Injuries force Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha to juggle lineup vs. Toronto FC
OBETZ, Ohio – Columbus Crew manager Robert Warzycha likes to keep his starting lineup a secret from the media, but it wasn't too hard to figure it out for a few weeks when he went with the same XI for four straight matches earlier this season.
However, speaking after Thursday's practice, it's apparent even two days before the game at Toronto FC (Saturday, 5 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) that he is not sure who to put on the field because of injuries.
Center back Chad Marshall is out for sure after straining a hamstring last week vs. Colorado, but his replacement could depend on the health of Danny O'Rourke, the midfielder/defender who missed the last match with a sprained ankle.
"We'll see," Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com of O'Rourke's availability for Saturday.
He had the same reply when asked about Agustín Viana, the central midfielder for the first seven matches alongside O'Rourke, who was 20 minutes into his first start at left back on April 27 when he was replaced because of a hamstring injury of his own. Viana has not played the last two games.
If O'Rourke and Viana aren't cleared for Saturday, the muddied picture becomes a little clearer.
Matías Sánchez made his first MLS start in midfield for O'Rourke against the Rapids and gave a good account of himself, partnering with Tony Tchani. Warzycha likely would stick with that combo for a second straight week.
"Obviously not getting any first-team minutes, or even being on the bench, is not ideal, but that's the cards that have been dealt," Gehrig told MLSsoccer.com. "Last year I had good experiences with these kind of situations and not just last year, but the year before. They have helped me prepare for Saturday if called upon."
Gehrig has 20 career appearances with 12 starts, including eight last year.
"He's here every day in practice and doing well," Warzycha said. "He plays the reserve games in that same position.
"Gehrig is ready to play. If he does his job, he'll be fine. If Josh Williams goes over there and does his job, he'll be fine, too."
A Williams start at center back could mean an MLS debut for Homegrown rookie right back Chad Barson.
Craig Merz covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com.