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Thursday's Practice Pitch Updates

Thursday's training session brought a high level of intensity you would expect from a team after the first loss of the year.

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sport

The Columbus Crew again worked on a slightly condensed field as they finished up training. The team had been broken into three teams in a 6 v. 6 game with Josh Williams and Chad Barson designated as all-time crosses outside of the field of play on one side and Waylon Francis and Ben Sweat opposite them.

It appeared the teams were separation was random, though with Gregg Berhalter in charge very little is random. The game was played at a high pace and the level of intensity and attention to detail was incredible. Berhalter kept track of each teams record as they rotated on and off the field and reminded them how the standings stood before the games. It was apparent no team wanted to lose and there was frustration at any mistakes made or missed chances.


Matt Lampson was not afraid to jump on his defenders for mistakes, despite being the reserve goalkeeper. He was vocal throughout and had to yell at Tony Tchani and Michael Parkhurst for separate incidents.

Midfielder Daniel Paladini, who is back in training after an injury, looked good in the drill playing in central midfield. He was comfortable with the ball at his feet and was not afraid to let a shot fly when he was given too much space.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • Asked about the San Jose Earthquakes, Berhalter called them a very good team, especially at home. He said they are very physical, good at set pieces, and on crosses. Said the Earthquakes thrive on stretched games and chaos and it is their job to keep it under control.
  • Said he asks a lot of Giancarlo Gonzalez from a leadership standpoint. He said Gonzalez is not afraid to talk to guys in front of the group. Called the defender solid, though he was a little unhappy with his first half in the Toronto FC game. Berhalter knows why he's a big part of the Costa Rican national team.
  • In regards to statastics he pays attention to, Berhalter said they look at passing in terms of direction, where on the field, and the accuracy. He said it is also the context of the game. Against Toronto, they were losing at the opponent dropped back.
  • Berhalter said San Jose is dangerous on set pieces because of how they attack you. They are aggressive attacking the ball and make good runs. He said they have height, strength, and jumping ability, pointing to Clarence Goodson, Victor Bernardez, Steven Lenhart, and Alan Gordon, called them top set piece guys in the league and they're all on one team.
  • He said they spent more time this week looking at their set plays in the office but on the field it will come down to matching their will to attack the ball, win the ball, and clear it.
  • The team has worked a lot on crossing and scoring from crossing. He said they scored a lot of goals on crosses today. Stated that it was about making better runs because if the runner doesn't get the ball, it frees up something for the next runner.
  • Berhalter said of the Earthquakes strikers that Chris Wondolowski plays really well off his bigger partner because he can make good movements depending on where the ball is served. Called him really smart and said the team would have to focus on locating Wondolowski's movements when the ball is played into him.
  • He said he believes this whole season is a process and he believes the team has responded fine from their first loss. There is no reason to get over-reactive over a loss; they analyzed it and communicated and now they move on. Berhalter quoted Bruce Arena, his former coach, saying, "they beat us this week, we don't want them to beat us again next week," meaning get the game out of their mind and moving on.
  • Of Aaron Shoenfeld, Berhalter said they are building his strength and his fitness and then they will bring him back from the Dayton Dutch Lions. He believes he is starting to find his stride with Dayton.
  • Asked about Ryan Finley, Berhalter said, "he's not doing that well." He called him a very good player and they need to get him going. They are waiting for his performance to pick up. He said they talk to the coaches constantly and they are focusing on his performance. They have confidence in him. Berhalter called the time with the Lions and opportunity for Finley to score goals. He doesn't want players that go on loan to view it as a demotion because it is a way to get them minutes and for the players to perform.
  • Berhalter said the partnership with Dayton has been exactly what they imagined it. Said all the other plays, aside from Finley, have performed well.