Crew finally getting healthy after recent string of injuries
OBETZ, Ohio — Crew coach Robert Warzycha wore a compression sleeve on his right leg because of a slight hamstring strain for Tuesday’s training.
He was okay, but stayed on the sideline during an 8 vs. 8 scrimmage that he might otherwise have been in the middle of.
The coach’s ailment is emblematic of what’s been happening lately with his team. The rash of injuries seems to be abating a bit, as half-a-dozen players who were unavailable for Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Chicago were on the field Tuesday.
Foremost were forwards Tommy Heinemann and Emilio Rentería. Warzycha is optimistic both will be ready for Saturday’s match at Houston.
Their absences, and those of injured midfielders such as Dilly Duka, Leandre Griffit and Bernardo Anor — and midfielder Robbie Rogers being with the US national team — left Warzycha with limited offensive options against the Fire.
The Crew struggled, especially in the midfield, and allowed the winner in stoppage time. The lone attacking player Warzycha had in reserve was 19-year-old forward Aaron Horton, the Crew’s first Home Grown player who made his debut five days earlier against Real Salt Lake.
Unlike that match where the Crew was on the offensive in search of an insurance goal, Warzycha felt Sunday’s game was not suited for Horton. Instead, he inserted more defensive-minded midfielders Kevin Burns and Dejan Rusmir in the second half.
“I was trying to help the midfielders and the team possess the ball,” Warzycha said. “It was a completely different game than Salt Lake. Salt Lake was more emotional. [Horton] was fired up. Here, I’m asking the kid to change the result or the way we’re playing. I couldn’t throw him under the bus.”
The only sure bets not to be available Saturday are defender Shaun Francis (left hamstring) and midfielder Duka (right ankle sprain) and Griffit (abdominal strain), although striker Jeff Cunningham has a sore hamstring and did stretching exercises Tuesday instead of practicing.
Meanwhile, midfielder Danny O’Rourke is training for his first match of the season after left knee surgery in November.
When that will be is in question.
“That’s up to him,” Warzycha said. “He’s a veteran. He knows when he’s ready. If he tells me he’s 100 percent, I’d stick him in the games.”
While several players have elected not to talk the media at various times this season, defender Sebastián Miranda reached a milestone Sunday in his first season in America when he did his first interview in English.
“I studied English in Chile,” he said Tuesday sans translator again. “I like this language. I speak not so well yet but I try to speak with my [defensive] partners, with my coaches. I learn at my house and on TV.
“I try to speak with my neighbor or at the supermarket,” he added. “Wherever I go, I try to speak English, no Spanish, so I can learn more. My wife is studying for English, maybe I go later.”
Warzycha is impressed.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a really, really huge pro. He’s an example for everybody," said the coach. "Six months ago he came here and already he is giving interviews in English.”