Getting away from it all was the best thing that could have happened to the Columbus Crew following a pounding at Seattle on Aug. 27.
Few players made the return flight to Columbus the next day because an open weekend on Sept. 2-3 enabled coach Robert Warzycha to give the team a week off to relax and reenergize. They needed it after the 6-2 defeat to the Sounders.
“I’ve forgotten about it,” captain Chad Marshall said Tuesday of the lopsided loss. “It was a like a perfect storm of everything that could go wrong, went wrong. There’s not much to take from it. It happens once in awhile. We’re totally looking ahead, moving on.”
Last week’s sabbatical did the team good.
“Guys are fresh,” Marshall said. “We needed the week. It was a long run up to that week. It was nice to rest some legs and nice to come out of the break and have a home game to try and get three points.”
The Crew (11-8-7) remain first in the Eastern Conference ahead of Saturday’s match vs. Toronto FC in Crew Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We’re doing as well as we can, but sometimes you have a bad game like we did in Seattle,” said Warzycha, who signed a multi-year extension last week. “Obviously, a lot of wrong things happened in the game. We talked about it already and we have to put it behind us.”
When Warzycha addressed the team, he was missing three starters away with their national teams.
Midfielder Robbie Rogers started for the US on Friday vs. Costa Rica and again on Tuesday in Belgium; midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo got his first cap Tuesday for Nigeria, coming on in the 70th minute against Argentina in Bangladesh; and defender Julius James went 90 minutes Friday in a win over Barbados and then another 90 in Tuesday’s game against Bermuda.
“Not having them here [for practice] is going to be a challenge, but that’s a reward for them for playing well with our team,” Warzycha said. “We’ll see when they come back how they feel and how many minutes they played before we decide for Toronto.”
On the mend
Midfielder Eddie Gaven, who injured his right leg Aug. 5 at Colorado, is expected to miss Saturday's match as well as the Sept. 14 game vs. Houston. He’s targeting the match vs. Philadelphia on Sept. 17 for his return.
Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum (broken thumb) jogged during Tuesday’s practice but did not put on the gloves. Meanwhile, third-stringer Alex Riggs suffered a concussion in training on Monday and MLS emergency ‘keeper Chris Konopka has been summoned.
Konopka played in the US Open Cup match on June 28 against Richmond when Gruenebaum received a red card.
On the positive side, defenders Danny O’Rourke (knee) and Shaun Francis (adductor strain) should be available Saturday.