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Tuesday Practice Pitch Updates: Missing Players, Second Place, TFC

Crew SC have a playoff spot secured, but there's still one more game to play in the regular season and a lot on the line.

If you've never been to Columbus Crew SC's EAS Training Center, there are two full-size soccer fields. The closest one to the entrance is where the Black & Gold typically do their work, but the other field is used for secondary training.

On Tuesday, when media members were allowed into training, there were no players on Field 1, and everyone was over on half of Field 2.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff had setup a small-field scrimmage with the majority of his team. The orange consisted of Hector Jimenez, Emanuel Pogatetz, Gaston Sauro, Waylon Francis, Kevan George, Mohammed Saeid, Cedrick Mabwati, and Aaron Schoenfeld. Their gray counterparts were Chris Klute, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst, Harrison Afful, Chad Barson, Ben Speas, Romain Gall, and Jack McInerney.

There were two halves played while the practice was open and the orange team scored one on either side of the break.

Ethan Finlay, Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani, and Sergio Campbell were all held out of this part of training, but took part in the earlier portions.

After everything finished, Berhalter spoke with the media.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • Berhalter said the implications of Sunday's match with D.C. United are clear, "If we win, we're second." He said that it won't be easy because United doesn't necessarily need to win to get second.
  • Crew SC has been playing playoff-style games for a month. Berhalter started with the last time Columbus played D.C. and how every game has had that feel to it.
  • With no Kei Kamara or Federico Higuain, who are both suspended, for the season finale, Berhalter said other guys will have to step up. He said it's very difficult to replace those two, but it's a good opportunity for guys to get a chance in a game that means a lot for the club.
  • Berhalter said he's sure the team will do something different with their two attacking players but they still have an identity that they will stick with.
  • Berhalter said they are looking at Aaron Schoenfeld and Jack McInerney to fill the void left by Kamara and it will depend on training as to who gets the start.
  • McInerney should be available for selection on Sunday after dealing with a hamstring injury over the last month.
  • Berhalter called Schoenfeld a team players and he's willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful. He said he's accepted his role this last month in training and admitted that's probably not easy for a guy who started last year in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • There are a number of options that can play the Higuain position according to Berhalter. Ben Speas was listed, but Berhalter pointed to Hector Jimenez, who started there in last year's away playoff game, as another potential option.
  • Berhalter agreed that this has been a disappointing year for Speas in terms of playing time, but said Higuain has been performing at a high level and it's been difficult for Speas to get on the field at different positions.
  • Berhalter said they held back on some of the guys who have a lot of minutes today.
  • The 2-0 win over Toronto FC was a tough game Berhalter said. He said TFC stayed compact and kept players behind the ball and it's not easy to break a team down when they're doing that, especially on the road.
  • The head coach said the late goal by Higuain was big because it changed the dynamic of stoppage time. Berhalter said the team could have been better in the second half, especially in offensive transition.