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Practice Pitch Updates: Open Cup Upcoming

The Black & Gold continue preparations for Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup match with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

It's been a week and half since Columbus Crew SC's 3-2 defeat to the Philadelphia Union. The Major League Soccer international break, which allows players to be off for much of the Copa America, is nearly over with the Montreal Impact coming to town on Saturday.

Before that, Crew SC will enter the U.S. Open Cup, taking on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Ohio State's campus.

On Tuesday, head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff helped the team with final preparations for the Open Cup encounter. When the media was permitted to enter the EAS Training Center, most of the day's training was done. Some players remained on the field kicking the ball about.

After he finished with the players, Berhalter spoke with the media members on hand.

Conversation with Berhalter

  • The Columbus head coach said it's been a really intensive last week of training since returning from the break and he said the team is looking forward to getting back into games.
  • Coming out of the break, Berhalter wanted his players to mentally get away from the team. Said the players and staff are not happy with the results and he wanted them to not think about it for a few days. He said that while the results haven't been good enough, the team believes the performances have been okay.
  • When asked about playing a possibly depleted Montreal Impact side on Saturday, he said the players and staff are focused on the Open Cup and they will begin to prepare for Montreal on Thursday. In terms of the injuries, he said the Impact are in a similar boat as Crew SC.
  • Berhalter said there is good familiarity with Montreal, but said the first two games have been very different due to the playing surface and the personnel on the field. He believes this game will be different as well.
  • Asked about the importance of the Open Cup, Berhalter said "that's a difficult question." He called it an important event, but said the team uses it to get guys who don't play much some minutes. He stated that the lineup does not mean it's not important. "We demand that the guys who are in compete and try and win a game and that's the most important thing to me." He also added that this is real competition as opposed to playing in college friendlies.
  • Berhalter said the lineup will be "a little different." He stated there are 16 healthy players right now so it can't be that different and the staff will be creative.
  • Forward Conor Casey is dealing with a knee issue and is out for a week or two.
  • The Crew SC head coach didn't want to look too far into the future when asked if he would use a more first-choice lineup if the team makes a deep Open Cup run. Said they are balancing the League and the Open Cup right now due to the number of players the team has available. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
  • Asked about players he would like to see perform in this game Berhalter listed goalkeeper Brad Stuver, midfielder/defender Rodrigo Saravia, and midfielder Emil Larsen. Said Saravia has done well and earned game time. He also said he knows Larsen is anxious to getting playing time and show what he can do.
  • Giving his scouting report on the Rowdies, Berhalter said they have a good counterattack. He said there is good quality in the midfield and named Joe Cole specifically. Said they can be physical up front with Tommy Heinemann or technical with Georgi Hristov. He also pointed to the speed on the wings that could be problematic for the Black & Gold.
  • After scoring seven goals in four matches before the break, Berhalter was asked how to keep that offensive momentum going. He said it's about players continuing to get more comfortable with Ola Kamara.
  • Berhalter is excited to play at Jesse Owens. He said it's good to continue to the relationship with Ohio State and it allows fans to see the team up close in a different environment.