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Thursday's Practice Pitch Updates: Romain Gall, Improved D.C., Race Cars

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It was back to regular training for Crew SC on Thursday.

After taking a day to relax and speed around a track, Columbus Crew SC were back to business as usual on Thursday morning as they continue their preparation for D.C. United.

The media entered as training was coming to a close, but players and coaches remained out on the fields. On one end, head coach Gregg Berhalter worked with some players in a shooting drill, while the assistant coaches worked with others on what appeared to be defending crosses and/or set pieces on the other end.

In the shooting drill - which was much closer to where we stood - Berhalter told his players if they missed the goal, didn't put the shot on frame, they were done. The shots came on layoffs from the head coach, who didn't always provide the best service (he said it was intentional to prepare them for bad passes, if you believe that) and the players had one touch before the shot. Waylon Francis was rather good, scoring on all but one of his chances. Chad Barson was the first out with a shot over the goal. Adam Bedell kept most of his shots on frame.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • With the top four teams in the Eastern Conference playing each other this weekend, Berhalter was asked if this week felt like a chance to show where they stand in the East. He said he doesn't think so and it's just another game against an Eastern Conference opponent, although they do want to see where they are against them.
  • Berhalter called D.C. a group that can get results.
  • Berhalter said the notion that at some point things will stop working for United is probably something the club uses as motivation. He said they have a veteran group that likes to prove people wrong. He noted that he does not see D.C. that way, but instead that they know what they need to do to be successful.
  • Asked how different United is with forward Fabian Espindola, who was suspended to start the season, he said they are better. He called him a quality player that's proven himself throughout the years.
  • Berhalter said midfielder Romain Gall, who recently returned from a trip with the U.S. U-20s, is looking good. It's difficult for him to break into the Crew SC team because of the players ahead of him, but he's doing well. Berhalter said he has to remain focused and stay day-to-day.
  • The Black and Gold want to prepare Gall for the U-20 World Championships. The first step is making the roster and the second step is doing well once he gets there.
  • Berhalter was asked about yesterday's team-building activity. He said it was a break from the norm and they wanted to get away from game a bit. Berhalter was coy on talking about his racing ability, but did say performance director Steve Tashjian won the tournament. "I think he must have grown up with go kart or something... The guy was quality."
  • The Crew SC head coach said he has a good relationship with D.C. head coach Ben Olsen. He said they talk regularly and he's a great guy and a great coach.
  • Berhalter said midfielder Wil Trapp is not training (he was at training today, but in street clothes). Berhalter said he can do some light activity. He will need time get his fitness before he can get back in the lineup once he is cleared.
  • Berhalter said having Mohammed Saeid has helped with Trapp being out, but said you are still taking away a key player on this team. "We miss him."