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Wednesday Practice Pitch Updates: Spacing and Relaxation

Crew SC continue preparation for the Eastern Conference Semifinal second leg.

Columbus Crew SC have one focus this week: Defeat the Montreal Impact in a manner that advances the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. The players and staff are focused on that and it's apparent at the Black & Gold's training sessions.

Although the team was finished when media members entered the EAS Training Center, it was obvious that the session went well. For the second straight day, players walked off in good moods, which is always a good sign.

After talking to a few players and guest of the day Gino Padula, a former Crew SC defender, head coach Gregg Berhalter spoke with members of the media.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • To advance on Sunday, Berhalter said Crew SC wants to play a better game. The team was happy with the result, but not with the performance.
  • Berhalter emphasized spacing today. He said when spacing is good, the Black & Gold play very good soccer and are difficult to defend. Said spacing was off in the first leg.
  • Asked about the chippiness of the last game and said you take what the game gives and on Sunday it got physical. He said Montreal's striker (Didier Drogba) wanted to use his body and he wants his players to defend himself.
  • Berhalter felt Justin Meram got involved in the game pretty well. He said they need to get Kei Kamara involved more and Ethan Finlay has to have better timing on his runs.
  • The team's normal style yields goals and because of that, there's no extra urgency heading into the game. Berhalter is confident if they execute, Crew SC will score. He said the team will play the normal game for the first half and the early portion of the second half before making any adjustments.
  • Sunday is an important step for the organization Berhalter said. "We want to advance to the Conference Finals."
  • Berhalter admitted that there is added pressure this week, but the job as the coaching staff is to get the players to relax and focus on execution and not on the pressure.
  • The head coach said it was just coincidence that Gaston Sauro ended up marking Drogba for much of the match. Said it makes sense since it's a forward on center back, but it wasn't designed for Sauro to man mark him throughout the game necessarily.
  • Berhalter said they don't have to ramp up the intensity this week with what's on the line. Said the players are ready to go and chomping at the bit and it's more about getting them to relax than anything.