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.
In some post-training banter on Monday, Crew captain Chad Marshall jokingly asked Tony Tchani to talk in his best American accent.
"Hey mate!" Tchani exclaimed jokingly with his distinct French inflection.
While Tchani's accent sets him appart, the Cameroonian-born midfielder is now an official American citizen. Tchani moved to the U.S. with his mother as a teenager and recently passed his citizenship exam to officially attain a United States passport last week.
Tchani was given studying materials beforehand, but the test to become a U.S. citizen came easy to the 23-year-old midfielder.
"They gave me a book of like 100 practice questions and I was supposed to get six out of 10 right," Tchani said. "I got the first six right and they told me it was over. I got a sheet saying 'Congratulations.' "
It is official!! #ThankGod
— Tony Tchani (@TonyTchani23) January 15, 2013
Tchani is in his second full season with the Crew and his fourth in MLS.
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) January 22, 2013
#Crew96 gets a Brazilian. Pretty smooth, Bliss.
— MassiveCity (@MassiveCityFFC) January 22, 2013
With Glauber paired with Chad Marshall in the central defense, Josh Williams to right back and Danny O'Rourke to d-mid. #crew96
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) January 22, 2013
Crew signs Brazilian defender Gláuber. 29-year-old centerback was playing for Rapid Bucharest of Romania's top division ow.ly/h1rg5
— Hot Time In Old Town (@HotTimeOldTown) January 22, 2013
— Kevin Walter (@walter4dublin) January 22, 2013
Personally, I can't wait to see how Glauber does. I think he could do very well in MLS. #Crew96
— Alex Stanek (@Ratzaroony) January 22, 2013
After seeing #Crew96 sign a new player today, an after the draft last week, I'm so damn excited for March 16 when I get to c the Crew again!
— James Key (@jbkeysportsfan) January 22, 2013
Glaubert Berti once tweaked his Harley to give it 4 wheel drive. #crew96
— Adam Kincaid (@AdamKincaid1) January 22, 2013
FOX: Columbus Crew signs Brazilian defender - The Columbus Crew has signed Brazilian defender Glauber Leandro Honora... ow.ly/2upIu4
— ESPN970WFUN (@ESPN970WFUN) January 22, 2013
*Breaking Transfer News* Columbus Crew have signed an absolute legend in Glauber Berti #legend
— Simon Wood (@simonwood123) January 22, 2013
MLS Ticker: Silvestre on trial with Timbers, Crew sign Glauber, and more: bit.ly/Vo772j
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 22, 2013
— Matt Goshert (@mattgoshert) January 22, 2013
Glauber Berti's calender goes from March 31st to April 2nd because nobody fools Berti. #Crew96
— Hudson St. Hooligans (@HSHCrew) January 22, 2013
Crew have signed Brazilian defender Gláuber Leandro Honorato Berti. Can't wait for The Thing themed TIFO. #It'sGlauberingTime!
— Yellow Nation Army (@YellowNatArmy) January 22, 2013
Costa Rica solidified its place in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-0 win against Nicaragua on Sunday night. Crew striker Jairo Arrieta entered the match as a 66th minute substitute on Sunday after providing the difference-maker in Friday's 1-0 victory over Belize.
With the win, La Sele sits atop Group A in Copa Centroamericano. The TIcos will complete group play Tuesday night against second-place Guatemala.
MATCH REPORT: Costa Rica 2 - Nicaragua 0
Costa Rica kicked off play in the 2013 Copa Centroamericano late Friday night, with Crew striker Jairo Arrieta providing the difference in the host country's 1-0 victory over Belize. Arrieta's 55th minute tally was his first goal for La Sele in five career caps.
The Ticos will resume play in the tournament on Sunday against Nicaragua. Copa Centroamericano runs until January 27 and the top five teams in the seven-team tournament qualify for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. However, Arrieta may not report to Crew training camp at that point as La Sele begins the Hexagonal round of 2014 World Cup Qualifying in Panama on February 6.
Match Report: Costa Rica 1 - Belize 0 (in Spanish)
Photo Credit: Imagenesencostarica.com
— Cody Sharrett (@CodySharrett) January 17, 2013
#Crew96 new player Ryan Finley bringing 56 College goals and 14 assists...not to shabby!
— Duncan Oughton (@Oughton8) January 17, 2013
— Mark McCullers (@CrewPrez) January 17, 2013
— Columbus Crew (@ColumbusCrew) January 17, 2013
— Chad M. Moon (@This_is_CMM) January 17, 2013
— TheSoccerObserver (@SoccerObserver) January 17, 2013
— OC Nor'easters (@oceancityfc) January 17, 2013
— Fred (@Theretofore) January 17, 2013
Common answer among #crew96 technical staff regarding Ryan Finley: they love his nose for the goal.
— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) January 17, 2013
— PDA Soccer (@PDASoccer) January 17, 2013