The Crew resumed its preseason training schedule Sunday morning at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. after defeating D.C. United 1-0 in the team's first exhibition on Saturday. Head Coach Robert Warzycha and his staff put the team through some light conditioning and shooting drills before a tactic-focused 11-on-11 scrimmage. Less than a week into preseason camp, Warzycha sees things starting taking shape.
"It's just the beginning," Warzycha said. "Obviously one session is not going to fix all of the things that we need to fix. I think with another few sessions, we can do much better."
While fitness is still the top priority in Bradenton, Warzycha is being cautious to not overwork his players.
"I think with doing two sessions each day, obviously we have to be careful and not over do it," the Head Coach explained. "But this is the time when we have to work hard. The guys have a good attitude and everything is going great so far."
Instead of returning to IMG Academy for a second training session Sunday afternoon, the Crew gathered at a local gym in Sarasota for a strength workout.
A NEW FACE IN CAMP
To begin Sunday morning's training session in Bradenton, Fla., Robert Warzycha asked Justin Meram to introduce a new face in the preseason camp.
"Guys, this is Konrad Warzycha. He's from Columbus and he went to Ohio State. He's here to train with us," the former Michigan Wolverine announced.
Konrad, Head Coach Robert Warzycha's oldest child, played four years for the Buckeyes and helped the Scarlet and Gray to an appearance in the 2007 NCAA College Cup Final before spending the past two seasons with Sporting Kansas City.
The 23-year-old Warzycha arrived in Bradenton Saturday night in hope of landing a contract with the club he grew up watching his father play for and later coach.
"It's a dream come true," the younger Warzycha said. "Ever since 1996, when we moved to Columbus and my dad signed with the Crew, I've been following the team and I remember going to games with my brother. We would go to practices and stuff and hoping to one day be out there. To get the opportunity to compete for that chance is a dream come true."
The midfielder isn't expecting any preferential treatment because of his bloodline. To his father, he is just another trialist in camp working to make the 2013 roster.
"He's no different than any of my other coaches," the younger Warzycha explained. "We're both professionals about it. Once we step on the field, he's the coach and I'm the player. There's nothing different."
"[Konrad] is another one of our players. I don't see any difference. I'm "Dad" at home and on the field, I am the coach," the Head Coach echoed.
Thanks to Crew Team Administrator Tucker Walther, who captured Sercan Güvenisik's game-winning penalty kick against D.C. United from his iPad on Saturday.
Costa Rica advanced to the Final of the 2013 Cope Centroamericana on Friday night following a 1-0 win against El Salvador. Crew striker Jairo Arrieta started the match and played 65 minutes before being subbed off for Portland TImbers defender Rodney Wallace. Wallace scored the winner six minutes later to propel La Sele to the championship match.
Costa Rica will take on Honduras in the Final at the Estadio Nacional at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Crew wrapped up Friday with a light training session at Bradenton's IMG Academy consisting of some conditioning, possession drills and crossing and finishing work. Rookie forward Ryan Finley's far post diving header into the back of the net was one of the few highlights from the afternoon practice. Friday's second training session wrapped up with every player taking a mandatory dip in the ice baths ahead of tomorrow's match against D.C. United.
Recent news and notes from the 2013 MLS SuperDraft class, Supplemental Draft selections and Urso Memorial Match.
CourierPostOnline.com: Rancocas Valley alum Ryan Finley picked in MLS draft
Notre Dame University: Finley selected in first round of MLS SuperDraft
University of Denver: Beckie selected by Columbus in MLS SuperDraft
Herald Dispatch: Crew draft Withrow
Pike County Daily: Crew select three in supplemental draft
FOX 6 News: Matte selected by Crew in supplemental draft
Kane County Chronicle: Crew pick Geneva's Sloan in MLS Draft
High Point University: Shawn Sloan drafted by Columbus
NewsObserver.com: UNC men's soccer to face MLS team
digtriad.com: Carolina Dynamo announce MLS Match at Macpherson Stadium
Cincinnati.com: Former Madeira soccer standout in Crew camp
The Black & Gold began a grueling stretch of two-a-day training sessions Friday morning at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The team took part in possession and shooting drills before capping the two-hour practice off with an 11-on-11 scrimmage.
Despite an afternoon session lurking ahead, every player brought his own intensity to the morning training.
"The whole idea is to make [the players] work hard," Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. "Obviously, it's different weather than in Columbus, so they have to adjust a little bit. We need to get our work done here, but I think everybody has a good attitude and they're working very hard."
