Despite owning possession 68-32 and outshooting Sporting Kansas City 16-8 back on July 14, Robert Warzycha wasn't happy with the Crew's performance in the 2-0 loss. Two costly miscues led to Sporting's only two shots on goals, both goals from Jacob Peterson and Teal Bunbury.
Warzycha hopes the Black & Gold will play more mature soccer on Saturday night in Kansas City to avenge the loss earlier in the month.
"Against good teams, you can't afford to make mistakes. You can't lose the ball in bad areas, because you know that good teams will punish you," the Crew head coach said after Thursday's training session in Obetz. "That game showed we can play against the best teams, but our game needs to be more mature."
"We've got to be focused for the whole 90 minutes," Captain Chad Marshall added. "We can't have those lapses. We need to finish our chances when they come. We had quite a few last time the last time we played them. Whether it was (SKC goalkeeper Jimmy) Nielsen making saves or us just not putting it on frame. We've got to be better."
Columbus is riding the confidence of a 1-0 victory over Eastern Conference rival D.C. United last week and a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Stoke City in an international friendly Tuesday night at Crew Stadium. Just like it did against D.C. and Stoke, it will take a team effort to leave Kansas City with three points.
"It comes down to the fact that the whole team is playing really well," forward Eddie Gaven complimented his teammates. "We've played very good team soccer. That means not just the guys up top, not just the guys in midfield, or the guys in the back. It means everybody playing as a team; holding onto the ball, trying to create chances as a team, and playing defense as a team. From that standpoint, it's been pretty good of late."
Offesnively, the blossoming partership of newcomer Jairo Arrieta and Gaven in the final-third, as well as Dilly Duka's return from injury, has given the Crew attack a much needed boost. Duka's presence and creativity on the field has taken opponents' attention off of Gaven and other Crew attackers. Columbus will look to exploit a Kansas City defense that will be without center back Aurelien Collin, who suffered a facial fracture in Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game.
"Sometimes (Duka) can draw two or three guys just because he is so quick on the ball. He's so shifty, that can definitely open up space for other guys to make runs through," Gaven explained. "Dilly definitely brings that creativity up top where he's able to take somebody on create some space and be able to hit a shot. He's been very sharp for us in there the past few games. We're going to need him because he's a very important part of our team."
Defensively, the Crew will again work to slow down the potent Kansas City attack of Bunbury ,Kei Kamara, and C.J. Sapong.
"(Sporting)'s got athletic guys, so we've got to be physical with them," Chad Marshall said. "We know they're big guys, they're speedy. We've got to be physical with them, and slow the pace of the game down. They like to get after you quickly with numbers"
"They're going to be playing at home. They're going to be dangerous, they create a lot of chances," Warzycha added. "The key to success is going to be good team defending."
The Crew has moved up to sixth place on the Eastern Conference table with 25 points in 18 games. Sporting Kansas City stands in second place on 37 points from 21 matches.