Following bye week, Crew anxious for home debut against Union
While the Crew would have likely preferred to keep rolling following its season-opening 3-0 win at D.C. United on March 8, the Black & Gold spent the past week continuing to learn new Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter's system in preparation for Saturday's home opener against the Philadelphia Union (6:00 p.m. ET/ TICKETS).
"We put in a good couple weeks of training to get ready, work on our fitness, but also work on individual things and rest a couple injuries," Captain Michael Parkhurst said. "It gave us an extra week to get used to the system and continue to fine tune things tactically."
Added midfielder Wil Trapp: "I'd say the break has been good for us, just for the sake of getting to really focus on Philly and how we're going to break them down and unbalance them. Obviously, you never want to have a week off after a big win like we had in D.C., but on the flip side we were able to take time to look at ourselves and look at the opponent to form a strategy."
The Crew will have its hands full with a Union side that earned a win and a draw in its first two matches of 2014. Winning the middle of the field will be key in claiming three points in front of the home fans.
"[The Union] is solid straight up the middle," Parkhurst complimented his opponent. "Maurice Edu brings a lot of bite to their midfield. He's box-to-box, getting in on the attack and winning balls. Brian Carroll likes to sit and picks out passing lanes defensively. Jack McInerney is a guy who's sneaky. He's always in behind and playing just inside the offside line, making early runs. He's a guy you really have to be aware of for the entire game.
Should Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter roll-out a similar lineup to that of the March 8 win, the matchup to watch in the game would be the Black & Gold's core in the center of the park of Trapp, Tony Tchani and Federico Higuaín against Philadelphia's unit of Edu, Carroll and Vincent Nogueira. The 21-year-old Trapp is confident in his teammates' ability and Berhalter's tactics heading into the weekend clash.
"The three of us have a good chemistry," he said. "Our style of play fits how [each player] plays. We're very comfortable and I think it lends to our strengths.
"[Philadelphia] has very good players, but at the same time, if we can play our style and do the things we're supposed to do, we can win the middle of the field."
In addition to the play on the field, the Crew is counting on the backing of its fans to lift the club to victory. Parkhurst, who last played at Crew Stadium in the United States' 2-0 win over Mexico in September, is counting on unwavering support from the Black & Gold faithful.
"The last time I was here with the National Team, it was an unbelievable atmosphere," he said. "I know what these fans are capable of and I hope they can transition the National Team support to the Crew as well."
Four-year veteran Josh Williams believes "putting on a show" Saturday will be key in making Crew Stadium a fortress in 2014.
"I'm expecting it to be a raucous crowd," Williams said. "The excitement is there. The support is there. I think it's going to be huge for us to put on a good show.
"It's crucial for us to get three points, put on a show and get those fans to come back."