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Tuesday's Practice Pitch Updates

After one of the worst weeks in Crew history - losing three games in seven days and failing to score in any of them - the Black and Gold got back out to practice Tuesday morning, looking to get things back on track.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Crew took to their Obetz practice facility on Tuesday, beginning their preparation for Saturday's match with the Portland Timbers.

After the media were allowed in, most of the team was stretching and preparing for weight lifting. Some of the reserve defenders, including Tyson Wahl, Eric Gehrig, Ben Sweat, and Chad Barson, along with Daniel Paladini and Ethan Finlay worked on shooting. The players would receive a ball, dribble through obstacles, then release a shot from long range. They would then make a run towards goal, where assistant coach Josh Wolff played a ball on the ground that they attempted to finish with a one-time shot.

It was apparent that players were still recovering a bit from the match congestion before their lift.

Notes

Finlay and Paladini both showed good ability striking the ball from long range. Paladini was more consistent with his efforts, but Finlay can really get a hold of the ball.

Gehrig also had some nice shots and not just for a defender. The Crew's game notes for the Houston Dynamo match listed him as the projected starter in the suspended Wil Trapp's position and his shot may have been part of the thinking.

All of the players called into their respective countries' World Cup camps were on hand on Tuesday, Michael Parkhurst will depart on Wednesday, while it is still unknown when the Costa Rican contingent of Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis will leave (has since been announced Francis will leave Wednesday).

Kevan George was back at training on Tuesday. George had been on loan to the Dayton Dutch Lions, but was recalled (more below).

Ben Swanson trained with the Crew. This is the second time I have seen the Academy product out there with the first team this season.

Conversation with Gregg Berhalter

  • Columbus' head coach said they will change things up a little bit in training due to the recent poor form. He said the window is open for other guys at this point, but made it clear that he doesn't want players to feel like one mistake could take them out of the lineup. He admitted after three consecutive losses, the starters will be evaluated.
  • In terms of the opening for the players departing for the World Cup, Berhalter mentioned Wahl and Gehrig by name. He said it's not easy for them, not getting any chance to play due to the starting center back duo, but he told them to be patient and their time will come.
  • Berhalter said his advice to the World Cup players was just on what an event it is and what it means to the world. He said he was more conscious of the mental stress for them leading up to the camps.
  • Asked about a replacement for Francis, a player that has been asked to do a lot on the left side, Berhalter said there are a couple different options. He said the workload makes the position difficult for guys to just step in. They will look at it carefully.
  • In terms of Josh Williams potentially moving central, Berhalter said he wouldn't rule it out but that wasn't their immediate thought.
  • Asked about the players rest, the head coach said they seemed well rested today. He said the main thing he noticed was guys were down about the the recent poor run and not happy about their performances. He said he tries to put it in perspective for them and explain these runs are part of being a professional soccer player. They can feel bad for themselves or they can move on and use this to help them focus.
  • Berhalter said George was an option at center back, potentially to start. He said they will evaluate him all week.
  • He said Trapp takes on a bigger responsibility taking over the captain's armband in the absence of Parkhurst. Berhalter also said he expects some of the older players to step up. Mentioned Wahl if he is in the lineup. There is no "vice vice captain" on the Crew according to Berhalter.
  • Asked about statements last week that there may be possible reinforcements coming in, Gregg said he was talking about both a player like George being called up and outside the organization. He said they have been keeping tabs on their players on loan but they have also kept tabs on the market. He said, "we're going to probably look to bring someone in, but we'll see."
  • Asked if there was any truth to the rumors of Swedish reports of a striker Lasse Nilsson joining the team, Berhalter said, "no, not that I can see."
  • Gregg said the World Cup represents a culmination of hard work throughout your career. He said it can be a really enjoyable experience and it's exciting and very memorable.
  • Asked about Ben Speas, the coach said it's complicated. He said he was a good player that shows promise but they see him in Federico Higuain's position. He said the midfielder needs to get games and they have been able to do that with some of the college scrimmages. Says he has a lot of potential.