"I think we had a good tempo," added second-year midfielder Ethan Finlay. "I think the whole preseason thus far has been high level, good energy. Obviously, just starting off the touches haven't been the cleanest yet. We're getting used to playing on the grass, which is great. Everyone from the trialists to the older guys like Chad [Marshall] and Eddie [Gaven] are working hard. It's good to have everyone working hard because it makes for an easier preseason."
In the aforementioned shooting drills, 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year Federico Higuaín impressed his teammates, coaches and Equipment Manager Rusty Wummel alike by hitting the back of the net from the top of the penalty area on nearly every attempt. After one goal, Wummel sunk to one knee to shine Higuaín's cleats as a celebration.
The Crew will take to the practice fields at IMG for its afternoon training around 4:00 p.m. ET.
2013 SuperDraft selection Ryan Finley has gained high praise and inspiration along the way from his friend and training partner, USWNT star Carli Lloyd. Ryan has trained with Carli since 2008 in New Jersey as Ryan moved up the ranks of college soccer. Below is an interview on WMCN-TV in Atlantic City, NJ talking about Ryan's rise to MLS.
Thursday began with the Black & Gold assembling at Crew Stadium to board a bus for Port Columbus International Airport in the frigid cold of the Midwest, and ended with a late afternoon training session in the dwindling sunlight of Brandenton, Fla. after few hours between flights and rest at the team hotel. The first practice of the Crew's preseason trip to IMG Academy consisted of light conditioning and a few possession drills.
"It was good to get off the plane, get your legs stretched out and get all the aches out from the turf yesterday," defender Josh Williams said after the session. "I think today was a relaxed day to get everybody out to meet everybody and have a little bit of fun with possession drills."
Thursday's training in Bradenton was a welcome change from the indoor start to the preseason in Columbus.
"It was good just to get off the turf," Williams said. "To come out and feel the grass, just the way the ball moves is a lot different than turf. The game moves a lot faster."
While a few spring invitees joined the team today and are fighting for a spot on the roster, players already under contract like Williams are working to solidify their spot in the Crew lineup during the trip to Bradenton.
"It's all about getting comfortable with your teammates and figuring out who's playing where," Williams explained. "There's still some guys who can play in different positions, like myself, but I think right now you want to come in with the attitude to win a position. For guys like myself who have only been around a couple of years, spots aren't guaranteed."
The Crew will train twice tomorrow before kicking off its first friendly of the preseason Saturday at 11 a.m. against D.C. United.
Wednesday was supposed to be a day off for Crew Homegrown midfielder Wil Trapp. After spending the past eight days in Puebla, Mexico at United States U-20 National Team where he also played all 90 minutes in two friendlies against Panama, a day of rest made sense for the 20-year-old MLS rookie upon returning to Columbus Tuesday evening.
"It's been a quick turnaround, but it's nice to get in with the team before we head down to Florida," Trapp said. "It's nice, I'm excited to get going.
"The layovers weren't the best and whenever you travel there's a little jetlag involved, but luckily the time difference wasn't too bad. I'm still young. I can handle it."
There was no pressure on Trapp from Technical Director Brian Bliss to attend Wednesday's training session in Lewis Center, who was surprised to see Trapp in the mix when he arrived.
"Anytime a National Team player returns from a camp and he's been taxed as they usually are with travel, training and games, you usually like to give them some time off," Bliss said. "Wil was eager to get after it and acclimate to his new teammates. He wanted to get right in there and mix it up with our guys and decided not to take that extra day off. With all the travel and the games he looked pretty sharp today."
Trapp will likely return to Puebla with the U-20s in February in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in an effort to qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.
"It was good to get used to the altitude down there because it's going to be the same for Qualifying," Trapp said. "We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish [in team camp]. The results weren't the best, but it happens.
"I think we're doing well. We have a few injuries, but I think everyone will be healthy to qualify and move on to the World Cup."
Trapp and the Crew will travel to Brandenton, Fla. on Thursday for their first preseason camp.
Crew striker Jairo Arrieta and Costa Rica completed group play in the 2013 Copa Centroamericana Tuesday night with a 1-1 draw against Guatemala. Arrieta tallied his second goal of the tournament in the 12th minute to help La Sele finish at the top of Group A.
The Ticos will resume play in the semifinal of the tournament against El Salvador on Friday. Costa Rica previously claimed a spot in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with its 2-0 win over Nicaragua on Sunday. Cities and venues for the 2013 Gold Cup will be announced on Wednesday.