After spending the majority of the past month away from Columbus for preseason training, the Crew will now embark on a 10-day West Coast road trip to kick off the 2013 regular season against Chivas USA (10:30 p.m. ET/FOX Sports Ohio) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. While playing on the road is nothing new for the Black & Gold, the regular season will bring an added importance this weekend.
"We've been on the road for a while, we spent the whole preseason on the road more or less playing at the Disney tournament," defender Tyson Wahl explained. "Now it's just a little bit more pressure in the games. I don't think we'll mind going to California and spending some time in the warm weather."
Just like the 2012 season, the Black & Gold begin their campaign away from the comfort of Crew Stadium. Unlike last season's 2-0 loss in the opener at Colorado, the Crew would like to leave the Home Depot Center with a point or three in-hand on Saturday night.
"Three points now are the same as three points at the end of the season," veteran Chad Marshall explained. "It's important for us to start the season on the right foot. We're looking to start it off the right way on Saturday."
"It's really hard to go out and play the first two games on the road, but it's all part of the game," added midfielder Dominic Oduro. "It's nothing new. We just have to stay disciplined, stay focused and just go out there and hopefully get some points on the road before we come home."
The Crew's first home match comes on March 16 against defending Supporters' Shield winners, the San Jose Earthquakes.
GLÁUBER, MARSHALL BUILDING CHEMISTRY IN THE MIDDLE
As Head Coach Robert Warzycha alluded to earlier in the week, he will count on the new centerback tandem of Gláuber and Chad Marshall to make Chivas USA forward Juan Agudelo's life "miserable" on Saturday evening. Gláuber and Marshall, each standing 6-foot-4, have built a formidable partnership over the past few weeks of preseason to allow just 3 goals in four matches together.
"I feel really good because we've played some games," Gláuber said. "I'm happy because we talk so much and we've started to work well together. I think in the first and second game of preseason, we made a perfect combination. We make a really good tandem."
The Brazilian brings Bundesliga and Europa League experience to compliment Marshall's two MLS Defender of the Year awards. Together, both players have started to learn each other's tendencies.
"We talk a lot, both on and off the field about what he likes to do in different situations and what I like to do," Marshall said. "I think we have a good understanding of each other. Obviously, it was just the preseason and there will be growing pains along the way, but I think we have a good understanding of what each other likes to do."
The Crew outscored professional opponents 11-6 in the preseason as it looks to carry over that success into the regular season.
ODURO: THE FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Known for his speed, offseason acquisition Dominic Oduro brings 33 goals and 17 assists in nine MLS seasons to the Crew. Featuring primarily on the right side of midfield during the preseason, the Ghanaian is still getting accustomed to his new attack mates in Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuaín and Jairo Arrieta.
"[The chemistry] is coming along," Oduro said Thursday. "It's not 100-percent, but every day we're trying to make something happen, which is really positive. We've got to keep that mentality going forward. Once we get it right, we should have that factor clicking. Once we get it going, that momentum will carry us forward."
"It will be huge to get [Oduro] the ball when we can, let him run and use his very, very fast pace to go at guys," Gaven added. "It's only going to make us better, so hopefully we can find him and get him the ball."
Partnering with one of the League's top playmakers in Higuaín, Oduro believes it's only a matter of time before he and the 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year begin combining to produce goals for the Black & Gold.
"[Higuaín] can find you anywhere on the field, it's just a matter of finding the right moment to pick your head up and make that eye contact, that communication for him to play that ball," Oduro explained. "In the preseason it did work a little bit, but we still have a long way to go. It's still a work in progress. We talk a lot off the field and that's been really good, so at least we know how to communicate and when to go when we're on the field."
Head Coach Robert Warzycha doesn't see Oduro's transition period taking long. However, the Head Coach still hasn't quite figured out how to utilize the Ghanaian's lightning fast pace.
"Everybody has to be on the same page and obviously Dominic is our newest addition in the attack," Warzycha said. "He's been in the League for a long, long time, so I think the adjustment period shouldn't be that long."
The Head Coach finished: "Having speed is always good. The question is, 'How can we use his speed?' With Dominic playing with us a few times in preseason, we know he can run and get behind the defense. I think we have to use that as an advantage."