Coming off a 1-0 victory in Toronto, the Black & Gold will draw on positives from their 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on May 4 as they prepare for a grudge match at Red Bull Arena on Sunday (5:00 P.M./FOX Sports Ohio,UniMás). Despite dropping a result at home in that match, the Crew executed its gameplan and created more chances than New York in the loss. The Black & Gold aim to bring the same pressure on the road this weekend.
"The positive that we take from [May 4's loss to the Red Bulls] is that we can compete with them," said defender Tyson Wahl. "They have a lot of big name players and they have a really good team, but I think we have to come out with confidence and take the game to them.
"We have to get in their end, and not just sit back and play defense the whole game. We have to put pressure on them and be aggressive, I think that's why we were successful for parts of that game."
Added Head Coach Robert Warzycha: "We have to be aggressive like we were in the first game, force turnovers and we need to be sharper in front of the goal."
The Crew out-shot the Red Bulls 15-7 earlier in the month, but it was an 80th-minute Tim Cahill header that lifted New York to the three points. A total 90-plus minutes of focus will be needed to earn a result on Sunday.
"We lost because of one big, game-changing play," Wahl explained. "If we want to be a top team and start moving up to the top of the table, I think we're going to have to be better in those game-changing moments.
"It's just 92, 93 or 94 minutes of focus, whether it's defending the game-changing play or scoring it: we need to be better."
The Red Bulls welcome the Crew in the midst of winning five of their last six matches dating back to April 27. Australian midfielder Tim Cahill has been an integral part of New York's recent success, scoring four goals in the past five games.
"[Cahill] is a good goalscorer and he's showing he's in the right place at the right time," Warzycha said. "We have to match his intensity."
"He is a great player with great experience," midfielder Tony Tchani said of Cahill. "Especially on headers, he's really good. I think we need to do a better job on cutting off his runs. He always makes those late runs and someone needs to be in that spot to stop his headers."
Though Tchani will share the responsibility of marking Cahill with Matías Sánchez in the midfield as Danny O'Rourke's status is still in question, communication along the backline will be imperative to stopping the Australian's late runs into the penalty area.
"The late midfield runner is really hard to mark," said Wahl, who could move to centerback against the Red Bulls with Gláuber out due to yellow card accumulation. "Cahill is always coming in late, he's good in the air. Obviously he's got some chemistry now with the other midfielders who are playing him balls, accurate balls. He makes those really late, dangerous runs.
"We have to communicate early. [Cahill's goal] was a good lesson for us. We've had some communication issues recently and it's something we need to really key-in on because to mark that late runner, you have to be organized in moving guys and switching guys around."
Added centerback Eric Gehrig: "We have to make sure when runners are going into box that everybody is picked up, we're communicating and no one is left open because if New York has the chances Toronto had, they're probably going to make us pay."
DAX IS BACK
Tireless Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty returned from injury to play 13 minutes in New York's 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday after missing five matches. There is a strong possibility McCarty could return to the Red Bulls' starting lineup against the Crew.
"[McCarty] is a good player," Warzycha said. "Obviously, he was their MVP last year and for good reason. He's coming back from injury, and I'm sure their team will be stronger."
McCarty is the facilitator in New York's midfield, playing box-to-box to disrupt opponents' offenses and distributing to Red Bull attackers. His work rate shines amongst superstars like Cahill, Thierry Henry and Juninho.
"He brings that well-rounded, hard-working MLS mentality," Wahl complimented McCarty. "He's not as big of a name comparatively to Thierry Henry, but he's a very effective player. He gets up and down the field, makes tackles in the back and he has offensive capabilities."
Limiting McCarty's influence in the midfield will be another task for the likely central midfield tandem of Tchani and Sánchez against New York.
"He's more comfortable on the ball," Tchani explained. "He's a good player, a great piece for the New York Red Bulls.
"If he starts, then taking him out of the game will help us a lot defensively. We need to make him run and we need to occupy him."