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Tuesday's Practice Pitch Updates: D.C. United, Steve Clark, Defensive Improvement

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Tuesday is Tournament Day for Crew SC!

Columbus Crew SC participated in the weekly Tournament Day on Tuesday. Typically the members of the media get to see a lot of the action on Tournament Day, but today was an exception. Those of us there were allowed into the EAS Training Center to watch the end of the last game between the three teams competing.

Here's how the teams broke down today:

Orange: Justin Meram, Jack McInerney, Chris Klute, Tony Tchani, Ben Speas, and Emanuel Pogatetz
Gray: Chad Barson, Kristinn Steindorsson, Michael Parkhurst, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ben Swanson, Kevan George
Blue: Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Tyson Wahl, Cedrick Mabwati, Wil Trapp, and either Harrison Afful or Mohammed Saeid

The blue team won on the day, though they were finished before the media could watch.

Afterwards, head coach Gregg Berhalter spoke with those present.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • The head coach said D.C. United, this week's opponent, has a very good defense. He preached patience and changing the tempo of the attack as keys to breaking them down. He also touched on spacing and ball movement.
  • Berhalter said they aren't close enough to talk about the playoff. Despite the possibility of clinching a spot this weekend, Berhalter said their focus in only on beating D.C.
  • There's no need to add anything with the potential playoff spot on the line in this game. He said United have been a top team in the East all year and are still right there so Crew SC doesn't need any extra motivation.
  • With the rosters freezing this week, Berhalter said his team has been a pleasure to work with. He called them a tight group and they've been plugging away this year.
  • Berhalter said Gatsón Sauro is progressing well from his concussion. He has started running and the next step in high intensity running and keep progressing up the ladder. Berhalter did not know if he would be available this weekend.
  • After the game Saturday, Berhalter said goalkeeper Steve Clark had a vintage performance. Asked to clarify this, the coach said it's when he doesn't have much to do but comes up big when he's called upon. This includes big saves and distribution, such as helping to spark the attack on the other end.
  • Berhalter said any time you give up three goals in a game, you want to do better in the next match. The coach pointed out that Clark didn't make many saves against FC Dallas and was frustrated. He needed to come up big on some saves and help his team get a win against the Philadelphia Union and he did that.
  • Berhalter said continuity on the back line is important, but he would like the team to get to the point where no matter who is in, the team performs well defensively and has continuity. He admitted the team has been disappointed with defensive performances by and large, but they are working to improve every week.
  • "Defending is a team game and if we defend well as a team, we'll be fine."
  • Harrison Afful has a good understanding of how the Black & Gold want to play according to Berhalter. He said it's not easy for players to pick that up right away when coming in mid-season, but Afful has and made a difference in the games he's played.