Crew look to extend unbeaten streak against New England
Unbeaten in its last three matches, the Crew will attempt to extend that streak Saturday night as the club welcomes the New England Revolution to Columbus (7:30PM EST/FOX Sports Ohio). The Black & Gold is riding high from Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Canadian rivals Toronto FC.
Despite the victory, Robert Warzycha feels there is much to be improved on Saturday against the Revolution. The Crew struggled with keeping possession and creating chances in the final third following Federico Higuaín's goal in the 58th minute to put Columbus ahead 2-1.
"Soccer is a game of mistakes," Warzycha said after Friday's training session in Obetz. "You make mistakes, and a good team will punish you. It's almost impossible to not make mistakes because the team is on to something good and they make a run and maybe you get surprised. Definitely, we have to be much better on the offensive side of the ball. We have to be cleaner."
Veteran defender Carlos Mendes agreed, "Against Toronto, we had stretches that were good, but especially in the second half toward the end of the game, we didn't keep the ball. When you defend for too long and don't keep the ball, everybody gets tired and it's difficult."
"Against New England, we'll have to do a good job of possessing the ball and keeping it. That will help everybody defensively because [trying to regain possession] tires you out," Mendes finished.
In Wednesday's match, the Crew was given an early cushion after Eddie Gaven's shot from outside the box in the fourth minute took a fortuitous deflection off of a TFC defender and past debutant goalkeeper Freddy Hall. Columbus will again look to come out and attack early against New England.
It all starts with the first pass, Warzycha says.
"We have to simplify the game and connect on the first pass," the head coach explained.
Defensively, the Crew will be wary of an arsenal of attacking weapons at Jay Heaps' disposal in the Revolution lineup. Though New England is winless in its last seven, a midfield of Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber, and Kelyn Rowe with Saer Sene and new Designated Player Jerry Bengtson will prove to be a handful for the Columbus defense. Bengtson has yet to play a full 90 minutes since returning from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where he scored three goals for Honduras as an overage player.
"[New England is] a good team and we really need to come out and be ready to play," Mendes said of the Crew's weekend opponent. "They're dangerous. They have speed and talent up top. They can hurt you in so many ways. They probably haven't gotten the results they've wanted to, but we need to bring our A-game and be ready to play."
Saturday's match is the Black & Gold's fourth in the last 10 days as part of the seven matches in three weeks stretch the club is currently enduring.
Warzycha says he and his staff are doing everything they can to keep the players fresh.
"We're doing as well as we can," he said Friday. "We have a game every two days, so we have to have enough rest. We're doing everything we can to make sure the players are ready for the next game."