COLUMBUS – Jairo Arrieta and newcomer Dominic Oduro had just begun developing a good relationship during the first three matches of the season when a Costa Rican national team call-up sent Arrieta away for a pair of World Cup qualifiers.
When the forward returned he found that Oduro had moved from midfield to take his spot at center forward and Arrieta was relegated to playing only 88 minutes as a substitute over a three-game period since coming back to the team.
Finally, Crew manager Robert Warzycha reunited the two in the starting lineup on Saturday against D.C. United and the result was a goal by Oduro, who was back on the right flank, on a cross from Arrieta in the 15th minute. It was the spark to the Crew's 3-0 victory.
"We've been working really hard this week trying to as much as possible to get something together," Oduro told MLSsoccer.com. "This was a breakthrough. Of all the games we played together this is the one we really combined well."
Arrieta took a pass from Eddie Gaven and whipped in a sharp service into the middle of the box for Oduro to finish his team-high fourth goal and third in the past four games.
Oduro had six goals in 33 games for Chicago last season before a February trade.
Arrieta also earned a corner kick that led to Josh Williams scoring off an assist by Federico Higuain in the 26th minute and he drew a penalty that Federico Higuain converted in first-half stoppage time.
"I'm very pleased," Arrieta said through a team translator. "I've been working with the team to be able to earn that [starting job] back. Unfortunately with the trip to the national team, coming back I had to work that much harder to show the coach. I came to this team to be a starter."
Warzycha said he didn't see any added inspiration from Arrieta just because he was starting again.
"If you look at his game at Chicago and his game in Montreal [both of the bench] he is highly motivated every single game," he said. "He is exactly the same. He is working hard and likes the physical contact. Sometimes he's just more successful."
That bodes well for the Crew, says Oduro: "Today what we did is something we have to grow on. This is a genesis of how the three of us with Higuain can combine our forces to play."
Craig Merz covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com