Preview: Crew hits the road for clash with Union
Looking ahead to its fourth match in the last 11 days, the Crew travels to PPL Park for the only time in 2013 to face a Philadelphia Union side that sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference table Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes, FOX Sports Ohio). Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha is working to keep his players fresh while juggling MLS and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play with injuries to multiple starters.
"I think this time of the year, that's how the schedule looks," Warzycha explained. "We have to make sure the guys are fresh and we give them enough rest. To have everybody available at this point in the season would be nice, but we have some injuries we have to deal with."
The Head Coach has kept training sessions light this week while his team makes a quick turnaround from Saturday's 1-1 home draw against Houston Dynamo.
"We had a light session today, which has been great for us -- especially us older guys," defender Tyson Wahl said on Monday.
"It's really just about recovering during the practice sessions and playing in the games. Obviously, it's kind of nice to have quick turnarounds, so you kind of forget about mistakes and move on quickly and have a short-term memory."
The Crew has earned points in five-out-of-seven road matches this season. Looking to do the same on Wednesday, the Black & Gold will look to bring pressure early against the Union.
"We have to play the same way we have [in past road matches]: playing to win and taking it to the other team," Warzycha said.
Added forward Dominic Oduro: "We're really playing well right now. But as much as we're playing well, we've got to find a way to win games.
"We've been doing well on the road, which is really positive and I think we'll continue to do that on the road against Philly."
ODURO LIKELY TO RETURN TO FORWARD
Striker Jairo Arrieta has been summoned by Costa Rica for international duty in La Sele's upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, leaving Dominic Oduro as the likely option to lead the Black & Gold's attack against the Union. Oduro has started six matches at forward, while starting the Crew's other seven games in 2013 at right midfield.
The Black & Gold are 2-1-3 in matches that Oduro spearheads the offense as the speedy Ghanaian has scored four of his team-leading six goals in those matches. Oduro feels his pace poses a bigger threat to opposing defenses when he's at the forefront of the Crew attack.
"No question about it, I'm a threat when I'm playing up top," Oduro said. "I think defenders know that too. Obviously, that's something I'm always thinking about when I'm up top, they have to step back. I feel like mentally, I get you right there. They know it, I know it, everybody knows it."
Robert Warzycha has been mum on who will start at either striker or right midfield against the Union having considered Oduro at both positions. Eddie Gaven's season-ending torn ACL makes things more difficult for the Crew Head Coach.
"At both positions, [Oduro] is doing well," Warzycha said. "We have other guys like Aaron Schoenfeld and Ryan Finley that can play [forward] when Jairo is away. It's going to be dependent on who we're playing against and how they're doing.
"We have depth [on the wing]. [Justin] Meram and [Ben] Speas are good players. I think [Bernardo] Anor and [Ethan] Finlay are good options too. I'm very confident they can do the job with Eddie injured."
STOPPING JACK MAC
The Union's Jack McInerney leads all of MLS with 10 goals to his name so far this season, with one of those tallies coming in a 1-1 draw with the Black & Gold on April 6 at Crew Stadium. This time around the Crew will key-in on keeping the 20-year-old striker scoreless.
"Obviously [McInerney] is a goalscorer and he's definitely a threat," Wahl said. "He's super active and he's really confident right now. We just have to make sure we're locking in on him and shut him out."
Aside from McInerney, the Black & Gold knows there are plenty of other weapons in the Union's arsenal to be aware of, including forward Sebastien Le Toux who has tallied against the Crew three times since 2010.
"[McInerney] is having the season of his life," Warzycha said. "He can't do anything wrong and he's in the right place at the right time. That's usually typical of good forwards.
"We have to make sure we are very collective and know they don't only have Jack McInerney. They have [Sebastien] Le Toux and other guys that really play well. We won there last time and we'll try to do the same this time."