Sitting outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture but still
very much in contention, the Columbus Crew know they can’t afford
to leave points behind going forward.
Seeking a season-best third consecutive win, visiting Columbus
tries to take advantage of what appears to be a favorable matchup
Wednesday night against the offensively challenged Philadelphia
The seventh-place Crew (10-8-6) sit three points behind
sixth-place Montreal and four back of D.C. for the fifth and final
playoff berth in the East, but they have at least one game in hand
on all of the teams they’re chasing. With 10 games remaining and
Saturday’s showdown with the Impact looming, Columbus understands
the importance of Wednesday’s contest.
“We are in the time of the season that we have to win games if
we want to even think about the playoffs,” coach Robert Warzycha
told the Crew’s official website. “Winning games gets us into the
playoffs. We have to be thinking about one thing: how can we go to
(Philadelphia) and get three points.”
While Columbus suffered a 1-0 loss in its last visit to PPL Park
on April 14, it carries plenty of momentum into this one. The Crew
are coming off back-to-back victories, beating New England 4-3 on
Saturday behind two goals each from Federico Higuain and Jairo
Arrieta scored the winner in the 86th minute, his fifth goal in
eight games with Columbus.
“I think we’re motivated every game to get three points,” said
captain Chad Marshall, who has a chance to become the club’s
all-time leader in minutes played with 81 on Wednesday.
“I think we know at this point in the season how important each
game is, especially against Eastern Conference rivals. We’re going
to be looking to play better than last time we went (to
Philadelphia) and trying to get three points.”
Though things seem to be looking up for the Crew – especially
with Higuain making a major impact with three goals and two assists
in his first three games with the club – they’re just 1-3-2 over
their last six road games.
Their goalkeeper situation is also uncertain. Andy Gruenebaum
had played every minute before suffering a lower back contusion
Saturday. He was replaced by Matt Lampson at halftime, and it’s
unclear which player will be in net Wednesday.
“(Gruenebaum) said he’s feeling much better than (Sunday) or the
day before,” Warzycha told the league’s official website. “The way
he is progressing he may play but we may not use him because we may
need him for the next game (against Montreal).”
The Crew could benefit from facing a Union club that’s struggled
to generate much offense of late. Philadelphia (7-12-4) has totaled
two goals while posting an 0-2-2 record this month.
While the Union played to a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake
on Friday, their fans had plenty to cheer for during Danny Cruz’s
“I haven’t been here that long at all, but I feel so comfortable
and I was overwhelmed with the fan support,” Cruz, acquired from
D.C. on Aug. 16, told the Union’s official website.
“It’s been such a whirlwind experience and everything has
happened so quick. To be wearing this uniform makes me proud, and
I’m going to do all I can to help the club win a whole lot of