Preview: Crew aims for third-straight win with visit to Real Salt Lake
Back in the playoff hunt after earning back-to-back home wins, the Crew now faces a stiff test traveling to Rio Tinto Stadium to face MLS Supporters' Shield leader Real Salt Lake on Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio). Despite the recent success, the Black & Gold know there is still plenty of work to do if they hope to return to the postseason.
"It's one of those things that we can't get too high off of, we just won two games in a row," midfielder Wil Trapp said. "If we want to make the playoffs, we have to win more than just two. It's good to be winning games, but we can't get too ahead of ourselves."
The formula for the Crew's two consecutive wins has been simple, according to Head Coach Robert Warzycha: score goals and play defense.
"We've scored two goals in each of the past two games and haven't given up any," Warzycha stated matter-of-factly. "I think that's very positive. I think the guys realize we can win games and we aren't giving up goals."
The offensive combination of Federico Higuaín, Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta seems to finally be clicking in the final stretch of the 2013 season. The Black & Gold attack has produced 13 shots on target over the past two matches, compared to nine total attempts on goal in the three matches previous.
"We have to take our motivation from what we've done the past two games," Oduro said. "We're attacking, creating chances and scoring goals. You can't stop us right now, I believe. We have to carry that momentum."
The Crew has made the most of its opportunities against top teams in 2013. The Black & Gold defeated the Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls, all of whom were in first place at the time they played the Crew.
"On those days, we rise to the occasion," Trapp said. "The games where we've beaten the top teams in the League, I feel like every guy on the team has played well. We have to do that consistently to be more than just the first-place teams."
Things may prove to be more difficult for the Crew in Utah on Saturday. Real Salt Lake has scored a League-best 44 goals and is 7-2-3 at home this season.
"They've scored the most goals in the League and they're winning important games," Warzycha said of his opponent. "They're very good at home. They still have the sore of their players from win they won MLS Cup: [Kyle] Beckerman, [Nat] Borchers, [Nick] Rimando, [Álvaro] Saborío and [Javier] Morales. They carry the team."
Morales is the focal point of the Claret-and-Cobalt's attack with six goals and eight assists this season. Trapp will draw the responsibility of limiting the impact of the Argentine playmaker.
"[Morales] is a very good player," Trapp said. "I'm doing my homework on him, watching as much film as I possibly can. The main thing is working with my teammates and staying organized, and I think we'll be just fine."
Warzycha has no doubts in Trapp's ability to shut-down Morales.
"I think he'll do a very good job. I don't expect anything less."