Home Sweet Home
There is some nervous energy amongst the Crew and their fans. I could sense it when I went to the rally last night for my Columbus Underground story (a story which is now up). The team hasn’t played their best and faces elimination and an early end to the season.
This is not a lighthearted group right now. They haven’t scored in almost a month. There is that bit of controversy about Schelotto not starting. Quite a few of the players gave the required quotes about a do or die game and dreaming about the Cup, but the stress of being number one was apparent on many of the players faces.
There isn’t the looseness that I have seen before; this team is all business. Frankie Hejduk had a few words for the assembled masses about taking the game to visiting Real Salt Lake. Jed Zayner talked about the home crowd being the fuel to drive the team forward, but the realities of being the favorite are really starting to set in. They are the marked men, Salt Lake took a good shot at them on Saturday and now are 90 minutes away from knocking out the champs.
I guess that’s why I found the loosest and most relaxed person at the rally was Coach Warzycha. He even joked about the Guille controversy by saying “I read a lot this week so I am now clear on who will play on Thursday.” For all of the criticism that came his way this week, Robert is looking past it to the game. A Crew win and he will look like a genius.
With a goalless streak and 3 straight losses, this is a team that is playing tight. The longer the game goes on Thursday without a goal; the tighter I bet they get. Sometimes goal scoring is more mental that physical. An early goal may just open the floodgates and restore a little confidence and swagger to the champs. Without that championship swagger, home field advantage won’t be enough.