Crew looking for that scoring punch

Columbus players agree team must work better as unit in attack

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As well as the Crew have played defensively, their luck at the other end of the field has been the complete opposite. No one, though, is putting all the blame on the forwards.

“Soccer is a team game,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “[Defending is] not just four guys in the back playing D; [attacking is] not just the two guys up top playing offense. [Scoring] is something we need to work on as a team.”

After opening the season with a 3-1 loss to D.C. United, the Crew (1-1-2) have not allowed a goal in three straight games, tying a club mark. However, two scoreless draws sandwich a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas.

“We haven’t created a whole lot of chances in those games,” said Gaven. “Maybe other teams are playing us tight, but at the same time, the game against Dallas, we created four or five really good chances. It’s definitely there.”

Forwards Andres Mendoza, Emilio Renteria, Jeff Cunningham, Emmanuel Ekpo and Tommy Heinemann have yet to score from the run of play.

“Everyone can be better offensively,” defender Chad Marshall said. “We could be better building the ball out of the back, finding those midfielders and forwards with more time”

Columbus have notched just three goals – penalties by Mendoza and midfielder Robbie Rogers and Gaven’s score in stoppage time against Dallas.

“We just need a little more composure in front of the net,” Rogers said. “We need to be a little more decisive and finish our chances.”

Part of the problem has been that injuries have limited Mendoza and Rentería to only 15 minutes together in the second half against FCD. Rentería missed the first two games and Mendoza the last, but both are healthy going into Saturday’s home game against Sporting Kansas City. (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick and MatchDay Live)

Without the pairing of his two top forwards, coach Robert Warzycha opted to use Ekpo, a converted midfielder, behind a lone striker.

Warzycha remains confident the attack will come around, especially since he feels the defenders have jelled quicker than expected despite three newcomers in front of goalkeeper William Hesmer.

“You’ve got to start somewhere, having so many new players,” Warzycha said. “We started in the back. I’m happy with the team performance in the back. We didn’t give too many chances to the other team and Will is very solid.

“I’d rather play good defense and don’t give up the goals than score four goals and give up five,” he added.

Rogers thinks the team may be ready to break out.

“We have our defensive structure down, now we need to score goals,” he said.