COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Crew have several activities leading into Saturday’s home opener against New York, including an intra-squad “match” on the Statehouse lawn Wednesday and the popular fan forum at Crew Stadium on Thursday.
But for all the hype leading up to the first kick, the focus is on what the Crew will do next after a disjointed and sometimes bumbling 3-1 loss last Saturday at D.C. United in the first regular-season match of 2011.
The offseason was one of change for Columbus, and while it may take a while to put all the pieces together, no one expected a performance so poor that coach Robert Warzycha wondered if the team ever got off the bus at RFK Stadium.
“There were moments that there was only one team on the field and that was DC, especially in the second half when they got a couple of goals and we couldn’t respond,” he said.
[inline_node:326816]Midfielder Robbie Rogers, who came off the bench to score on a penalty long after the outcome had been decided, saw room for improvement.
“Defensively I thought the shape was pretty bad," he said. "The work rate was there, so that’s not a problem, but we need to work on everything offensively and defensively.”
What makes the loss more significant is there’s still a wait-and-see attitude among the Crew fans after numerous transactions.
“There were a lot of disgruntled people and if you can get off to a good start it would be a little, ‘See, I told you so’ type stuff,” technical director Brian Bliss said. “We’re in a business where we’re going to be criticized for any move we make. We just hope the fans are patient and see some of the improvements we’ve made with the draft picks and discovery picks we’ve brought in.
We’re playing a little bit differently, not necessarily better, but differently. We’re less predictable. It would be nice to go with three or four wins in the first seven games but we certainly don’t want to saddle the team with those responsibilities because it would be unfair.”
Team president and general manager Mark McCullers also preaches tolerance.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “Teams ebb and flow and you have to understand that. But everybody wants to get off to a good start because if you get off to a bad start everyone gets tight and the pressure begins to mount.”
Bliss said one result is too soon to determine if the moves that were made were the right ones.
“We’re always looking at other options but we need to wait and give these guys 10, 12 games to see where we might be deficient,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re not deficient anywhere and we won’t have to be sweating it out in the summer [transfer] window and trying to fix a hole.”
OPEN AND SHUT: The Crew dropped to 6-6-4 in season openers but losing the first game by multiple goals is nothing new. The last three times they’ve started 0-1 (2004 and ’06 were the others) they were beaten 3-1. There have also been 5-1, 2-0 and 1-0 losses.
They are 8-2-5 in home openers and are unbeaten in six (3-0-3).