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Eastern Conference Championship

Crew Notes: Meram biding his time with reserves

OBETZ, Ohio — All Justin Meram can do is take advantage of his limited opportunities to move up the Crew depth chart at forward.

Monday was one of those instances, and the striker put himself in the right place at the right time to stab home a goal in the 88th minute, giving the Crew reserves a 1-0 victory over New England on Monday.

“I tried to make an impact,” the rookie from Michigan said. “It wasn’t the hardest goal. I just put my foot out.”

He’s the fifth forward on a team using a lone striker for most of the season and has yet to play a regular season match. Cracking the lineup won’t be easy with the names ahead of him on the depth chart:

Emilio Rentería is tied for second in MLS with four goals; Designated Player Andrés Mendoza has played sparingly in the past six matches and has totaled one goal (penalty kick) in 285 minutes; and Jeff Cunningham still needs one goal to tie the MLS career record of 133, but has spent only 55 minutes on the field since playing two-thirds of the opener.

The fourth forward is Tommy Heinemann, in his first season after two years in the lower divisions of the US soccer pyramid. He has 126 minutes to his credit.

“They’re veterans,” Meram said. “You’ve got to put your time in. It’s tough because you want to play but, at the same time, there’s not much you can do. You have to keep working hard and scoring in the reserve games and hopefully I’ll get my chance.”

Coach Robert Warzycha stresses patience to Meram and other Crew youngsters.

“He’s trying hard,” Warzycha said. “First things first. The younger players have to learn the system and their responsibilities on the field.”

PRIM NOT PROPER

Santiago Prim (pronounced "Preem"), a 20-year-old midfielder signed out of Argentina on April 26, suffered a sprained right ankle and strained ligaments after a tackle in Monday’s game but is thankful he will be out only two to four weeks.

“I’ve had injuries before in my career, but this is the first time I’ve heard a sound and felt something,” he said. “I thought it was a bone breaking or dislocated. Obviously it slows me down at adapting, but it’s one of those things that happens.”

TAKING A LOOK

Forward trialist Arnhold Rivas, 21, played in Monday's reserve match and is scheduled to complete his training with the Crew on Thursday. He is on loan to Querétaro in the Mexican first division from Estudiantes Tecos.

“He’s a withdrawn forward, so we’ll see tomorrow whether he’s going to be available later,” Warzycha said. “I would like to see him a little bit more.”

Warzycha and technical director Brian Bliss will discuss whether to sign Rivas is in the future, but Warzycha gave a hint: “If he’s not going to make the team better right away, if he’s not a starter, probably we should wait.”