on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes (FOX Sports Ohio/5:30 p.m. ET), the Crew will look to eliminate the miscues that led to last week's loss in Vancouver. Improving communication in all areas of play will be key in eliminating those mistakes.
"You're going to lose the ball in midfield a lot of times, that doesn't mean it has to lead to a goal," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. "There needs to be better communication all over the field, not only in the back between the goalie and defenders, but we also need better communication between midfielders and forwards. We're doing a lot of things well. Hopefully we can improve and do better against other teams."
With so many new players in the fold to begin the 2013 season, mistakes are often involved in the process of meshing new additions with veterans.
"As the season progresses, we're hoping to improve on our communication and continuity," offseason acquisition Tyson Wahl said.
"This is just the third game of the season, so I think teams around the League are having these kinds of problems with miscues. We're just hoping to limit them and go from there."
WAHL FINDS HOME AT LEFTBACK
Overshadowed by some of the Crew's higher profile signings the offseason, Tyson Wahl has emerged as a key contributor for the Black & Gold at leftback. Slipping through the cracks of the Re-Entry process this offseason, Wahl signed with the Crew in January and has made himself at home along the backline in Columbus after spending 2012 split between the Montreal Impact and Colorado Rapids.
"I came in with a pretty open mindset," Wahl said on Thursday. "Obviously, I left Colorado and I signed here in December. We've signed a couple other left-footed defenders. I had to be open-minded. I'm just trying to improve every day and make the most of every opportunity."
"[Wahl] is an experienced player," Warzycha added. "We knew what we were getting and we knew he was a good player. He's keeping his spot because he's doing well on the left side."
While fellow offseason additions Gláuber, Agustín Viana and Matías Sánchez garnered more media attention when they joined the Crew, Wahl's signing made few headlines. Wahl was a solid contributor for the then-Kansas City Wizards and Seattle Sounders FC before being picked up by the Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
"I think Tyson should've been heralded," Wahl's teammate Danny O'Rourke pointed out. "I think this League has it backwards sometimes when you start heralding foreign players that come in and you don't really give any clout to the hard-working American guys. I think Tyson came in, didn't really say much and he's been playing pretty effectively. I think the League needs to start recognizing that."
GAVEN'S STATUS UNCLEAR
A stalwart in the Crew midfield, Eddie Gaven missed his first match since September 2011 when he sat out last week's loss in Vancouver with an ankle injury. Gaven jogged and took part in drills on the side at training this week, but his status for Saturday's match remains in question.
"[Gaven] was jogging today, so I'll check in the locker room to see how he felt," Warzycha said after Thursday's training session at Crew Stadium. "I'm sure knowing Eddie, he would love to play, but would that be a smart thing to do? I don't know. I'll have to ask the doctors."
Homegrown winger Ben Speas filled in for Gaven in Vancouver, picking up his first career assist in the match.
Whether it's Gaven or Speas who starts in front of Wahl on the left side of midfield on Saturday against San Jose, the Crew shouldn't miss a beat.
"[Gaven and Speas] are actually really similar, I think," the veteran leftback said. "I think Ben is like a young version of Eddie maybe, although Eddie was like 12 when he came into the League so he's not that young of a version. They're very similar players. Benny is super-skillful, good on the ball and good with possession. I can't see very many differences in their play."
Added Warzycha: "I think they're both good players. They're both opportunistic, both can score goals and have assists. I think they're both similar."