An unmistakable confidence has pervaded Columbus Crew training sessions in the week leading up to this Saturday’s home-leg playoff match against the Colorado Rapids, despite trailing 1-0 in total goals scored.
“We are very confident that we can overcome this deficit,” said Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha on Thursday.
Warzycha’s assertiveness has rubbed off on Crew players. Andy Gruenebaum, who will be the Crew’s starting goalkeeper Saturday, is relishing the pressure.
“We’re all very confident, it is true,” Gruenebaum said. “No one is freaking out, there’s no frantic behavior. This is what we play for, to be the higher seed and to have this game at home.”
The Rapids were aggressive and took advantage of defensive miscues by Columbus en route to a 1-0 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the opening leg of the series on Oct. 28. Gruenebaum hopes to guide the Crew to a stronger defensive showing Saturday.
“As a defensive unit, we need to keep a high line and maintain pressure on the ball and their big playmakers like Conor Casey and [Omar] Cummings,” Gruenebaum said.
Robbie Rogers started in the midfield for the Crew in the first leg match at Colorado and provided insight into Saturday night’s must-win contest.
“It’s positive in the locker room right now, we’ll be keeping the ball better and we’ll tighten it up on defense,” he said.
With the Crew organization expecting a sizable turn-out for Saturday’s match, Rogers sees the loyal Columbus fan base as the final piece of the winning equation.
“Just being here at home with all the fan groups is special,” Rogers said. “We have a close connection with all the people in this stadium. They’re the best in the MLS, so the atmosphere is going to be in our favor. This is in our hands.”