COLUMBUS – The Columbus Crew’s motto of “Be Massive” is plastered in their media guide, on billboards and on banners. Based on the tentative performance in their season-opening 2-0 loss away to the Colorado Rapids, however, it seems that somehow the words must have been misread as “Be Passive.”
“Too many guys had bad games,” head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com. “We have a good combination of veterans and young players but at some point the players have got to click and they’ve got to get better.”
The Crew did, in fairness, have to make adjustments on the fly, inserting rookie Ethan Finlay after losing midfielder Dilly Duka to a hamstring injury in the 12th minute. That still doesn’t explain the number of 50-50 balls that were lost, or not moving play into dangerous areas.
“We need to come together,” forward Tommy Heinemann said. “We had a rough start. We can come together and start to get our shape more, start attacking more and going forward. We need to impose our will more.”
The Crew went with a lone striker in Emilio Renteria, and though he was ineffective on the day, the tepid play behind him offered little opportunity to get in scoring position.
With Finlay and fellow rookie midfielder Kirk Urso taking their MLS bows, the Crew’s best chances came off set pieces.
“We need to play more games,” Warzycha said. “They’re going to figure it out sooner or later.”
He doesn’t feel his team needs to abandon the 4-5-1 because, in reality, the Crew were using a formation not unlike Colorado’s 4-3-3 with Milovan Mirosevic and Eddie Gaven, who was hampered by a ankle injury, moving closer to Renteria.
“Everybody is playing that way,” Warzycha said. “We were trying to play the same way; three midfielders and three forwards.”
Not quite yet for Vargas
One player who might make be able to spark the Crew’s offense is Olman Vargas, who’s recently joined Columbus in his first season after playing in his native Costa Rica.
He came to camp coming off an injury and has been catching up in fitness as well adjusting to a new league.
Vargas played 23 minutes Saturday and returned to the field Monday to score twice in the reserves’ 2-2 draw with Notre Dame at Crew Stadium.
“He needs to get fit and he needs to play better; then he is going to be on the field just like everybody else,” Warzycha said. “He needs to find the ball and he needs to play better.”
The coach has seen some encouraging signs.
“He’s working so hard,” Warzycha said. “He always wants the ball. He always works, works. That’s good. Sooner or later he is going to be rewarded.”
Duka said he heard his hamstring snap during the game but an MRI revealed it’s a pull and he could be out for at least several weeks, costing him a call-up to the US U-23 team for Olympic qualifying.