With Emilio Rentería (suspension) and Bernardo Añor (injured) out of the mix, expect another round of lineup changes for the Columbus Crew when they take on D.C. United on Saturday (7:30 pm, watch LIVE online).
Rentería is suspended one match for a head butt, and Añor suffered a season-ending left knee injury after coach Robert Warzycha tabbed the former midfielder for his first career start at left back. He'd gotten the nod over Nemanja Vukovic in last week’s loss to Sporting Kansas City.
Warzycha might consider replacing Rentería with Olman Vargas (above) to form an all-Costa Rican front line with Jairo Arrieta, but Warzycha said Arrieta was “ineffective” in his 62-minute MLS debut against SKC.
“For him it’s finding out about our players, the league and the speed of play,” the coach said. “This week he actually did better [in training] than last week.”
Vargas, meanwhile, has not started the past seven matches.
“You’d think there’s more understanding because they played together for Saprissa and the national team,” Warzycha said. “They complement each other but they have to find a way to be successful on the field.”
Justin Meram, second on the team with three goals, is in the mix but he started in the midfield last week for the injured Milovan Mirosevic, who is not expected to be available vs. D.C. United because of an adductor strain.
Midfielder Dilly Duka, meanwhile, looked sharp in practice this week and appears fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
On the backline, Vukovic will take over for Anor while Josh Williams is likely to get a second consecutive game at right back over Sebastián Miranda, who had 50 straight starts until being benched last week.
“Of course it’s hard, but [Warzycha’s] the boss,” Miranda said. “I have to respect the decision and I have to work harder to show him I am prepared for the game.”
Warzycha has singled out the Chilean veteran as one who has underperformed this season.
“He is the guy that needs to play better,” he said.
Captain Chad Marshall will anchor the central defense and Carlos Mendes could return from an ankle sprain to be his partner. Julius James, also coming off injury, and Eric Gehrig, last week’s starter, will also be considered.
James teamed with Marshall last season but has had to overcome several injuries, as had Mendes, who was acquired from New York in the offseason.
He and James have combined to play only five matches for the Crew (6-7-4), losers of two straight and three of four.
“The reason we brought Julius and Mendes here was for stability so one of them could play with Chad,” Warzycha said. “For obvious reasons, we don’t have that luxury.”