For the first time this season, Robert Warzycha and the Crew will have the benefit of preparing for a familiar opponent as the Black & Gold faces the Chicago Fire for the second time in the span of a month.
"We know basically everything, whether we've played them once or twice," the Crew skipper explained after Thursday's trianing session in Obetz. "We see a lot of their games on TV and we try to pick up on something from their latest game, maybe some tendencies from set pieces or we see different players on the field because of injuries or the coach's decision. They're playing at home and I'm sure they will play differently than they played here. It's going to be a tough game for us."
"It makes it a little easier, because we've already seen them play," veteran Eddie Gaven admitted. "There are always new things we're going to try to focus on as we prepare for the game, but hopefully it will be easier this time because we played them three or four weeks ago. We definitely know each other very well, it should be a little bit easier to prepare."
Ten times this season, the Fire has conceded the first goal in its 14 total matches. In those ten matches, Chicago has a 3-5-2 record.
Just like it did on May 26 with Gaven's ninth minute strike, the Crew will look to exploit that statistic in an effort to extend its unbeaten streak to seven games.
"It's going to be very important to come out strong this game," Gaven said. "We did it last game at home and it was huge for us to be able to go up 2-0 at half. It's going to be hot again, so the sooner we can get balls in the back of the net, I think the easier it's going to make the game for us."
Kevan George, who made his first career start against the Fire four weeks ago agreed.
"It will be really, really important to emulate that performance just exactly as we did at home, very fast and try to put them under pressure right away," the rookie midfielder echoed. "I know it will be tough because it's an away game and they will feel like they deserve something, but we want to come out fast and stay very sound defensively as we have in the last couple of games and try to get a result."
George could make his third consecutive start as Danny O'Rourke remains sidelined with an ankle injury. George has meshed well in the Crew midfield after replacing O'Rourke midway through the Black & Gold's match in Seattle on May 23.
"(George) is a good player. He's fitting right in," Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said of the Trinidad & Tobago native. "He has a physical presence on the field. I think he's done well. The fact that it's his rookie year and we're playing against good opposition, I think he's doing well."
"I think I've integrated pretty well," George added. "The guys have helped me a lot. When the whistle blows, you just start playing. You don't think about the surroundings, you tune it out and do your job."