It smells like the regular season!
Columbus Crew SC returned to the home land for the first time in a few weeks and trained at the club's EAS Training Center for the first time since the end of 2015.
Over the last portion of training that the media members on hand were allowed to watch, the Black & Gold took part in 8 v. 8 drills. Everyone who should be present was in attendance including forward Kei Kamara who continues to look for an improved contract.
Following the conclusion of training, many of the players remained on the field to mess around with penalty kicks and set pieces -- some things don't change -- including a terrible miss from Cedrick Mabwati from the spot.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter, with a fresh tan from Arizona, was quick to head over and speak with those gathered.
Conversation with Berhalter
- The team is on schedule for Sunday's season opener with the Portland Timbers. "We're ready to go," Berhalter said. He said preseason was successful and he liked the attitude of his players. He also said some of the stuff they worked on is already being demonstrated in training sessions.
- Asked if there was any extra juice opening with Portland, who defeated Crew SC in the MLS Cup Final to end last season, Berhalter called it a good opportunity. He admitted there was still a sour taste in the team's mouth and this was a good chance to get the league started.
- "Kei's been great this preseason," Berhalter said. He was very complimentary of the striker throughout training so far.
- Asked about some of the new players, Berhalter said they are getting there. Said Ola Kamara has a muscle strain that has kept him out of training.
- "They're defending champs!" Berhalter said when asked to evaluate the Timbers. Said they have a good team and great home support and the team is looking forward to the game.
- As always, Berhalter said the message to the players is "One game at a time." The team will focus on Portland and go from there.
- Berhalter said the mentality begins to ramp up this week. He said the preseason games are great but when points are on the line there is a different mentality. Said they will start to see that this week.
- Tuesday is roster compliance day and Berhalter said that doesn't mean much. He said they are where they planned to be and they'll finish up a couple of rookie signings soon and go from there.
- Berhalter said the rookies have been training hard and said for their planning, he wants to get them signed in the next couple of days.
- Asked about the newly announced television deal, Berhalter said if that was a complaint of the supporters then he is glad the club was able to address that. "It shows that we're a club not only for the players, but a club for the fans as well.
- On the injury front, Berhalter said Waylon Franics was limited along with Ola Kamara. Said the left back picked up an ankle sprain in the final preseason game. Berhalter doesn't see it being much. Other than that he said he thinks the team is pretty good in the health department.