Crew tinker in hopes of rejuvenating offense vs. Houston

Moving pieces around to spark offense

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OBETZ, Ohio – The Columbus Crew say that they’re on the same page when it comes to jump-starting an offense that’s scored only four goals in their first five games of the season.

Now they’ll have to prove it when they face the Houston Dynamo at Crew Stadium on Saturday (7:30 pm ET,  watch LIVE online).

In an effort to snap their current two-game losing streak, Columbus will try to push attacking midfielder Milovan Mirosevic closer to the forwards and get Eddie Gaven more involved down the flanks, where he’s struggled to produce the same volume of shots and drawn fouls as the team are used to.

“I’ve got to do a better job of trying to find the ball in areas of the field where I can hurt the other team a little more,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working on this week, trying to find balls where I don’t always have someone on my hip.’

Mirosevic, the Crew’s most notable offseason signing, had a similar answer when asked about his propensity to spend as much time defending as pushing forward.

“For an offensive player it is better to receive the ball when we are attacking than when we are defending or on our side,” the Chilean told MLssoccer.com on Friday. “If I get the ball on our side I play one or two touches and somebody is near me when I receive the ball. If I move closer to our forwards I will be able to give them passes and that’s the idea.”

Mirosevic’s lone goal this season came from a penalty kick against Montreal on March 24. New forward Olman Vargas also scored in that match, but returning top scorer Emilio Renteria has yet to find the back of the net. The Crew’s other goals are by midfielder Bernardo Anor and defender Chad Marshall.

One reason for the lack of production has been the development of rookie defensive midfielder Kirk Urso. Mirosevic has often added cover for the former North Carolina player at the expense of offense and the pair is still trying to connect on a consistent basis.

“After watching some tape there’s still some things I can do better,” Urso said. “One is getting in different spaces. Sometimes I thought I kind of closed down his options by running into space.”

Warzycha has put Cole Grossman and Tony Tchani on the first team at various points of practice this week, meaning Urso’s streak of five starts may be in jeopardy.

Other changes could be in the offing, as well. Danny O’Rourke has twice been pulled from the starting lineup on game days because of a sore ankle, but he might be ready to supplant Eric Gehrig at centerback on Saturday.

Also, Montenegrin left back Nemanja Vukovic showed well in his debut off the bench last week against the Philadelphia Union and is a candidate to replace Shaun Francis.

“If you don’t put him in the game you’ll never going to know what he can do,” Warzycha said of Vukovic.