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Practice Pitch Updates

After a third straight win to open the 2014 campaign, the Crew began their preparation for Saturday's match up with Toronto F.C. on Tuesday. Here are some updates from training.

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sport

As the gathered media entered practice, the Columbus Crew worked on their usual small-sided field. The team was in the middle of a four v. four game where the keeper began with the ball and distributed it to begin. The idea was to start a quick counter attack with each team a mix of offense and defense. After a shot, the team that had been on the attack would leave the field of play and a new team would come on as the defensive side. The goalkeeper for the new offensive group was encouraged to get the ball distributed quickly and off they went.

Here the team worked on quick counter attacks and getting numbers forward. Because players had to play both offense and defense, it demonstrated that everyone will be involved in the attack and defending at some point, everyone must be ready for both sides of the ball. It also emphasized to the keepers the importance of quick distribution to spring the counter.

The final drill was the usual small-sided scrimmage where the players rotated in and out based on their teams. The confined space kept the players thinking and playing fast, not dwelling on the ball too long.

Players of Note

The notes are more about the players that weren't present or available. The Black and Gold trained without captain Michael Parkhurst, who is in Phoenix with the U.S. Men's National Team preparing for Wednesday night's friendly with Mexico. Dominic Oduro was running outside the field of play, with recovering Daniel Paladini, after taking a knock in the Seattle Sounders game (more on that from Berhalter below), but did not participate in the final two drills.

Matt Wiet was back in training. The rookie, who has been sidelined since preseason, lined up at right back on his teams and did not look out of place. He appeared comfortable on the ball and was solid with his tackles.

The hero two weeks ago, Bernardo Anor, spent much of the final two drills playing in the middle or as a forward. This is likely due to Oduro sitting out, but could also be a reason why he has spent so much time centrally in games despite lining up out wide.

Conversation with Gregg Berhalter

  • Asked about putting in Justin Meram as a late attacking option, Berhalter said they wanted to put more pressure on the Sounders. Said they were a little nervous about the home team's counter attacks but based on their substitutes they realized it was okay to get him in and just had to figure out how to get him into the attack.
  • He said they went into Seattle and wanted to dominate and they had a lot of control. Admitted that the team made mistakes and the Sounders took advantage of them, but they held on. They wanted to give the team the chance to win the game because they had played well and earned that right.
  • Said in the first half the team was still getting used to playing on the wet turf. The message at halftime was "well done, keep it going. Let's limit some of the things we're doing, but keep on."
  • Pointed out that no team in the last two years has had a possession advantage like they had in the first half (11 v. 11) in Seattle. He sounded very proud of this fact.
  • Berhalter said everyone knows this team can still get better. Pointed specifically to their movements but said there were a lot of things they could clean up.
  • He said the team was meeting their expectations in the first half and that's why the team talk was positive. Asked why would he get mad at them when they're doing what they're asked.
  • Said he believes they are going to get the job done offensively with several guys chipping in. He said he's still waiting on his defenders to scored from set pieces. Listed Jario Arrieta, Oduro, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Meram, Ethan Finlay, Anor as guys that will have to chip in and do their part.
  • Said Oduro isn't fully integrated due to the suspension and not starting week two, but gave him what he was looking for in the start in Seattle. Said the injury was a charley horse, which can be severe and didn't know how he would come out of it once the blood starts to settle.
  • In regards to Steve Clark, he said he's been great. Specifically pointed to his big saves and communication. Said he's been fabulous for them and the save on Lamar Neagle kept the Crew from being down 2-0 and creating a big hole. Called the save, "amazing."
  • With Parkhurst gone, Berhalter said Wil Trapp just carried on as normal and leads by example.
  • Asked about Josh Williams completing 44 of (roughly) 63 passes, Berhalter said he can improve on that number and that they will keep working with him. They want him on the ball and part of the attacking group. He can get forward and put pressure on the opponent.
  • Said Wiet was progressing and is in full training. Berhalter believes it will take him another month to get fully fit but that he's working really hard.