Recovering from his MCL sprain suffered on July 4, Hector Jimenez has made substitute appearances in each of the Crew's previous two matches, including the 2-0 loss in Montreal. That match, which came on the heels of two strong performances at home, has left the Black & Gold in a state of refocusing for this weekend's match against Chivas USA.
"To be honest with you, we sat down [earlier this week] and we talked," said Jimenez. "[Montreal] was one of those games that was just a bad game. We're going to try to put it in the past and move on. We were coming off of two good victories against Houston and LA, and we're going to try to prepare like we did for those games this coming weekend. I know it's a huge game after obviously a defeat. Three points at home this weekend would be huge."
Aiding the Crew in its quest to right the ship is the fact that the club is returning to Crew Stadium, where it has played well recently, particularly in the resounding victories over the Dynamo and the Galaxy. Jimenez said that recovering from the Montreal match was "definitely" aided by playing back at home.
"Knowing that we have a really important game this weekend helps out a lot. It's one of those games where we have to come out and get three points this weekend, especially with it being a tight race for the playoffs in the East."
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Obetz, the Crew defeated Dayton Dutch Lions FC by a 5-1 score in a friendly scrimmage.
The match was an opportunity for select Black & Gold players to stay sharp as well as to continue fostering the relationship with the club's USL-PRO affiliate. Ben Speas notched two goals for the Crew and guest trainee Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester City added a hat trick. Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said that Iheanacho, 17, is training with the Crew to maintain fitness before rejoining the Barclays Premier League side in mid-October.
"It's been unfortunate that we haven't had enough reserve games for the guys that haven't been playing," said Berhalter. "This is an opportunity for them to get game time. We did that in an abbreviated form [with two 35-minute halves]. Overall, I thought it was helpful. Guys like Hector [Jimenez], Jairo [Arrieta], Daniel [Paladini], Kevan [George] -- to give them some minutes -- Chad [Barson], all the guys, it was definitely worthwhile."
George and Paladini also started together in the holding midfield role. Both are candidates to start on Sunday against Chivas USA in the absences of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani due to yellow-card accumulation.
"I thought [the pairing] was good. I thought they controlled the game from the middle," said the Crew boss. "Defensively, they were both good. I was pleased."
Neil Sika joins Matt Finkes every Wednesday for Sika the Truth on 95.5 The Game.
The Crew took a small slide in national Power Rankings after its 2-0 loss in Montreal on Saturday, but the Black & Gold have a strong chance to rebound with a home clash on Sunday against Chivas USA (3:00 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).
See below for this week's rankings with last week's position indicated afterward:
ESPNFC: 11 (10)
SI.com: 10 (9)
MLSsoccer.com: 9 (8)
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Brad Stuver had another productive week for Wilmington, going unbeaten and allowing just one goal over two matches for the Hammerheads. On Thursday, August 28 he helped Wilmington defeat Orlando City SC by a 3-1 final score. Two days later, he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Sacramento Republic FC. Stuver has now started seven matches for the Hammerheads, compiling a 1.43 goals-against average. The goalkeeper was also named to the league's Team of the Week for his efforts.
Elsewhere in USL-PRO, Crew loanee Ross Friedman returned for Dayton after missing two matches, starting and playing 40 minutes in a 7-0 loss to Orlando City SC. Matt Wiet also started for the Dutch Lions in the contest.
Photo Credit: Kirby Hines
Ashleigh Ignelzi joins Matt Finkes on The BIG Show to talk all things Black & Gold on Massive Monday.