The middle third of the 2013 MLS Season has kicked into full effect as the Crew hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio) in a pivotal Eastern Conference showdown. Hoping to build momentum from last week's 2-0 statement victory against the East-leading Montreal Impact, the Black & Gold will carry positive energy into Saturday's rivalry match ahead of road tilts in Kansas City and Los Angeles and a home clash with Portland Timbers FC on July 7.
"We want to get three points in every single game we play," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said following Thursday's training session at Crew Stadium. "We want to play as well as we can. In some games, sometimes you have to be lucky. Obviously Kansas City, LA and Portland will be quick turnarounds and a lot of traveling. I'm hoping to have good results in those games."
Even with the difficult schedule looming, the Crew is not losing sight of the importance of Saturday's match with the Fire.
Said Goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum: "You can't really look ahead to Kansas City or LA when we have probably the biggest game of our season, in my opinion, this Saturday night."
Striker Jairo Arrieta returned to training with the Crew on Thursday following three matches of international duty with Costa Rica in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Though Arrieta is ready and available to play against Chicago on Saturday, it is unclear at this time what capacity -- if any -- he will serve in this weekend.
"I'm glad to be back with my teammates and I'm ready to play," the Costa Rican explained. "Physically, I'm ready to play. I'm feeling well. At this point, I'm just waiting for the coach's decision. I'm going to be respectful of that, but I'm ready to play.
"I'm hoping to be able to start on Saturday, but if that's not the case, I'm ready to come in off the bench and do as much as I can for the team."
Warzycha added: "I don't know what the game is going to bring, to be honest. He may start; he may come off the bench. We'll have to make the decision based on what is best for the team."
Arrieta has had to juggle club and country responsibilities throughout the early months of the season and will continue to do so. On Thursday, Arrieta confirmed he will re-join Costa Rica for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup following the Crew's match against Sporting Kansas City on June 29.
ANOR THRIVING ON THE RIGHT
Typically featuring on the left side of midfield in his first two seasons as a professional, Bernardo Anor made an impact in the Black & Gold attack playing on the right wing against the Impact last week. The left-footed Anor was able to cut inside from the right flank to create numerous chances in the Crew's victory.
"It's a good adjustment for me," the 25-year-old said. "Coming inside with my left foot, I have more options to provide for the team.
"I feel I can create more chances [on the right]. Hopefully more chances come this weekend."
Anor's placement on the right side is not an experiment, however, Head Coach Robert Warzycha explained.
"I put him on the right, because I knew it was going to work," Warzycha said. "I didn't put him over there without knowing it was going to work.
"I think he's using his strengths. He's physical; he has all the tools to be the best player. The game against Montreal, he showed he's a player we're looking to on the field."
Anor has built a good rapport with his fellow attackers Federico Higuaín, Dominic Oduro and Ben Speas through repititions in training this week. Anor hopes that chemistry can continue to flourish in the coming matches.
"When we are on the same page, I think we can be a great team," the Venezuelan said.
"It's easy to connect, it's fun to play soccer with all of them."