OBETZ, Ohio – Robert Warzycha is no different than most coaches in giving the standard “one game at a time” line, but the CONCACAF Champions League offers a different perspective.
The Crew head coach is looking ahead to the remaining five matches of Group B play starting Tuesday against Santos Laguna in Torreón, Mexico, as well as Saturday’s key MLS match against FC Dallas.
With an eye on the latter, Guillermo Barros Schelotto was left at home and defenders Chad Marshall and Danny O’Rourke, who has a stiff back, were also not expected to travel to Mexico.
Several other regulars will not play against Santos, although players some went to fill out the bench.
“It’s an important tournament but we also need to do well in the league,” midfielder Brian Carroll said. “We’re going to need everybody’s contributions.”
[inline_node:316548]Captain Frankie Hejduk should be on the field in Mexico after receiving a yellow card last Saturday against that pushed him over the caution-points limit and will force him to miss the next league game.
Warzycha can take the risk with an altered lineup after an opening round home win over Guatemala’s Municipal last week.
“If you win the games at home and tie one on the road you’re in the next round,” he said. “We have three [points] already and we’re going to try to get some somewhere else.”
The Crew went 2-2-2 last year and finished second in their group to Cruz Azul to advance to the quarterfinals. Their lone home loss was to the Mexican side, but that was negated by a win in Costa Rica vs. Saprissa and a tie in the final match at the Puerto Rico Islanders.
That’s why if the Crew can hold service at home, a good result in Mexico isn’t necessarily critical.
“We play to win, but if you settle for a point down there it would definitely be great,” Warzycha said. “They’re a very good Mexican team.”
WEEK AHEAD – Saturday's home match between the Hunt Sports Group teams will have added meaning because a statue of Crew founder Lamar Hunt will be unveiled in a ceremony prior to the game in “The House That Lamar Built.”
Also, the annual preseason Pioneer Cup match is expected to be elevated into a regular-season series for the trophy.
A NUMBER OF THINGS – With his third successful penalty kick of the season vs. the Rapids, Schelotto moved past current FC Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham into second on the Crew career list with eight. Brian McBride had 11. …
Steven Lenhart’s goal in the 80th minute against Colorado was the Crew’s league-best 10th in the final 15 minutes. Colorado yielded one in the last 15 minutes for only the second time, the fewest in MLS.