Preview: Crew takes momentum from Bliss' first win on the road
Playing its third match in seven days on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), the Crew travels to Kansas City in search of three points following the first win of the Brian Bliss era Wednesday night against the Houston Dynamo. The Black & Gold will look to carry that momentum into the weekend tilt.
"It's all about momentum and guys feeling better about themselves," Bliss said. "I've said before, we can try to influence, in a short amount of time, the mentality rather than the tactics. Sometimes a little bit of it goes hand in hand.
"It's an important game coming up because we have an opportunity to go there and get points based on the momentum we've picked up the past three days."
Unlike the midweek win against Houston, the Black & Gold will have playmaker Federico Higuaín back after the Argentine served a two-match suspension for his red card at Real Salt Lake on August 24 and yellow card accumulation.
Bliss expects Higuaín to transition nicely into the Interim Head Coach's gameplan.
"[Higuaín] trained very well this week. His attitude is fantastic, not that it was bad before, but his hunger and desire to get in on the game and be on the ball was very good," Bliss explained. "His role is not going to be too different because he does what he does. It's more of a central role. It's underneath, it's creating, but it's also being a leader and being on the ball and wanting the ball in the tough moments.
"That's is kind of what he 's there for and what he's paid to do. That's what we expect from him."
It will be a different look Sporting Kansas City side come kickoff on Saturday as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi serve international duty with the U.S. National Team. The club also parted ways with winger Kei Kamara recently, who signed with English Championship side Middlesbrough.
Sporting Head Coach Peter Vermes will count on Benny Feilhaber to fill Zusi's role as the catalyst in Kansas City's attack. Limiting Feilhaber will be key to the Crew's defensive strategy.
"[Zusi and Feilhaber] are pretty similar, they're two technically good players," defender Chad Marshall said. "Zusi maybe gets in the box a little more, but Benny is definitely a distributor and they will look to go through him. It's going to be important to shut him down."
A win in Kansas City would be a special moment for Bliss, who served as an assistant coach for the club from 2000-06.
"It’s always nice to go back to places that you have worked at before and I probably believe that there are some people there who still appreciate the work that we did when we were there for six or seven years," the Interim Head Coach said following Wednesday's win.
"So yeah it will be nice to go in there and punch the bully in the nose."