|Vancouver Whitecaps Omar Salgado (L) heads the ball next to Columbus Crew Julius James during the second half of their MLS soccer match in Vancouver last season. (REUTERS)
COLUMBUS - The Columbus Crew will be trying to snap a three-game winless streak on Saturday when the club welcomes Vancouver Whitecaps FC to town.
Columbus had lost its previous two games before a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo, while Vancouver snapped a winless streak of four games with a 1-0 defeat of FC Dallas last time out.
There was plenty of encouragement for the Crew attack against Houston as the club not only netted two goals but also created a number of other chances.
But head coach Robert Warzycha will be concerned by the club's lack of success in defense, as Houston generated its share of openings.
Warzycha's team is dealing with a number of injuries to the back line, and the coach sounded frustrated following the draw with having to play so many players in defense early on this season.
"If we had all our players healthy and playing we would not give up so many goals and not as many players would see the field," Warzycha said. "Who knows? Maybe they would have had to wait a few more games to play some games. They are getting experience. In preseason you have your team. I don't think as many players would be on the field right now in this few games."
Vancouver is having no such trouble defensively as the club recorded its fifth clean sheet in seven games against Dallas, tying Sporting Kansas City for the most in MLS.
The win came after back-to-back defeats and came at a crucial time according to head coach Martin Rennie, who was eager to distance this year's team from the one that finished so poorly last campaign.
"When you lose two games in a row it adds a bit of pressure and especially the Whitecaps being a team that, without harping back to last season, didn't finish well last season," said Rennie. "Every time you step up in the standings it's important because what we're trying to do is to get into the playoffs and that race has already started and today was a big step towards that."
The win over Dallas may ultimately not determine whether or not Vancouver reaches the postseason in its second year in MLS, but it was enough to stave off any negativity that may have started creeping into the team.