Following a three week span that included seven matches, the FIFA international break could not have come at a better time for the Columbus Crew. Robert Warzycha gave his team a few days off to regroup after last Wednesday's loss in New England.
"Not only physically, but mentally, I think [the break] was good for the guys," Warzycha explained. "Hopefully everybody used this weekend to regenerate and get ready for the challenge ahead."
The Crew players and staff went their separate ways over the weekend in order to relax and refocus on the rest of the season. For example, Warzycha spent time with his wife on a short vacation, Dilly Duka traveled home to New Jersey to see friends and family, while Eddie Gaven took his wife and son on a day trip to Cincinnati to catch a Reds game.
When Monday morning rolled around, the Crew returned to its training ground in Obetz rejuvenated and ready to work on its preparations for the New York Red Bulls this weekend.
"Coming here this morning, you see everyone happy and smiling everywhere," Duka said. "We definitely needed those three days to get away from the game and relax. Now we're back and re-focusing to get back at it."
"It was huge for us to have the break. It was a grind at times there during the last month," Gaven added. "It was nice to get the time off, get the legs back a little bit, and hopefully be fresh for the rest of the season."
Six of the Crew's final seven matches come against fellow Eastern Conference opponents, making each game that much more important as the Black & Gold currently holds the fifth and final playoff spot in the East.
"We're going to play the next few games as if they were playoff games," Duka explained. "We have to play the top teams in our conference, points-wise. Every game is a six point game. Especially against New York, they sit toward the top of the table. We're going into every game thinking it's a one game knockout."
"I think our fate is in our hands at this point," Gaven echoed. "We have to win our games, and we'll be fine. We can't worry about what all the other teams are going to do. We need to take care of our games and if we do that, we'll be fine in the end."