OBETZ, Ohio – The new-look Crew witnessed first-hand how a thunderous home crowd can drive a team forward last weekend in RFK Stadium. A raucous atmosphere helped D.C. United to a 3-1 win in the season opener.
Now, it’s the Crew’s turn to play in front of their supporters on Saturday against New York (4 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), and goalkeeper William Hesmer wants the fans to bring the noise and passion they’ve provided since 2008.
“I hope they bring the same fire and passion they’ve brought to us the past three years,” he said. “I know a lot of fan favorites are gone but it’s about the name on the front of the jersey and that’s their city. We want to go out there and make them proud and hopefully some new guys will emerge, and not take their place, but ease the burden of such great guys that are gone.”
Favorites such as Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Duncan Oughton, Steven Lenhart and Jason Garey did not return but are not forgotten, especially after the opening game thrashing Columbus took in DC.
“Absolutely there is pressure every single game, especially on us right now,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “You have to see who we have as opposed to the players we had. You can’t live in the past all the time.”
The recent history for the Crew has been one of a stingy club in the friendly confines of Crew Stadium. They were 10-3-2 at home in 2010 and are 30-7-8 in the regular season in Columbus since 2008. All seven losses have been shut-outs.
[inline_node:313123]“We want to be good at home,” defender Chad Marshall said. “We don’t want to drop points. That’s where you need to pick up your wins.”
Added Warzycha, “It’s a good record. You obviously want to win every game at home. If not home, where?”
Despite the impressive mark, the Crew were eliminated at home in the first round of the playoffs the past two years (they lost the second leg to Real Salt Lake in 2009 and beat Colorado last season only to lose on penalty kicks after the aggregate was tied).
“I don’t think it changes the reputation [of Crew Stadium],” Hesmer said. “Teams still come in here with a lot of respect for us. Maybe it’s changed this year because the names on the back of the jerseys have changed. [The media] likes to write we’re not the same. We’ve got to go out there and prove we’re still the same tough team.”
Columbus will try to right themselves against a New York side that is missing four starters due to national team call-ups as well as forward Thierry Henry to a hamstring injury and ‘keeper Greg Sutton to a concussion.
Warzycha is more concerned about how his team will respond after a dismal first-game effort.
He’s had to deal with a tumultuous week with reports that midfielder Robbie Rogers requested a trade after not starting the opener. Rogers may get the first XI nod Saturday, and expect rookie left back Rich Balchan to switch sides with veteran Sebastian Miranda.
The center midfield and forward spots could be in for a revision as well. Reserve forward Tom Heinemann spent a lot of time paired with Andres Mendoza on the first team this week.
Hesmer hopes the combination of the short-handed Red Bulls and fan support will make the difference this week.
“Every time we step on field at home we’re thinking it’s got to be three points,” he said.