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Thursday's Practice Pitch Updates

After a midweek break in training, the Crew were back on the grounds Thursday morning to continue preparation for Saturday night's contest.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As the media entered the the Columbus Crew training compound, the Black and Gold were just winding down their practice for the day.

Many of the players talked to team doctor Thomas Hospel on the edge of the field. Hospel arrived about 20 minutes before the session ended and gave a talk to the team.

Other players continued to do a little extra work. Josh Williams, Hector Jimenez and Romain Gall worked in a tight triangle, playing one-touch passes quickly. Justin Meram took some free kicks and penalty kicks on Steve Clark and Wil Trapp worked with assistant coach Josh Wolff on receiving balls at the top of the box and shooting.

Notes

Crew Academy player Ben Swanson trained with the team yet again today. Swanson had been at the previous two Columbus training sessions this week.

Conversation with Gregg Berhalter

  • Berhalter was asked what he's seen from Montreal since the last outing between the two teams. He said they have a very good attacking group and defensively they've been solid. He said there isn't much that separates the teams in the MLS. He said they could be in the playoff hunt if things had gone differently.
  • Berhalter said they added quality with Ignacio Piatti.
  • When asked about how the CONCACAF Champions League can impact a team, Berhalter said it depends on the team, the teams in the group, the depth of the squad. He said it can be a positive or a negative.
  • Berhalter was asked if the Champions League presents a tough balancing act and he said it is what are you putting into it and what are you going to get out of it. He said if your mindset is that you want to win the tournament, you have to invest in it.
  • Berhalter expects to see Montreal's best lineup on Saturday with no Champions League game this week.
  • Berhalter said the Impact are a very similar team from the last time they saw them. He said they will use the last game to prepare for this one.
  • When asked if there was any more emphasis on this game because it's at home and the next three games are on the road, Berhalter responded in typical fashion, saying not really. He called the game a huge game, but they will prepare the same as they did last week.
  • Berhalter said there must be communication with the players when integrating a new player, like Emanuel Pogatetz, midseason. He said he would expect a player like Tyson Wahl to be unhappy if he was taken from the lineup because he's played really well. He said this is professional sports and this is what it's about. There's a lot of competition and it's about performing.
  • When asked if there's anything they can do to protect Federico Higuain more, who teams have focused on recently, Berhalter said they move him around and he has to be smart enough to open space and create space for others.
  • Berhalter said Higuain knows that he doesn't have to be a large part of the match for a while but his quality allows him to still make an impact at any moment (such as the free kick against the New England Revolution).
  • Berhlater was asked about Revolution head coach Jay Heaps saying the Crew players targeted Jermaine Jones in last Saturday's game. The Columbus head coach said he would not comment on that.
  • Asked about Swanson, Berhalter said they want to keep him around and training with them. He was asked how long until he leaves for what next and he asked, "what's next?"
  • Berhalter admitted that the year has gone by very quickly when asked about the second-to-last home game this Saturday. He said it has been fun and they want to finish off the right way. He said the players worked harder than he imagined.
  • Berhalter said they don't necessarily need Tony Tchani to raise his level each game, but they want to make the range smaller between his lower performances and his high performances. He says the nature of the game means sometimes you will have bad days.