Dominic Oduro finally getting comfortable in Columbus Crew's new-look offense
OBETZ, Ohio – Despite scoring more goals than any team in the top half of MLS' Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew still haven't found a way to integrate last year's leading scorer Dominic Oduro into their attack.
But while Oduro may not have any goals in 2014, a dangerous outing in San Jose including a would-be game-winning goal that hit the bar, Oduro and his teammates are feeling better about having the speedy Ghanaian up top heading into Saturday’s home matchup with D.C. United (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“We've been doing a lot of work in practice, and San Jose was the proof that we did get something going,” Oduro said. “The movement was better in the box. I had to come back to get the ball, and it was way better than we thought. So it's a matter of progressing from that to the D.C. game. Hopefully we can make that happen.”
Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, who has had the tough decision of naming Oduro or Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta his lone forward in his 4-2-3-1 system, said that he saw “a lot more” from Oduro in the San Jose draw.
“I think he had a good performance, strong performance,” Berhalter said. “Part of it was the team getting used to how he plays as well. We were able to find him in better spots, we were able to make him more dangerous.”
The team adjusting to Oduro is key. The MLS veteran loves to stretch opposing defenses, and largely played on the wing in 2013. But in Berhalter's possession-oriented offense, Oduro needs to adjust to playing as the target man and holding up play to get others involved, a process that the team is still working on.
“We're not a team that's going to play on the counter attack,” Berhalter said. “We have a lot of the ball in our games, so it's not going to be a constant open field where you can get behind the defense. It's a different type of game, but we can use him in a lot of our movements that we're trying to do.”
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Oduro did sprain an ankle in training this week but told reporters it's “nothing to worry about.”
“I've done a little rehab, and it feels good right now,” he said. “We'll give it a go tomorrow, but it's still day-by-day. Personally, I feel I'm good to go, but you've got to take it easy, you've got to be smart about it.”
Berhalter was non-committal about Oduro's chances of returning to the lineup against D.C. United, but said he felt comfortable with Arrieta or rookie Adam Bedell if Oduro couldn't go.