The Columbus Crew were hard at work on a beautiful Wednesday morning.
As the media entered, the team worked on a slightly condensed field in an intense scrimmage-like drill. The Crew was separated into two teams that were mostly starters and reserves. The game was played at a high pace and the coaches were encouraging the players to go at speed and keep things moving. When the ball went out of play, it was quickly restarted by one of the goalkeepers.
After the drill was ended, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter pulled the team together for a huddle before some of the reserves went to lift.
Michael Pakhurst, Ben Sweat, Josh Williams, and Hector Jimenez stayed on one half of the field to work on crosses. The ball was delivered on their second touch after receiving a central pass. Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta took turns making runs in an attempt to finish the served balls.
On the other end of the field, Berhalter and assistant coach Josh Wolff worked with Tony Tchani and Wil Trapp on their movement in the midfield. They specifically were focusing on situations where Trapp drops alongside the center backs. The foursome worked on different passing situations along the back line, with a ball ultimately being played to Tchani and Trapp making the run forward to provide support or be there for a pass to carry the ball forward.
In the first drill, Oduro and Arrieta were in with what appeared to be the second unit with Oduro playing on the left side of the midfield and Arrieta up top. Also on the team were Augustin Viana, Daniel Paladini, Ben Sweat, and Matt Lampson.
Adam Bedell appeared to be the lone striker for what was mostly the starting group. He was with Waylon Francis, Josh Williams, Steve Clark, Jimenez, and the like. Read into these lineups as you will.
Federico Higuain was doing work on the sideline, though it was confirmed that he practiced earlier and it was nothing to worry about. In his place in the drill was Justin Meram who looked very natural playing behind Bedell. He worked back to receive the ball and distributed nicely.
Parkhurst was not with the Ginacarlo Gonzalez, Francis, and Williams defensive line in the drill. In his place at center back was Tyson Wahl who had to be instructed on positioning a couple of times by Berhalter but looked good in general.
Matt Wiet also impressed. He was going up against Bedell frequently and held his own against the bigger striker. He is very vocal and he has been used in the middle and on the outside of the defense in practice.
Neither Oduro or Arrieta looked completely comfortable finishing the crosses with no defenders or goalkeeper. Being that they are both on the smaller side, this makes sense, but redirecting headers and finishing from the cross were both issues.
The crosses coming in weren't great either, but the players were frustrated with themselves. It appeared they understood these balls need to be delivered a certain way and are putting in the time to get this right.
Conversation with Berhalter
- Asked about how training has been different after suffering the first loss of the season, Berhalter quickly said it hasn't. He said the message to the guys is to continue along the same lines. He admitted the guys weren't sure what to expect coming into the week, but they're just continuing to improve.
- He said he is interested to see how this team bounces back against the San Jose Earthquakes. Their game revolves around having confidence. A loss makes confidence dip a little but it is the coaches' job to get it back up.
- Berhalter called San Jose a good team. He said they play aggressive physically, good on crossed balls and all types of set pieces.
- He said defending will be a group effort, especially on set pieces. The whole team will have to defend.
- He stated that every game presents a challenge and it's their job to accept that challenge and excel.
- Berhalter was asked what it takes to be consistent throughout the whole season (he won the Supporter's Shield as a player with the L.A. Galaxy), he said you have to bounce back from defeats and get through guys not having their best games.
- When asked if teams may now have a blueprint on the Crew, the head coach didn't know how anyone would figure it out. He believes they control the Toronto FC game. He said if it's letting the team cross the ball then maybe that's it but pointed out they had the most passes in the league last week. He said the early goal didn't make things any easier, but he believes the Crew are a difficult team to play against.
- Asked if a team with no wins and only one point was a more dangerous team, Berhalter said every team is desperate for wins. He said they weren't any more desperate than Columbus at this point.
- He said most games are about taking advantage of a team's opportunities. Last week, Toronto did that and they were able to dictate the game and defend.