OBETZ, Ohio — Statistically, the Crew did well
enough in their season opener against Toronto FC, earning a 2-0 shutout
on March 27 to ease any first-game jitters for a team hungry to get
back to the postseason.
The number of squandered opportunities
in that match, however, left an indelible mark.
“We had a lot of
chances the second half,” Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “We played
pretty good in the field, but we have to do better in the next
Schelotto and defender Andy Iro scored, but Steven
Lenhart, Adam Moffat and Robbie Rogers were among the culprits who
prevented the match from being a blowout.
“We created enough
chances to score five or six goals,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said.
Crew can take solace in that they performed slightly better than the
past two seasons in putting away chances. Columbus scored on one-third
of its six shots on goal, and converted 13 percent of the 15 total
Last year, the Crew scored on 30 percent of the shots on
goal (41 of 138) and 12 percent of the shots taken. The 50 goals
Columbus had en route to the 2008 MLS Cup came off 31 percent of the
161 shots on target and 13 percent of 388 attempts.
Still, no one
“The past two weeks we’ve been trying to do
better on the last pass,” Gaven said. “The last game we weren’t sharp
in the passing. That was the main problem but I think we’ll do better
For his part, however, coach Robert Warzycha isn’t
pressing the panic button just yet.
“That was the first game. I
understand the players are a little bit rusty in front of the goal,” he
said. “We had some really good chances. The chances were not only from
the crosses but the run of play. That’s even better.”
more games,” he added. “They have to be in-game situations. Playing
here 11 v. 11, that helps, but a game situation is more pressure. How
are you going to simulate that in practice? As the season goes on and
we have more games they’ll get better.”
The Crew return from a
bye week for Saturday’s match at FC Dallas and former Crew member Jeff
Cunningham. He had 17 goals last season for FCD but none in 115 minutes
against his former team.
“Jeff had an amazing season last
year,” Crew midfielder Duncan Oughton said. “You can still see with that
pace he has he’s dangerous with the ball.”
Cunningham presents a
formidable challenge for a backline that will undergo changes from
game one. Chad Marshall, the league Defender of the Year the past two
seasons, missed the opener because of a hamstring strain but is ready
just in time to replace Eric Brunner in the middle. Brunner suffered a
concussion during a scrimmage against Marshall University last week.
Marshall might be paired with Iro, or Danny O’Rourke could move
from left back into the central defense, opening a spot for Gino
Padula. Frankie Hejduk is expected to start at right back after nursing
an injured hamstring and missing the first game.