Crew creeping back into playoff race

Coming off a physical 1-0 road win, it seemed like the Columbus Crew would have a difficult time equaling that performance against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night.

Instead, the Crew cruised to a 3-0 win, their third victory in a row, and moved within nine points of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"The team is playing better and that's what's important," said Crew interim coach Robert Warzycha. "Whether we are going to get to the playoffs or not, that is another question."

Based on their recent performance -- three consecutive shutouts and a 6-3-1 record since Warzycha took over as boss -- the Crew are poised to make a late playoff run.

With the win, the Crew improved to 30 points on the season, nine off the fourth place Chicago Fire. The road win also was their second of the year, the first coming a week ago at Kansas City.

"The win over Kansas City last week wasn't great but it was solid," said John Wolyniec, who netted two goals against Chivas. "Tonight everything just came together. We did all the right things and it just shows that our confidence is growing.

"We dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the season but now we're looking to fight out of it. We're fighting for the playoffs and everyone is working very hard."

Though the playoffs are in sight, postseason talk is premature to Warzycha.

"We just have to keep trying to win game after game after game and see what happens next," said Warzycha.

What happened Saturday was not pleasant for a Chivas squad playing their first home game with three of their refuerzos: Francisco Palencia, Juan Pablo Garcia and goalkeeper Sergio Garcia.

Cornell Glen and Wolyniec scorched the Chivas defense, Glen with a goal and an assist and Wolyniec netting two goals in a 10-minute span in the second half, and the Crew backline stifled Chivas' new-look attack.

"Wolyniec was in the right place at the right time, he scored two beautiful goals," said Warzycha. "Every time he got the ball, he did something good with it and that was huge for us."

On Glen's inspired performance: "Cornell is fast and when he's into the game, he's one of the best players on the field."

Playing alongside Glen paid dividends for Wolyniec.

"Cornell is so fast and I just have to be confident that he's going to beat his man and try to put myself in a good spot and see where the ball ends up and try to put it away," said Wolyniec, whose two goals give him five on the
year.

"When you have three forwards and the guys on the outside have as much speed as Cornell and Marcus (Storey) if you get the ball to them early, it's off to the races."

Glen, who was a consistent threat in the Chivas' third of the field, is playing with a mission.

"I'm trying to get back in form and score some goals to get back on the national team and also to make it to the playoffs," said the Trinidad and Tobago national. "That's what's driving me right now."

Chad Marshall and Robin Fraser led the Crew defense, successfully thwarting any offensive efforts by Palencia and "Loquito" Garcia.

"Chad played very strong, our whole defense played very strong," said Warzycha. "He had a very good game and if he keeps playing the way he did tonight, he's going to be one of the best defenders in the league."

Now, the Crew hope to carry their momentum forward through a tough stretch of three matches in 11 days, two of which are against the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution.

"Going into New England is going to be tough," said Glen. "We have to go in there and try to do what the coach wants us to. Coach Warzycha has good ideas, he knows what he wants and we just have to go out and do it and hopefully we'll come out on top."

Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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