Preseason Preview: Crew vs. Union

Arrieta, Gaven return to action for Black & Gold

Eddie Gaven

Photo Credit: 
TheCrew.com

The Crew squares off against Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia Union in its second match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Wednesday. For the first time this preseason, Robert Warzycha will have nearly a full roster available for selection aside from Bernardo Anor (injury), Aaron Horton (on-trial with Hammarby IF in Sweden) and Wil Trapp (international duty) as Jairo Arrieta and Eddie Gaven arrived in Orlando on Monday.

Arrieta spent the whole month of January and last week with the Costa Rican National Team for the Copa Centroamericana and World Cup Qualifying, while Gaven spent the last week with his family following the birth of his second child.

Warzycha is looking forward to the added punch to duo can provide to the Black & Gold attack on Wednesday.

"It's good to have everybody back," the Head Coach said. "It gives us more offense. There are more people here to work. We have to play more games to become a better team, and so it's nice to have everybody available for selection."

Despite a 3-1-0 record thus far in the 2013 preseason, the Crew has scored just one goal against the run of play. Two of the Black & Gold's four goals have come via the penalty kick, one came via set-piece when Federico Higuaín and new signing Gláuber combined for a corner kick tally against Toronto FC on Saturday and the other came by way of counterattack when Ethan Finlay set up trialist Sercan Güvenisik against the Chicago Fire on January 30 in Bradenton, Fla.

With Arrieta and Gaven back in camp, the two will be expected to create more chances in the final third.

"We've won three games and lost one, that's the most important thing," Warzycha explained. "It doesn't matter how we score the goals. You have to put yourself in position to score and we're doing that, but it's good to have [Arrieta and Gaven] back in the offense."

New additions Matías Sánchez, Gláuber and Dominic Oduro made their Black & Gold debuts in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Toronto FC. With so many new faces in camp, the Crew is continuing to build chemistry every day in training.

"It's all about trying to gel, getting on the same page and learning how we're going to play together," Gaven said. "Hopefully we can translate that into the games on the field. We're going to keep on trying to gel more and more. Hopefully it will start to show in these games."

IN-FORM ARRIETA

Arrieta arrives to preseason camp on the heels of scoring two goals to win the Golden Boot of the Copa Centroamericana last month with Costa Rica. Arrieta's teammates hope the Costa Rican can build off his nine goals and three assists in just over a half-season with the Black & Gold in 2012.

"[Arrieta] is always a threat to score," Gaven said. "He's always looking to get on the end of crosses, on the end of through balls. He's a very good finisher. Hopefully we can get him various opportunities throughout the game to give him a chance to put the ball in the net."

Arrieta is expected to start up top with playmaker Federico Higuaín on Wednesday in place of 2013 First Round SuperDraft pick Ryan Finley, who started the Crew's first four preseason matches.

GAVEN MAINTAINING FITNESS

In between changing diapers and getting very little sleep with a newborn son at home, Eddie Gaven did his best to find a way to stay in shape while spending time with his family over the past week.

"I tried to go for runs whenever I could," Gaven said. "Obviously, it was kind of hard because it's not like I could actually play with a ball because there was still some snow on the ground. I just did what I could do. Now I'm down here with the team to keep trying to get fit for the first game of the season."

As for the rest of the Crew, Head Coach Robert Warzycha is faced with the difficult task of balancing the team's conditioning and rest with so many matches in rapid succession this preseason.

"It's a difficult thing to do, but we're doing the best we can," Warzycha said. "We're working hard to get the players fit and ready for our first game on March 2."