OBETZ, Ohio – Whether Cole Grossman is the Columbus Crew’s good-luck charm is open for debate.
But the fact that he has barely played in the past six weeks isn’t.
“I’m not satisfied with the way things have gone,” the second-year midfielder from Duke said. “I think I’ve handled it really well. I’ve stayed as fit as I can and I’ve worked really hard."
Grossman is in the running for his first start since Aug. 19 when the Crew host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online) because Danny O’Rourke will serve a one-game caution-points suspension.
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha never likes to tip his hand, as evidenced by a new policy implemented this week to limit media access to practices, but one scenario would have Grossman in the lineup. But other options include Dilly Duka or Tony Tchani.
If Grossman is not selected, he’ll be on the outside looking in once more after playing just 22 minutes in the past nine games.
“It’s 100 more times frustrating,” than when he appeared in only two games as a rookie, Grossman said.
His disappointment is noteworthy because Grossman is 3-0-2 as a starter this year against Seattle, D.C. United, LA, Sporting KC and Houston. In his 10 appearances, the Crew are 5-1-4.
“It might just be a coincidence,” he said. “What that record means, your guess is as good as mine. It’s not like my starts have come against bad teams.”
Warzycha said Grossman’s record shouldn’t factor into his decision as to who makes the first XI.
“Sometimes you have luck,” Warzycha said. “I’m sure he is doing something good that the stat is like this for him but I’m putting the best team on the field in my mind.”
Stars on the mend
Forwards Federico Higuaín (foot) and Jairo Arrieta (ankle) have curtailed some training this week, but Warzycha sounds unconcerned about their status for Sunday, barring any changes at practice on Saturday.
“If you chop both guys’ legs off then maybe they’ll not be ready,” the coach said. “Other than that they are going to be on the field.”
Still, Warzycha said Higuaín might be hampered by foot problems because he has no points in the past five games after getting three goals and six assists in his first five.
“I think it’s related a little bit to his injury,” Warzycha said. “But teams are not giving him the free kicks in areas that are dangerous so we can score, because that’s where he’s getting his points. And, obviously everybody is paying more attention to him I’m sure.”
Arrieta, too, has had to deal with a swollen ankle for over a month but he has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.
“It’s sore. I feel some pain,” he said. “As long as I can keep playing at a level I like I will keep playing.”