Crew SC midfielder Rodrigo Saravia competed for Guatemala’s National Team against the U.S. Men’s National Team during its two FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March. Ahead of Saturday’s match at Toronto FC (5 p.m. ET), the Black & Gold rookie says he learned a lot from these matches, especially matching up against USMNT and TFC veteran midfielder Michael Bradley.
“I think [Michael Bradley] is a leader, a positive leader,” he says. “The way he carries the ball, he controls the midfield. I play midfield, so it was good playing against him.”
Saravia is aware of the talent Toronto’s midfield possesses, particularly in Bradley and 2015 MLS MVP and Golden Boot recipient Sebastian Giovinco. Based on his experience facing off with Bradley and studying Toronto’s game, Saravia says he knows how Crew SC can contain the Canadian’s midfield duo.
“I think our pressing will be a key part of the game,” he says. “Also one-v-one situations, defending against [Bradley], defending against Giovinco […] if we press those two guys, I think we’ll be fine.”
The Guatemalan says it will also be important to hit the Reds with speed on the wings if Crew SC wants to score and claim three points on the road.
“Changing the game quick from one side to the other, that’s our game. So it will be really, really important to be sharp on that,” he says. “We have really good players on the outside wings, and one-v-one situations will be crucial for us.”
Currently, Columbus Crew SC sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Black & Gold are just six points behind the leading Montreal Impact. Saravia is confident Crew SC can translate its recent performances into points and move up the table.
“We’re not good in the table right now, but everyone is stepping up,” he says. “We’re in a good situation right now, and if we step up the next few games we’re going to go high. We’re going to get more points and more points.”