The Columbus Crew kept their perfect preseason record with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire. Federico Higuaín and Sercan Guvenesik. The 11:30 am start time made for perfect lunchtime viewing in Columbus, albeit in my case on my phone.
The Crew appeared to start in their 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 hybrid. The defense was switched around from the weekend with Matt Lampson in goal and Josh Williams on the right with Agustin Viana on the left. Tyson Wahl and Chad Marshall were in the center. Kevan George and Tony Tchani played centrally with Eddie Gaven out right and Justin Meram on the left. Higuain sat behind Ryan Finley was the target forward.
Both teams were in preseason form with the blustery wind not helping the flow of the game. The Fire and Crew sprayed passes and lost possession often. Once the teams settled a little, Columbus had the better of the play early on.
The first goal would be set up as Gaven was taken down in the box by the Fire's trialist goalkeeper Neal Kitson. Higuaín cooly sent the 'keeper the wrong way to give the Crew the lead in the 21st minute.
The next flash of brilliance would come in the second half. Ethan Finlay picked up a loose ball and dribbled down the right side and had a couple options to pick out. He chose Guvenesik, who half volleyed the ball from near the goalmouth to extend the lead to 2-0 in the 61st minute. The Fire would pull one back in the 89th as Yazid Atouba would fire a long range shot to beat Daniel Withrow.
It appears that Robert Warzycha is set on his current formation as the Crew played the same setup they did the second half of the 2012 season. Finley was the target player instead of Jairo Arrieta, but it was still Higuaín that the free role underneath the striker to make things happen.
Higuaín was also named captain for the game over Marshall. Robert Warzycha talked about giving other people a shot to show they can lead the team. Several players will wear the armband during the preseason. Marshall's longterm status as team captain is unknown.
Viana struggled to work together with his teammates. This is to be expected as he needs to gain fitness and practice with the rest of the team to develop an understanding of how Robert Warzycha wants to play.
Konrad Warzycha got minutes with the second team at the expense Krystian Witkowski. Warzycha's play was mixed. He did draw a couple fouls, but he also gave the ball away too often.
Sercan Guvenesik now leads the Crew with two goals in the preseason. Unfortunately, soon after scoring his goal, he went down with a hamstring injury. It comes at a bad time as he tries to impress the staff and stick with the team.
The Crew finish up their training in Bradenton with a match against New York on Friday at 11:00am. They will head back to Columbus on Saturday to train until the 6th before returning to Florida for the Disney Pro Classic.