The Crew are less concerned about avenging last season’s playoff defeat to Colorado than making up for the last home game.
Colorado visit Crew Stadium on Sunday night (8 pm ET, MatchDay Live) for the first time since the Rapids claimed the two-game aggregate series on penalty kicks in November.
The Crew won the second leg 2-1 to even the goal total at two, but few seem to remember that because the Rapids went on to win the MLS Cup while the Crew exited in the first round for the second straight year.
Midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo is not thinking of that setback, but is instead focused on the 1-0 loss to Chicago on June 12 when the Crew disappointed their fans by not even registering a shot on a goal.
“I wouldn’t say we want revenge [against Colorado],” Ekpo said. “We’re just looking forward to the game and hopefully what happened the last home game against Chicago doesn’t repeat itself.”
The Crew rebounded from that defeat for their first road win of the season last Saturday, 2-0 vs. Houston.
Trying to win two in a row for the first time since defeating New York and Houston – on July 17 and 24 of 2010 - is paramount for coach Robert Warzycha.
“Any team that can win three, four, five games in a row can separate themselves from the group,” he said.
The Crew (5-4-6, 21 points) sit third in the Eastern Conference and with a win could move into first, depending on how Philadelphia and New York fare before they take the field for the last match of the weekend.
That’s why Warzycha prefers to look forward and not back to the 2010 postseason.
“Come on. What’s revenge?” he said. “You’d have to play revenge every game against every single team. We won 3-1 the previous time at home [vs. Colorado] and we won 2-1 here in the playoffs but lost the penalty shootout. They did better penalties. It’s not revenge."
“It’s a new season,” he added. “If you have to remember every single thing you did in the past, how are going to move on with your life? That’s why you’re playing this year. There’s new expectations. You have to take something positive from each game and go forward.”
Speaking of forwards, that’s likely where the game will be won or lost. Colorado’s Omar Cummings returned last week from an injury to reunite with Conor Casey for one of the top combos in the league.
The speedy Cummings assisted on both playoff goals last year, including the aggregate equalizer by Casey in the 84th minute of Game 2 to send the series to penalties.
“We have to make sure we know where they are in the box,” Warzycha said. “They produced a lot of goals last year and are going to try to do the same thing this year. Being a little more experienced because we played them four times last year, we know what they are capable of doing.”
Meanwhile, Warzycha is still awaiting the availability of forwards Jeff Cunningham and Emilio Renteria, who missed last week’s game because of injuries.
He could pair Tommy Heinemann and Andres Mendoza again, and it’s likely current MLS Player of the Week rookie Bernardo Anor will make his second straight start on the left flank.