After a three-match unbeaten streak (0-0-3) was followed by a pair of losses, the Columbus Crew is anxious to get back in the win column. A return to Columbus Crew Stadium to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel) might be the boost the Crew needs to do just that, particularly after a grueling road trip that featured two matches in four days.
“We’ll be coming home, so we’ll have a little more energy, hopefully, that we’re playing in front of our home fans,” said midfielder Ethan Finlay. “I give that advantage to us, hopefully, but we’ll see come Saturday.”
The Crew has Wil Trapp back and available for selection ahead of Saturday's match. Columbus understands the importance of defending its home field, and with a 1-1-2 record at Crew Stadium through April, Finlay admitted that his team has not gotten off to an optimal start in the Capital City.
“You don’t want to drop points at home, and with the tie [against New York], that was a little bit tough. Coming back home, it’s important for us to get three points, and we look forward to doing that Saturday.”
Columbus is 2-2-0 all-time against Vancouver (3-2-4, 13 points), which enters this clash not having played an MLS match since last Saturday, but that didn’t mean they were idle. Whitecaps FC traveled to BMO Field on Wednesday to face Toronto FC in the first leg of an Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, falling to the Reds by a 2-1 final. Finlay acknowledges that the midweek matches played by both sides make for a “fair playing field,” but also cautions that Vancouver has plenty of quality that will be ready to go.
“They have some good players that they brought in, and they have dangerous guys, like Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks. They’re a really good team … They’re a team that you have to watch for, they have a lot of pieces going forward, and it will be a tough test.”
Manneh, who scored in stoppage time in the Canadian Championship match, is tied for the Vancouver lead in MLS goals (three) with Pedro Morales.
Vancouver is without Kenny Miller, who had his contract mutually terminated earlier in the week. Whitecaps FC has options on how to replace him moving forward, including carving out a permanent spot for Manneh, who has started in three of Vancouver's previous four MLS matches, or featuring Erik Hurtado more regularly. Vancouver selected Manneh and Hurtado back-to-back in the First Round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, and they, along with Mattocks (whose availability is uncertain after leaving last Saturday's match early with a hamstring injury), form the future of Vancouver's young attack.
Columbus’ future, meanwhile, includes two out of the next three matches at home—a place where the Crew is eager to play well and snap its skid.
"We want to have some happy faces on our face, as well as for the fans out there," said Dominic Oduro.
"We’ll rest, go back, watch the game, fix stuff, and get ready for Saturday.”