Crew Notes: Crew tinker to fill gap

Warzycha must shift players as left mid on Gold Cup duty with US

The Columbus Crew may feel fortunate they will be missing only Robbie
Rogers for much of June while he’s with the US team for the CONCACAF
Gold Cup. Especially considering Saturday’s opponent, New York, will
have five players away with their national teams.

The Crew will need to find a replacement for Rogers in the rematch at
Red Bull Arena, but injuries may limit the options on the left side of
the midfield.

Dilly Duka did not dress for last Saturday’s game against Chivas USA
because of a left ankle sprain and Leandre Griffit was absent for
Monday’s reserve game at New York because of an undisclosed injury. Josh
Gardner got a 45-minute audition on the left wing vs. Chivas when
Rogers started wide right.

“That didn’t work,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “There was a little bit of confusion.”

Gardner has played nearly all of his first season with the Crew at left
back and admitted that he spent too much time against Chivas covering
the same space as left back Rich Balchan.

“Rich and I need to communicate a little bit more,” Gardner said. “It’s
pretty loud, so we have to be louder when we’re yelling out
directions.”

Warzycha moved Gardner to left back and Balchan to holding midfielder
in the second half and the team settled down. Balchan has struggled
lately in his rookie season and was victimized on Chivas’ first goal
when he left his man unmarked.

“The goal he gave up at San Jose [on May 14] and here against Chivas
were exactly the same,” Warzycha said. “He was supposed to cover the far
post. It was the moment; a lack of concentration.”

Second-year left back Shaun Francis played in the reserve game and may
be ready for his first team debut after missing every league match this
season because of a hamstring strain. That doesn’t mean Warzycha is
ready to give up on Balchan.

“Actually, you can see Balchan is making similar mistakes to Shaun when
he started his rookie season,” Warzycha said. “There was a little
ball-watching, too.”

NO PATIENCE

Warzycha said he was surprised by the firings of Carlos de los Cobos
and Teitur Thordarson only two months into the season. The two were
canned by Chicago and Vancouver, respectively, on Monday.

“It’s early in the season,” Warzycha said. “This league is about the
playoffs. You can win the Supporters’ Shield and lose in the first round
of the playoffs [like the Crew did in 2009] and be very disappointed.
You can be the eighth team going into the playoffs and win the
championship like three or four of the past five years.”

GOING NOWHERE FAST

The Crew’s travel woes continue. Returning from San Jose on May 22, the
connector from Chicago to Columbus was cancelled and most of the team
rode a bus for more than six hours to get home.

Following Monday’s 6-1 Reserve League win against the Red Bulls,
Warzycha refused to put his team on a bus with the air conditioning
broke for the ride from the hotel to the airport in 90-degree
conditions. After a replacement bus got them there, the Crew endured an
hour-long delay in the terminal, then sat on the tarmac for another hour
waiting for takeoff.

“The pilot said we were 18th in line,” Warzycha said. “Two minutes later he said, ‘Sorry, we’re 36th.’”