The Crew will look to avenge playoff losses in 2010 and 2011 on Saturday night as the Black & Gold welcome the Colorado Rapids to Crew Stadium (7:30 P.M. ET/FOX Sports Ohio). Though, the bitter taste of those playoff losses still lingers for some, the Crew knows it will be a much different Rapids side this time around.
Instead of dwelling on the two playoff losses, the Black & Gold find motivation in last week's loss against the New York Red Bulls
"It's a different time of year," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. "Obviously, we need points more than ever. I think having the game at home, especially after the loss against New York, that's the extra motivation."
"[Colorado] usually gives us a really tough game," midfielder Eddie Gaven added. "We know it's not going to be easy this weekend, for sure.
"At the end of the day, it will come down to us. If we can play the way we know how and we play with the energy we played with against D.C. at home and won 3-0, I think we'll be fine. Hopefully we can come out with the right mindset, play well and get three points."
After starting the first nine matches of the season in central midfield, Danny O'Rourke's status for Saturday's match remains in question after suffering a sprained ankle. While O'Rourke's veteran experience will be missed, the Crew is prepared to go on without him should he be sidelined against the Rapids.
"Danny's been playing great for us the last few games, so it will definitely be a huge loss if he's not able to go," Gaven said. "We have a very deep team and whoever comes into his role will be more than able to do the job and able to help us get three points."
Either Matías Sánchez, Kevan George or Konrad Warzycha would be the likely replacement if O'Rourke is unable to go. Though each player brings a different style to the field, Robert Warzycha is confident there will be no drop off in the midfield.
"It remains to be seen, but [George, Sánchez and Warzycha] are all different players but they all play central midfield," the Head Coach said. "They can all play the position."
No matter who fills out the Crew midfield, Warzycha would like to see improvement in the middle of the field against the Rapids. He cited both wins against D.C. United this season as examples of how he would like to see his midfielders to perform.
"I'd like my midfielders to player better," Warzycha admitted. "We all have to look at ourselves and say 'We have to have a better game than we did against New York.' I think both D.C. games are very close to what we want to be and how we want to play. If we can watch that game and see how the center midfielder played in that game, that's how we want to play."
FINLEY WAITING IN THE WINGS
Rookie forward Ryan Finley made his third career appearance last week against the Red Bulls, coming on in the late minutes as the Crew searched for an equalizer. Finley has shown well in Reserve matches this season, scoring in the last three games as he awaits more opportunities with the First Team.
The Notre Dame product has made it a priority to work with Assistant Coach Ricardo Iribarren after training sessions to continue to improve his game as a professional.
"Our training sessions are pretty high intensity. I've been lucky enough to do some extra work with Ricky on my finishing after practice," the rookie explained.
"I think as a professional, you have to take it upon yourself when you're not playing every week to keep fit and keep sharp. I think I've done a pretty good job of that by scoring some goals in Reserve games.Whenever I get in, trying to help the First Team, it's just an added bonus."
Sitting behind Jairo Arrieta on the Crew's depth chart at striker, Finley has looked to the Costa Rican as an example to model his game after. After all, who better to learn from than Arrieta? The Costa Rican led the Crew with nine goals last season while only making 18 appearances as a midseason signing for the Black & Gold.
"I think Jairo and I have pretty similar styles," Finley said. "I've tried to keep an eye on him and the way he moves and uses his body against bigger defenders. I've been able to get some tips from him and Ricky, so it's been a pretty good learning experience for me. I think it's really benefitted my game so far."
Impressed with his showing in Reserve matches so far, Robert Warzycha has no doubt Finley will be a contributor this season.
"[Rookie year] is a tough time I think for any player," Warzycha explained. "Young players, especially when they've played a lot in college, go to a professional team and see few minutes.
"I think [Finley] is doing well and sooner or later he's going to be counted on the field."