Under a cloudy Columbus sky and the watchful eye of the mortally wounded Stadium scoreboard; Crew reserve players took on a group of college players from WVU.
Here was the Crew Starting Lineup:
GK: Matt Lampson*
RB: Chad Barson
CB: Eric Gehrig
CB: Kevan George
LB: Kyle Hyland [Assist]
CDM: Konrad Warzycha
CDM: Matias Sanchez
RM: Ben Speas* [Assist]
CAM: Justin Meram
LM: Ethan Finlay* [Goal, Assist]
CF: Ryan Finley* [Goal]
*SUBS: Aaron Schoenfeld [Goal, Assist], Bernardo Anor [Goal], Shawn Sloan, Daniel Withrow.
This is a fairly experienced group and it showed as the Crew handled an energetic college side pretty well. Scrimmages like this aren’t so much about results as they are about getting players match fitness and experience in a competitive environment.
With that, here are some standout / callouts:
Ryan Finley had a very nice goal in the first half in a tight space - Kyle Hyland (notable, more later) played a controlled header into the box from about 20 yards out that Finley gathered, worked past two defenders and played the ball across the goalmouth that found its way in.
Finley was in the game for most of the match and played very well. His movement and touch on his shots tells me that he is has the ability to be a good goal scorer in this league. He is more on the ‘crafty’ side where club starters/counterparts in Jairo Arrieta and Dominic Oduro are more direct and all out speed.
With about 15 minutes remaining, Aaron Schoenfeld entered the match and scored about a minute later off a workmanlike cross from Mr. Ethan Finlay. From there Schoenfeld went on to place a absolutely beautiful cross from the far right sideline all the way past multiple defenders that found a streaking Bernardo Anor for a goal.
I’m not sure I knew Schoenfeld had this in him. His play during his limited minutes was excellent.
Ben Speas and Ethan Finlay looked comfortable and were dangerous throughout. In fact, Speas found Ethan for a goal about midway through the first half.
Justin Meram is sort of another story. He was not comfortable and was trying to do everything all at once. During the match he once again showed his breathtaking individual ability to get past defenders (or work around them). He’s one of those players whose mind is two steps ahead but there is an urgency to his play and a bit of selfishness. Meram is in his third year with this team so it is hard to blame him. He can be a starter in MLS as an advanced player. He is a forward (RE: selfishness is required trait). But the Crew keep him in the middle.
Matias Sanchez looked good, if not reckless. Some of that could have been due to the fact that Konrad Warzycha, playing beside him as defensive midfielder, looked disinterested in the game (or didn’t want to be there) and so by comparison - - and all. Yeah. Sanchez finally looked like a player that has spent his whole life on a soccer pitch. He’s getting up off the mat faster after contact and played confidently (what he needs more of instead of raw energy).
Eric Gehrig didn’t have a whole lot to do but was solid when things came his way. You’ve got to wonder at this point, like Meram, if he has had enough of this kind of match. He is clearly better than anything WVU threw at him. Gehrig is almost a full on vet. Wouldn’t mind seeing him on the first team more when the Crew schedule gets crowded later in the year (“crowded” as in the MLS definition of the word).
Kevan George filled in fine at center back and looked alright when he was moved up to defensive mid when Drew Beckie came in as a late sub. Kevan is a decent player but not sure he is what many think. Beckie reminds me of Josh Williams two years ago. I’ve seen him play all across the backline in preseason, reserve and scrimmages. He’s got a good build and is athletic. So far so good.
On the left side was Kyle Hyland. He is a very active player and doesn’t seem to play with any fear. His work was rewarded when he contributed directly to Ryan’s goal.
Matt Lampson wasn’t ever tested but did have a number incidents where he played the ball very poorly upon restarts. He wasn’t all there today. Daniel Withrow came in late to see some action. That’s about it.
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• Nice to see the Crew working the same general formation (4-2-3-1) with the Reserve team as they do on the Senior side. It was not this way last year.
• Major League Soccer likes to try and regulate, monitor, cap and control just about everything when it comes to competitive equality between clubs. Games like this one against WVU might seem like a throw away for most fans but it is extremely valuable to the club. Find the holes and get after it. One of the things I would like the Crew to do is to link up with a USL side, at least in name. Games, games, games.
• Kyle Hyland was a pleasant surprise today but it is Ethan Finlay who is really turning my head. Really impressive thus far this year in the preseason, reserve and this match. He’s a guy I would want on my team.
• Aaron Schoenfeld also made an impression today. Best I have seen him. Against a collegiate side but I have seen him against collegiate sides. This was a good performance.
• A little long on a reserve team / scrimmage and only on the Crew, but -- West By God, if y’all are out there (Love, a Virginian). There were a bunch that travelled to the game. Thanks for reading.