After Columbus Crew SC had Wednesday off, Gregg Berhalter had his men back to work Thursday morning. Despite beginning practice well before noon, it was a hot session for the Black & Gold and the players ended with wet towels over their heads and necks.
As the media members entered the EAS Training Center, the attacking players remained hard at work on one end of the field. Assistant coach Josh Wolff laid balls off to Tony Tchani near the top of the center circle and he played a long ball wide to one of the wingers, who crossed the ball to two forwards making runs to goal. Wolff then called one of the two forwards to check back to receive a pass. That player had to turn and fire a shot.
Kei Kamara had several nice finishes in this drill, including one shot that came on a bouncing pass from Wolff where he juggled it once off his thigh and fired a volley that beat the goalkeeper.
The rest of the players worked around the field, mostly passing the ball to each other and taking it fairly easy. Mohammed Saeid worked on receiving passes in the middle of the field and spraying the ball wide to a specific target. He did so while Kamara yelled at him. "I'm in your head," the striker proclaimed at one point.
As most players stretched or went to the locker room, winger Ethan Finlay remained on the field working on his own. He dribble at a wall dummy, attempting various moves before a shot. When he got the move right, he moved on to the next, but if he didn't, he started over.
A sweaty Berhalter, who had just lobbed a ball into the bucket of rags to the hysteria of his players, came to talk to the gathered media.
Conversation with Berhalter
- After the loss to the Montreal Impact, Berhalter took the blame. He was asked today what he was doing differently this week. He said he thought most of it was just getting back to basics. He pointed to the second Montreal goal, where an attacking free kick led an Impact finish on the other end. He said that is coaching and those things were addressed.
- The head coach admitted that after some good home form, his team thought things would be easy against Montreal. He said his team needs to keep fighting and not be surprised when another team scores on them.
- Berhalter said the team can't look at past results and have to live in the here and now. He said that's what soccer is, working in the moment and blocking everything else out.
- Berhalter was asked if he will look to change things this weekend with the lineup after the disappointments last week. He said this is a normal week so the team is looking to get back to its normal rhythm.
- The head coach was asked if he's gotten to play his first choice lineup this season and he said they don't want to make excuses and they want to be competitive no matter what lineup the team plays.
- Berhalter said he's pleased with what he's seen from Kristinn Steindorsson. He said he feels for a guy that's taking a while to breakthrough, but pointed out that it took some guys (Justin Meram and Finlay) a while to really break through last year.
- Asked about LA Galaxy's ability to get results when they don't have many of their starters, Berhalter said their head coach, Bruce Arena, is great at getting his teams ready to play and getting the best out of players. He also pointed out that the Galaxy is a very deep team.
- Berhalter was asked about Crew SC President of Business Andy Loughnane, who was introduce last year before the LA match. He said Loughnane has been amazing to the franchise and has brought a new energy and inspiration to the club. The head coach said there's been a lot of positive direction and it feels good. The two have a good relationship.