OBETZ, Ohio – Facing the challenge of handling the likes of Chris Wondolowski and San Jose's vaunted physical attack, the Columbus Crew know they're going to have to rise to the occasion – literally – to deal with the more physical team this weekend.
“They're a good team, especially at home,” Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “They're very physical, very good at set pieces, very good at crossing the ball, dangerous on throw-ins, any free kick and they can play.”
Berhalter said the team will have to focus on not letting Sunday’s game (3 pm ET; UniMas) at Earthquakes’ fortress Buck Shaw Stadium get, “chaotic,” where he says San Jose enjoys the more open, disorganized atmosphere. Central midfielder Wil Trapp said he knows he'll play a key role in managing the organized, passing style that Columbus likes to play.
“I just have to get on the ball when it starts to get hectic and back and forth and turns more into a track meet than a soccer game,” Trapp said. “That's the time when Gregg wants us to relax a little bit and string a couple of passes together and play our style instead of getting sucked into a style that suits them.”
But to deal with the physicality San Jose will throw at them, defender Josh Williams has a simpler approach.
“It's just about manning up,” he said. “It's not like we're going to grow overnight. We need to be physical, man up and know our responsibilities and get in the right areas.”
The Crew know that set pieces will be a key battle, especially when San Jose throws their greater size into the mix.
“They have some great height and strength and jumping ability,” Berhalter said. “You look at [defenders Clarence] Goodson, [Victor] Bernardez and [forwards Alan] Gordon or [Steven] Lenhart. Those are three top set-piece guys in the league, and they have them all on one team.”
- Get the latest headlines at TheCrew.com
More importantly, said Williams, will be for the Crew to not duplicate the poor focus they showed in last week's 2-0 home loss to Toronto FC. He said staying sharp for the entire match will be necessary against a team that loves a comeback.
“They're a good team, and we can't turn off,” Williams said. “We have to play for 90-plus minutes. They're a team that always likes to sneak in late and get one to win or tie it up, so I think it's got to be a complete team effort. From start to finish, we need to bring it and come out and play our style.”