OBETZ, Ohio – There will be no saving the healthy starters for the back end of a two-game set at D.C. United, Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
The first game Wednesday in RFK Stadium is a semifinal in the US Open Cup, with the winner facing either Seattle Sounders FC or Chivas USA in October.
“The Open Cup is another trophy we’d like to have,” Warzycha said. “We’re going to do everything we can to win the game.”
Either way, the rematch is on Saturday when the teams return to MLS play with the Crew in hot pursuit of Los Angeles for the Supporters’ Shield. They are also trying to fend off second-place New York in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re putting our all into this game Wednesday,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “We have a chance to do something really special.
“Once that’s over we can put all our focus on [Saturday],” he added. “It’s always hard because you put so much into a game physically and emotionally, but this team has done a great job throughout this year and last year, with having so many games, of putting your all into one then trying as best as you can to leave that in the past and go onto the next one.”
The Crew (12-5-5) know D.C. United will go all-out Wednesday because of their poor MLS record (4-15-3).
“They circled this game a while back,” forward Jason Garey said. “They haven’t had the best season so far, and they know they’re on the outside looking in as far as chances to get in the playoffs.”
MISSING IN ACTION
The Crew will be short-handed for the games in DC, but by how much is in question.
The team has two players below the 24-man roster limit. Forward Emilio Renteria will be away with the Venezuelan National Team this week, while midfielders Robbie Rogers (knee) and Emmanuel Ekpo (groin) did not make the trip.
Also, midfielder Adam Moffat is suspended for Saturday’s game, though he is eligible for Wednesday.
Defender Gino Padula (knee) has been cleared to play but Defender of the Year Chad Marshall had a second MRI on his right knee Monday.
“We’ll see after the MRI what the next step is going to be,” Warzycha said. “I think he’s good to go. If he’s going to play as well as he is right now with that injury, he’ll continue to play.”
There may be some positive news on the roster front. Peruvian forward Andrés Mendoza could get his International Transfer Certificate on Thursday and be added for Saturday’s game.
If so, don’t be surprised if he sees action. Mendoza has been training with the Crew for a month.
Meanwhile, 2010 SuperDraft pick Kwaku Nyamekye has a hearing Thursday in Switzerland for a work permit that could enable him to fill the 24th spot.
He’s a central defender in a position well-stocked with Marshall, Andy Iro and Eric Brunner, but Marshall’s ongoing knee problems could make Nyamekye a valuable cover for some of the Champions League games.
“I have a ton of respect for Ben Olsen. I think a lot of guys around the league do knowing him as a player. He’s going to get those guys motivated and fighting for each other the way he used to play.” — Garey on DC’s interim coach.