The Columbus Crew were back out on the training pitch Wednesday morning as they continued their preparation for the New York Red Bulls, who travel to Columbus on Saturday.
The media was gifted with their first 11 v. 11 scrimmage to conclude practice of the year. The team was broken up into what appeared to be available starters against reserves and the reserves had the better of the play over the final 15 minute period, winning 1-0.
Several players remained on the field after training was concluded with some of the young defenders working on crossing and finishing on their own. Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and Assistant Coach Josh Wolff worked with some younger attacking players on movement in and around the box.
The most obvious observation was Jario Arrieta playing forward for the apparent starters team. Dominic Oduro meanwhile played on the right side of the midfield and Hector Jimenez moved to the left due to the suspension of Bernardo Anor for Saturday's match (more on this below).
Ethan Finlay, who played out wide for the reserve team, made several well timed runs and was consistently dangerous.
The reserves goal came on a good bit of play by three players who are certainly in the rotation when healthy. Justin Meram made a run down the left side and played a ball to Daniel Paladini in stride. The central midfielder took a touch to the top of the box before playing a back heel to an overlapping Adam Bedell. The big forward dribbled into the box before placing his shot in the far corner.
Wil Trapp, fresh off his game-winning assist, had several nice passes and appears to be recovered from his nagging injury that kept him from joining the USA U-21s. The central midfielder had a particularly nice ball over the top of the defense to an onrushing Josh Williams out wide that led to a cross and good chance for his team.
Conversation with Berhalter
- Berhalter was asked about the recent lack of scoring by his team and he said teams have made a real effort to get behind the ball and defend. He said it is about precision, speed of ball movement, and good ball movement for his team to break that down. The head coach used yesterday's Champions League game between Athletico Madrid and Chelsea (a 0-0 draw) as an example of how difficult it can be to attack a team that puts nine guys behind the ball.
- Asked about Jimenez's qualities that fit this team, Berhalter said he is good in his movements, he's technically good, he can turn easily, he can turn and strike the ball when, and pointed to his quickness. Also said Jimenez has a positive impact on games when he's on the field.
- When asked about Arrieta and Oduro playing together in the scrimmage, Berhalter said they need to replace Anor and they've been looking at the options. He said they tried out a bunch of different things today and it wasn't just Oduro playing in the wide position.
- Berahlter said he imagines it would be frustrating for Oduro since he hasn't scored. Said he needs to keep working hard and he'll get there.
- He said when a team plays so compact, it is little movements and positioning that make the difference in a game. If you're a little off things don't work.
- Ben Speas was not at training. Berhalter said he was sick today.
- Berhalter said that whoever fills in for Anor will bring their own attributes and they could have a little bit of a different look because of this.
- When asked about the recent struggles, if they can be called that, at home, Berhalter said it was simple what was happening. The opposition is coming in focused on their job and staying compact, looking for a counter attack goal. He said it is up to the Crew to be better in breaking them down, but it's difficult. He said it is not a tactic they employ, they want to play and take it to the other team on the road. They have seen the opposite in Crew Stadium.
- Said both Trapp and Michael Parkhurst were good to go for Wednesday.
- Berhalter said the Red Bulls' game tonight could have an impact on the game between them and Columbus on Saturday if there is an injury or suspension. Said the coaches will be watching that game, but that they watch every game.
- He said there will be no further discipline for Anor for the early elbow or his part in the fight that occurred on Saturday and they had received the ruling from the league.