Confident Crew looks to continue road form against Fire
Living out of a suitcase is something the Crew has become accustomed to in 2013. The Black & Gold spent a total of 28 days in late January through February in Florida for preseason, followed by 10 days on the West Coast for their first two matches of the season against Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps. Since then, the Crew has played two additional road matches against D.C. United and the Montreal Impact while only playing two matches at home in Columbus.
The Black & Gold will see a stretch of five of its first seven matches of the season being played on the road come to a close on Saturday when they take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (8:30 p.m. ET/FOX Sports Ohio).
Despite the tough string of road matches to start the 2013 season, the Crew has managed to pick up seven points from four games. The team hopes its confidence carries over to Saturday night to snap a nine-match winless streak at Toyota Park.
"We've been strong on the road," left back Tyson Wahl said following the team's training session on Thursday. "We've spent a lot of time on the road and we feel confident. We're looking to go to Chicago and win again on the road."
Added midfielder Eddie Gaven: "[The road results so far] have given guys lots of confidence that it doesn't matter where we're playing: If we go out there and fight for each other, we should be fine."
With two road wins already in 2013, the Crew is halfway to its 2012 road win total of four.
LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT ALL AROUND
While the Crew has lost only one of its first six matches in 2013, the team has looked for improvement all over the field.
Last week against Montreal, the Crew had several first half chances that were not converted to result in a 1-1 draw with the Impact. Though the team is happy with the amount of chances being created, the confidence to finish will come in training.
"We've scored in every game so far, so I think we've done a good job of creating chances," Gaven said. "Sometimes the ball doesn't always go in and you've just got to keep working at it during training to see the ball hit the net. We have to get in that mindset. We have to have that killer instinct that we're going to put the ball in the net."
The veteran midfielder continued: "It's good that the team is at least creating chances. If that's not happening, that's a much bigger problem."
With just one of the Crew's nine goals this season coming in the first half of play, Gaven admitted more production would likely lead to more wins. The Black & Gold has had to come from behind in two of their three draws this season.
"We want to be able to put teams on their heels early, so it's a little bit easier on it and we're not trying to scramble just for a tie," Gaven explained. "But at the same time, it's great that if we go down, we still feel like we're always in the game."
On the defensive end, a new back four of Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Gláuber and Tyson Wahl in front of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum has shown improvement in each of the club's six matches in 2013. The next step, Wahl said, is to post more shutouts. The only clean sheet the Crew has posted this season was in the team's 3-0 win at Chivas USA.
"We're still looking to continue to improve, looking to get more shutouts," Wahl said. "We've only had one this season. We're always looking to get better and I think we have. Our chemistry is improving because we've been together a long time now. We're all starting to get comfortable with each other."
The Crew's second shutout of the season could come Saturday against the Fire. Frank Klopas' side has scored just five goals this season, three of which came in one match.