With three games in seven days, this portion of the schedule figured to test the Columbus Crew’s depth.
With Wil Trapp’s absence on Wednesday following a red-card suspension, that sentiment becomes even more paramount. How the Crew will cope without their central midfield presence is a big question mark for Gregg Berhalter’s side prior to its midweek encounter with the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (8:00 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).
“Wil is a tough guy to replace. He’s important for the team,” said captain Michael Parkhurst. “He starts a lot of attacks being that middle guy stepping down in between [Giancarlo Gonzalez] and myself.
"We have a couple of guys that I think can come in, and it’s an opportunity for them to prove what they can bring to the team," continued Parkhurst. "It’s a great opportunity for them to show that they’re capable backups to Wil, and that they want to push for more playing time."
Added the Captain: "You hope that guys are ready for that opportunity that have been waiting for it, and I think that whoever gets that chance will be more than able to step up and have a good game for us.”
Berhalter figures to have several options available at his disposal to start for Trapp, including Daniel Paladini, who came into the 18 for the first time all season against Kansas City on Sunday—a 2-0 loss to the defending champions with a defensive effort that Parkhurst called “not good enough in the end.”
"We looked at some things today, and we just thought that the overall commitment at certain points in the game wasn’t good enough, but it’s things that are easily correctable,” said Parkhurst. “There are positives, but for sure the emphasis is keeping a ‘zero’ going into Houston. We think we can create enough chances to get a victory, as long as we put in the defensive work and stay sharp in the back.”
Keeping a shutout against Houston could be a difficult task, as the Dynamo is seemingly hitting its stride after getting Brad Davis back from injury in the team's four-goal explosion over Chivas USA last week. Despite the challenge, the Crew is confident they can earn a result by being protective in possession.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Crew defender Josh Williams. “We have to come out and play our game. Every game, Gregg [Berhalter] has us coming in wanting to play our style. We’re not going to change for anybody, but with that being said, we have to take care of the ball.”
Houston also features top striker Will Bruin, whose five goals is tied for fourth in MLS at the moment. Parkhurst and Bruin were both on the U.S. National Team’s roster at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Crew captain knows what a threat Bruin can be.
“He poses a few problems. He’s a big boy, he’s physical, he likes to throw his body around, and for a big guy, he’s pretty mobile,” said Parkhurst. “We need to make sure that we’re getting around him and intercepting balls before he can get his big body boxed up on either myself or Giancarlo [Gonzalez]. In the box, we need to be physical and make sure that we stay goalside of him, because he’s good in the air. He’s a striker, he knows how to finish.”
With Parkhurst and company ready to contain the threats of Houston’s attack, the rest of the side will be eager to carry over their positive play from the second half against Kansas City.
“What we can take from the Kansas City game is we have to be in control,” said Dominic Oduro, who came on at right wing at halftime in Sunday's loss. “In the second half, that’s what we did. We took control of the game … we just have to go at [Houston] and command the game.”