Preview: Crew vs. Whitecaps
Following an impressive 3-0 road win against Chivas USA to kick off the 2013 season, the Crew travels north to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday night (FOX Sports Ohio/7:30 p.m. ET). The Black & Gold will carry the momentum from Week One's win into Canada as the club looks for back-to-back road victories for the first time since 2011.
"A lot of good things happened [against Chivas USA], Head Coach Robert Warzycha Friday. "It was important for our confidence. Playing on the road, we scored three goals and we didn't give up a goal. Good things happened and we started on the right foot."
"Anytime you get off to a good start in the season and get three points, it's a huge momentum builder for a team, especially going on the road," Rookie forward Ryan Finley said. "Getting three points at Chivas USA was huge for us. I think everyone is really excited. We had a good week of practice before heading up to Vancouver, so we're looking forward to keeping the momentum going."
The Crew is 2-1-0 against Whitecaps FC since the club joined MLS in 2011. The British Columbia side took last year's lone meeting at Crew Stadium behind Lee Young-Pyo's free kick strike.
WINNING THE MIDFIELD BATTLE
Last week's match against Chivas USA was just the second time veteran Danny O'Rourke and offseason signing Agustín Viana had ever paired together in central midfield. While there were kinks at first as expected, the midfield tandem was an integral part in the Crew's victory over the Rojiblancos.
Both players distributed the ball well to Federico Higuaín, Eddie Gaven and Dominic Oduro in the attack. The two combined to win 14 headers in midfield, six of which were completed for a second pass against Chivas USA.
"[Against Chivas USA], we won the middle of the field," Warzycha explained. "It was a little bit shaky in the beginning. We lost the ball a couple times and it led to scoring chances, but I think we cleaned up everything pretty quick. The rest of the game was pretty good."
The Crew will rely on O'Rourke and Viana once again against Whitecaps FC to be keep possession for the Black & Gold and supply the side's playmaker in Higuaín.
FIRST GAME JITTERS GONE
The season opener marked the Crew debuts for Gláuber, Viana, Oduro and the professional debut for Finley. Though he was a key member of the Columbus offense in preseason play, Finley was relieved to get his MLS debut under his belt coming on for Jairo Arrieta in the 76th minute of the match.
The rookie from Notre Dame created several chances in a limited debut and seemlessly transitioned into the MLS style of play.
"Throughout the preseason, with every game I got more and more comfortable," Finley explained. "I was pretty excited and pretty comfortable going in on Saturday [against Chivas USA]. I was just happy to be given the opportunity, and I think I did pretty well coming on and creating a few chances. I probably should have put one away, but I didn't really feel any nerves. I was just really excited to come on and try to help the team."
"[Finley] has done well," Warzycha said of the rookie. "When Jairo [Arrieta] was tired, he was a good sub for us. He gave us a good presence on the field. He created good chances, but didn't score the goal. He was working extremely hard and I'm happy to have him."
Look for Finley to once again be Warzycha's first option off the bench against Vancouver.