Crew finding life at home to be much easier
The Crew have a serious challenge in front of them.
They face off against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United in back to back games that can drive the team up the standings. Currently in 7th place, they have a prime chance as they host both games at Crew Stadium.
Columbus' boost is better than than the average increase in home-game productivity - they average nearly two points a game at home, 13 in seven games. 11 of the team's 17 total goals have been scored at home.
The offensive home-field advantage has given the Crew a positive goal differential at home. They have only allowed nine goals over seven games for a plus-2 differential (Four of those goals were scored by the New York Red Bulls in an early-April blowout loss).
On the road, the offense struggles, scoring six times in nine games. The defense has surrendered less than a goal a game, but the team stands at minus-2 goal differential on the road, a mirror of their home advantage.
"It's always hard to go on the road and get a win in MLS, said defender Josh Williams. "It's a tough league."
Veteran defender Chad Marshall added "(It's) understanding what the other teams do well, and going in and trying to implement the plan."
Coach Robert Warzycha conceded letdowns like the recent loss in Montreal are going to happen, but pointed to games in Seattle, San Jose, and Toronto where the Crew got results despite a lengthy injury list.
"It's not easy to win on the road and I'd obviously love to have more points," he said. "I think under the circumstances, we are doing well."
Despite recent disappointment, the team is eager to get back to winning ways. Williams was clear on the team's goal the next two weeks.
"We expect nothing less than six points when they come in here," he said.
The job won't be easy, and the Crew are not underestimating Sporting Kansas City or D.C. United.
"(They both have) got a lot of good attacking players, it's going to be difficult," said Marshall. "(It's) what we expect to do at home, get three points"
Midfielder Milovan Mirosevic is new to MLS but has already familiarized himself with the American system of playoffs and understands the weight these games carry.
Mirosevic was quick to bring up the goal during the pivotal home swing.
"Six points for sure," he stated. "We are going to play the two top teams in our conference. It's going to be tough, but playing at home is easier for us."
The Crew face the home stand still struggling with a lengthy injury list. Mirosevic, fellow midfielder Dilly Duka, and defenders Julius James and Carlos Mendes are struggling to return. The Crew has only used the same lineup from week to week twice in 2012.
The Crew look to extend a three game home winning streak starting on Saturday night. Two wins would put them back in the thick of the playoff spots. Anything less would leave them ground to make up with two less home games to do it in.