Report from the Practice Pitch: more preseason

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Notes from Friday's practice. Roster trimming, conditioning, and conversations with the two newest Crew players.

Notes from practice

  • During the allotted time for the media to watch (the last 15 or so minutes), the focus was on conditioning.
  • Gregg Berhalter has stated that this team will be one of the most fit in the league and that certainly seemed to be the case.
  • The team did several rounds of suicides with minimal breaks.
  • By the end, most players were exhausted, coaches encouraged them throughout that nothing comes easy and the work they put in now will help them steal late wins.
  • The Crew have an off day Saturday and will travel to Orlando for the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Sunday.

Berhalter Update

  • Berhalter indicated that they released trialist Konrad Warzycha and midfielder Shawn Sloan. He said cutting players is the worst part of the job. He hopes to help them land with another team so they can continue their careers
  • Made it official that they signed midfielder Kingsley "Fifi" Baiden and defender Ben Sweat. Called Baiden a warrior and said Sweat will be a good player, both could see the field this year.  There are still a couple of unsigned players, Adam Bedell and Patrick Slogic, that will continue to be evaluated in Orlando.
  • He said they are still waiting to see how homegrown product Matt Wiet returns from injury. He will not travel with the team to Orlando and could be a candidate for injured reserve.
  • Berhalter likes to have four goalkeepers to train with and would like to stick with that through preseason.
  • He would like a core group of midfielders he can count on. Believes they have options in the middle of the pitch.
  • Says watching Higuain has been incredible, but believes he can do more in terms of pushing his teammates to get to his level.
  • Berhalter called Higuain "the focal point our game plan." They want him moving to free him up from defenders.

Fifi Baiden

  • Said it felt great to sign a professional contract, called it a "dream come true."
  • He said he knew it would be tough to make the team and the group would be competitive when he was drafted. Just came in and worked hard, gave 110%.
  • Told us that Oduro gave him his Papa John's rewards card and told him to call them and order whatever whenever he wants. Said he's been very helpful with settling in with the team and how they play. Dom called him when he got drafted due to the Ghanaian connection and congratulated him.

Ben Sweat

  • Called signing with the Crew "super exciting." Said he's excited to come in the league at this point with a great team and new coaching staff.
  • Says he has improved defensively already in preseason. Noted the speed of play is definitely faster. He is pushing to learn the positioning defensively because he knows he has the athleticism to play.
  • Sweat said he knows he was drafted because of his attacking abilities at outside back.
  • Says he's going to buy a car and get an apartment with the money from his new contract. Currently has been getting rides form Bedell and living in a hotel with some of the other unsigned players.
  • He says he has high expectations for the team and the coaching staff this year. Says he knows the team will be "fit as hell" this season.
  • Said the time in Orlando will be more tactical and getting ready for game play.
  • Sweat said Berhalter's system, with the outside backs heavily involved in the attack, is exactly the system in which he wants to play. He doesn't have to worry about getting back as quickly because other teammates will cover.
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