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Final

Crew View: Struggling to take advantage

Robert Warzycha

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Crew’s 2-1-3 record might be acceptable to some because of the extensive reconfiguring of the team in the offseason, but it could be better considering the breaks that have gone their way:

There have been no serious in-season injuries such as those suffered by Seattle’s Steve Zakuani and 2010 MVP David Ferreira of FC Dallas last week.

Crew midfielder/defender Danny O’Rourke has not played this year but that was expected after undergoing knee surgery in November. The team planned accordingly and made adjustments.

Left back Shaun Francis (hamstring) was hurt before the opener and has not returned, but rookie Rich Balchan had been playing extensively during the preseason and stepped in admirably.

Forwards Andres Mendoza and Emilio Renteria had muscle injuries that kept each out of a game, but the Crew is fortunate that their most serious injury has been to retired midfielder-turned-broadcaster Duncan Oughton, who fractured his left leg at practice last week after subbing in for injured defender Josh Williams.

The Crew’s opponents have had a player ejected in two straight games and three of the past four, while no Columbus player has seen red this season.

During the combined 123 minutes of having the man advantage, the Crew have scored three goals, including one via penalty kick.

“I think as a team absolutely we have to be smarter,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “We have to figure out how to play with a man up.”

There can’t be any complaints about the schedule so far. The games have been split evenly home and away and the Crew have traveled out of the Eastern time zone only once (April 9 at Chivas USA) and have not played during midweek.

The next two games are at Crew Stadium (Saturday vs. Portland and May 7 against Seattle) before they head to the West Coast for back-to-back matches vs. San Jose and Portland.

Also, the record of the Crew’s six opponents is 10-14-12.

Even though the Crew stretched their unbeaten streak to 2-0-3 after a 1-1 tie Saturday at Toronto FC, the full points were for the taking when TFC led 1-0 but were down to 10 players following Tony Tchani’s sending off in the 42nd minute.

Renteria equalized in the 49th minute, but the Crew should have won, just as they left points on the table in 0-0 draw against New York on March 26.

“If we let our frustration get the better of us, then it will affect our game,” forward Tommy Heinemann said.

A NUMBER OF THINGS

5 – Goals for the Crew

2 – Even-strength goals

1 – Goal (Robbie Rogers vs. Sporting Kansas City on April 16) the Crew has scored from open play while playing 11 v. 11. The other even-strength score was Rogers’ PK vs. D.C. United.

0 – Goals off 28 corner kicks.