Crew not taking Vancouver lightly

Warzycha must shuffle lineup as C'bus look to improve road mark

Robert Warzycha

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One of coach Robert Warzycha’s pet words is “absolutely,” so it was no
surprise how he answered when asked if the Crew might take the worst
team in MLS lightly on Wednesday in Vancouver. (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online)

“Absolutely not,” he said. “They’re playing at home. Look at Salt Lake against New England.”

He referenced Monday’s 3-3 tie in Sandy, Utah, when New England - whose
16 points are second from the bottom, only better than the Whitecaps’
14 – pulled points from one of the top clubs.

Despite a 2-8-8 record, the expansion Whitecaps are 2-1-5 at home and have outscored visitors 12-10.

Meanwhile, the Crew (6-5-6, 24 points) are coming off a 2-0 loss
Saturday at FC Dallas that dropped them to 1-4-3 on the road. They have
been outscored 11-5 and been blanked in half of their away matches.

“We need to start putting together some good performances on the road
in order to be competitive in this league,” midfielder/defender Danny
O’Rourke said. “We have to learn how to do that by, hopefully, come
playoff time because that’s where we’re going to have to do it if we
want to win a championship.”

That’s why Warzycha has found the post-FCD practices to be focused.

“This is not a game we will take lightly, especially with all the injuries and suspensions,” he said.

Forward Emilio Rentería (left hamstring strain), midfielder Dilly Duka
(right ankle sprain) and defender Shaun Francis (left hamstring strain)
have been out so long they are not even mentioned when Warzycha
discusses match lineups.

The Crew lost three more players after Saturday’s match because holding
midfielder Rich Balchan suffered a groin strain, centerback Andy Iro
received a red card, and central midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo’s yellow to
earn a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Warzycha has to decide whether to shuffle players from their normal spots or simply drop someone into those vacated positions.

His decision at center back should be easy after he pronounced Julius
James “100 percent” ready. James started the first 15 games before
missing the past two with an adductor strain.

O’Rourke, Dejan Rusmir or Kevin Burns could start for Balchan. Rusmir
seems like the safe bet because O’Rourke is working back to 90-minute
strength following offseason left knee surgery and Burns was left off
the travel team to Frisco, Texas, but was called to Vancouver following
the match along with defenders Korey Veeder and Eric Gehrig.

O’Rourke went 68 minutes in his first appearance of the season in last
week’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and another 21 on Saturday.

“We don’t want to go into the game knowing we may have to sub somebody,” Warzycha said of O’Rourke.

The simple move in the middle would be to start Burns. If Warzycha
wants to disrupt things, he could move one of the flank players – either
Bernardo Anor or Eddie Gaven – in there and return winger Robbie Rogers
to the first XI after his stay with the US team.

“We can move some players around or also we can put in the players we groomed for the starting position,” Warzycha said.