Sánchez's suspension brings competition in Crew midfield
Though the Crew has welcomed the experience and tenacity that offseason signing Matías Sánchez brings to the Black & Gold midfield, the tenacity has come at a price. The Argentine will miss the club's upcoming match at Kansas City on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio) due to yellow card accumulation.
Sánchez's absence in the Crew lineup creates a competition within Robert Warzycha's team in training leading up to the weekend clash at Sporting Park. Kevan George, Tony Tchani, Agustín Viana and Konrad Warzycha are the leading candidates to start in place of Sánchez on Saturday.
"I think it's an opportunity for those guys to step in and play," Robert Warzycha said. "They're all very physical and [Sporting] brings pressure all game, so I hope someone can fill that spot."
Added Konrad Warzycha: "A little competition brings out the best in people, so it's good that there's three or four guys battling for a spot. In the end, it's the coach's decision. Whoever he picks, I hope it's the best choice."
George has primarily played at centerback this season, while Viana has missed the last two months with a hamstring injury. Robert Warzycha is hopeful the Chicago-born Uruguayan is able to go against Sporting.
"I think [Viana] can be ready for Saturday," the Head Coach noted. "He's coming back from injury, I think he's 100-percent. I hope he's ready to play. Obviously fitness can be an issue because he hasn't played a lot, but I think his ability to step on the field and be the best guy is there."
Should Robert Warzycha decide to go in a different direction, Tchani and Konrad Warzycha have each seen quality minutes in central midfield in both MLS and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play for the Crew this season. Tchani has made seven starts this season, though he hasn't appeared in the Black & Gold's last two matches.
The Cameroonian is hoping he can use this opportunity to earn back a spot in the lineup.
"Of course, it's frustrating [to be in and out of the starting lineup], but I don't have control of that," Tchani explained. "I just have to let the coaches make the decision. No matter what the decision is, I have to do my best and keep working hard.
"I have to keep my head up because I know it's not easy at times. Sometimes you're playing, sometimes you're not. You just have to be strong."
As for Konrad Warzycha, the offseason signing has made five appearances in League competition and started both of the Crew's Open Cup matches this season. The 24-year-old is hoping to earn his first career start in the near future.
"[Making the starting XI] is what I've been striving for," Warzycha said. "I feel like I'm getting close, it's only a matter of time. Hopefully, maybe this weekend will be the first one."
Warzycha's first start could be all the more memorable should it come in Kansas City.
Sporting drafted the former Ohio State Buckeye in the third round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, but released him in November 2012 after he only made one League appearance in two seasons with the club.
"Going back, it's my first time back to Kansas City. It means a lot," the midfielder admitted.
"There's definitely a little extra motivation for me."