COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew's injury crisis has reached the point where head coach Robert Warzycha could put together a full XI out of the players currently on the treatment table.
One of the most recent additions to that group – Crew captain and defensive anchor Chad Marshall – is still suffering concussion-like symptoms a week after being hit in the head with a ball, Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Friday.
Accordingly, Marshall will not play when Columbus welcome FC Dallas on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) and neither will rookie midfielder Kirk Urso (groin), bringing the number unavailable players to 11. And that's assuming midfielder Danny O’Rourke’s bothersome knee is fine.
Second-year defender Eric Gehrig will replace Marshall in the backline, as he did in the Crew’s 0-0 tie at Portland last week.
While Columbus (2-4-2) could point to the long injury list as a key factor behind their five-game winless streak, they maintain making excuses won’t cut it.
“Yeah, we have some guys hurt, we have some guys out, but the club that’s on the field has to do their job,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said.
The Crew simply can’t afford to wait until the squad gets healthy to make a push up the standings.
“Just hanging on and eking a point here or there, I think we’ll slip too far down to catch up even if we put a good series together in July and August,” technical director Brian Bliss added.
Even so, the team has to be eyeing mid-June as the reboot point. Following a home game against Chicago on May 26, they won’t have a match again until June 16.
By the time the much-needed break is over, injured players such as Marshall, Urso, Julius James, Olman Vargas, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ben Speas and Rich Balchan could be at full strength. Dilly Duka and Carlos Mendes will possibly be a month removed from the end of their long injury rehab stints and the newly-signed Chris Birchall will have worked himself into better shape.
Also, Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta will join the Crew at the end of June, about the same time the team has targeted adding a Designated Player.
“It’s only going to make us better having those guys come back from injury and have new guys come in,” Gaven said. “It will push everyone that much more."