Fri, 18 Oct 2019

Probable playoff-bound Crew resting some vs. Timbers

Sports Xchange
18 Sep 2018, 17:03 GMT+10

With the playoffs looking more and more likely for his team, Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berkhalter is focusing on rest.

Berhalter said he would likely send a few players home to Columbus after the Crew's 0-0 draw in steamy Dallas on Saturday.

The rest will be in Portland to take on the Timbers on Wednesday evening at Providence Park.

"Part of it is going to be assessing where guys are at and we have a plan and we just have to see if we're able to stick to it based on availability," he said Saturday. "We'll do a (regeneration session on Sunday) and then we'll travel to Portland and we'll be based in Portland for two and a half days.

"It's about recovery now, nutrition and sleep. It's up to the guys to maintain themselves and get their bodies ready to play again in Portland. It's gonna be a difficult game but in a good atmosphere."

Wednesday's match will be the second of three in eight days for Columbus (12-8-8), which sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, nine points clear of seventh-place D.C. United. The Crew returns home to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

After holding FC Dallas scoreless on Saturday, Columbus sports the best road defense in MLS. The team leads the league in shutouts, goals conceded and shots on target allowed.

"It's a real collective effort, working together," Berhalter told the team's website. "Great compactness, blocking shots, minimizing the space. Our defense starts from the two up top, but it's a team effort. It's 11 guys and I think they did a good job tonight.

"I think our forwards did an outstanding job of getting pressure to their center backs. (Dallas) resorted to playing a lot of long balls, and we have good center backs in the air. I think it played into our hands a little bit."

That defense will pose a challenge to the Timbers (12-8-8), who seemed to idle after taking an early lead on an own goal against Houston before giving up four unanswered goals in a 4-1 loss.

"I think after the own goal, we got a little bit overconfident with the ball," Diego Chara said, according to The Oregonian. "We started losing the ball, giving space to them and they were very dangerous in counter-attack."

Portland leads Vancouver by four points for the last Western Conference playoff spot and is even with fifth-place Seattle on points (44). Both the Timbers and Sounders, who host the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, both have a change to leapfrog Real Salt Lake (45 points) for fourth place.

"The good part is the next game is at home against Columbus, and we have to get those three points," Chara said. "We know the standings are very tight, and we have to be better."

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