Crew Notes: Squad finally healthy, but not at full strength
When the Crew took to the artificial turf at Ohio Dominican University on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, there was something different besides the training venue.
Nobody sat out because of injuries, and the only player who did not participate in the full workout was midfielder Tony Tchani, who is recovering from knee surgery. Otherwise, it was the first time this season all available players practiced.
“It’s a good sign. It’s a good time of the year to have that,” defender Chad Marshall said.
The only players missing were defender Julius James (Trinidad & Tobago) and Emmanuel Ekpo (Nigeria) because of national team commitments.
Marshall was sidelined last week because of a left ankle sprain, but the captain is eyeing Saturday’s match at New England.
“I’m OK,” he said. “I’m hoping I’ll be ready if I can get through this week of training. We’ll see.”
The bigger question is if the right hamstring of midfielder Robbie Rogers is sufficiently healed after he missed the last match against D.C. United on Oct. 2.
“It’s not 100 percent yet. It’s too early to tell,” Rogers said.
Rogers and Marshall are questionable on this week’s injury list along with forward Tommy Heinemann (lower back strain), midfielder Danny O'Rourke (left knee soreness) and defender Rich Balchan (abdominal strain), but they all went through the entire workout on Wednesday.
While that might indicate the Crew are healthy, coach Robert Warzycha has a different definition of what it means to be at full strength.
“They’re going to be healthy, but are they going to be 90-minutes fit?” he said. “A healthy team is 90-minutes fit.
“You can have all the guys available, but it would be tough to put Chad, Robbie, Heinemann, [Emilio] Rentería, Danny O’Rourke, Eddie Gaven and other guys out there at the same time because you never know if they are going to finish the game. That’s going to be the dilemma, who you put on the field.”
Factoring into his lineup decision for Saturday is having the game on turf at Gillette Stadium. Warzycha will have to decide if the added strain of playing on the fake grass will be harmful for Rogers or if it would be better to save him for the season finale at Chicago on Oct. 22.
The Crew were scheduled to train on Ohio Dominican’s turf field Thursday, but morning rains on the grass fields at the Obetz facility prompted Warzycha to move Wednesday’s practice there as well.
“It’s an advantage, overall, to practice here,” goalkeeper William Hesmer said. “Every turf field is a little different, whether they’re wet or dry. It helps us acclimate to it and figure out some bounces, so we’re not surprised in warm ups and the first five minutes of the game.”