OBETZ, Ohio – Adam Moffat believes the perfect test for the Crew offense is one that opponents visiting Crew Stadium seldom dare.
“If a team came in and actually played and took the game to us, it would be to our benefit because it would then leave more space for us,” the Columbus midfielder said. “Teams know that so they come here and think, ‘OK, we’ll get the tie.’ If teams want to play, we’re willing to do that as well.”
With Guillermo Barros Schelotto orchestrating the movement from his withdrawn forward spot and speed on the flanks, the Crew have the third-best goals-per-game average in the league (1.42) despite being blanked in three of their past six matches.
Teams are clogging the midfield and trying to stymie the Crew’s possession game, particularly when they come to Columbus and play conservatively.
“Especially DC and with Chicago, it worked in our favor,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We found some breaks somehow, and we scored a goal; then it’s much easier to play because they have to open up.”
The Crew (8-2-4) have two wins and a 0-0 tie Saturday at Houston since play resumed after the World Cup break.
“More than anything the last two games, we were very patient,” Warzycha said. “You have to have players that are decent technically to have some composure.”
That resistance to cracking comes from having a group that has played a lot of matches together over the years. The next one is Wednesday when the Crew host Kansas City.
Warzycha may alter the starting 11 from Houston to rest a few regulars for Saturday’s showdown with New York. The Crew lead the Red Bulls by two points in the Eastern Conference.
His decisions are made easier knowing that there is little drop in talent from starter to bench player.
“Our depth is better and more tested and more proven now,” than in the past, said goalkeeper William Hesmer.
While the lineup may be different, the approach doesn’t waver.
“We’re capable of playing several different ways,” Moffat said. “Teams are coming in now almost setting in. It’s obviously harder if teams are bunkering, but we’re a fit team as well so we always know at the end of the game we’re going to possibly sneak something.”
Moffat doesn’t fault the visiting clubs. After all, the Crew have been known to temper the attack on occasion.
“We’re willing to muck it up,” Moffat said. “We know what it takes to get results this league. We’ve had a winning record the last couple of years.
“It makes a huge difference having the same guys around,” he added. “We battle for each other. We know each other’s strengths. We know that we can hold it together. We’re capable of doing good stuff and scoring goals.”
When teams look to disrupt the pace the Crew has an invaluable alternate way to score.
“We are good on set pieces,” Warzycha said. “We are making good runs and if we put in a good service we can hurt other teams. That’s what we’ve been doing. You are looking for one opening. If that happens and we take advantage of that the game will go our way.”