Versatile Finlay adjusts to new role as forward

Rookie steps up in time of need for Black & Gold

Crew rookie Ethan Finlay doesn't care where he plays, he's just wants to help his team win.

The tenth overall pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft has featured in every match this season for the Black & Gold, mostly on the wing. Due to the injuries of forwards Tom Heinemann, Olman Vargas, and Aaron Schoenfeld, Finlay was head coach Robert Warzycha's top option left to start in the attack against Portland last week.

"It was a difficult test. (Portland) is a tough place to play, but it was fun. I enjoyed playing up top," Finlay reflected Tuesday. "I thought we created some chances, and I just tried to work hard up there because that's what (Warzycha) want me to do- cause havoc and be a pest for the back line."

Finlay's willingness to play in either the midfield or as a second forward has been a luxury for Warzycha.

"When you're a young player, you have to be happy with whatever position you have on the field," Warzycha explained. "Wherever the team is going to need (Finlay), we have the luxury to plug him in whether we need him in front or we need him on the side, he wouldn't mind to play."

Playing forward isn't completely foreign to Finlay. He played the position at various times throughout his college career at Creighton, but noted there was a bit of a learning curve playing the position in MLS.

"(Playing as a forward) was a big adjustment, I just think with my responsibilities and where I was going to have to be defensively and know my role. I've played the position before, so I kind of have an idea," the rookie admitted.

After Vargas and Schoenfeld left with injuries in the April 28 match against Vancouver, Finlay got his first taste of playing forward against former US National Team starter Jay DeMerit.

"I got used to the (defender) being on your back and having big defenders and trying to find the spaces in between them to get the ball," Finlay said of his 33 minutes as a forward against Whitecaps FC. "That was a good little glimpse of it and that week of training, I got a good look of how it would feel to be up top."

In the week of training that followed, Finlay was forced to quickly build chemistry with his attack partner Emilio Renteria before last week's match against Portland.

"Playing with Emilio (Renteria), with such short time, we knew it was going to be difficult (against Portland), but I think we did an alright job communicating," the rookie said. "The more and more I get to see how he kind of plays, I just try to play off of him. Obviously he's an international, seasoned vet, so the more I can learn from and learn his movements, it will help me."

With Vargas and Schoenfeld still sidelined, Finlay will look to get his second consecutive start this week as the Crew hosts FC Dallas (7:30 EST/ FOXSports Ohio). The rookie hopes to help end the Black & Gold's current 196 minute scoring drought.

"Obviously, with all the injuries, we're looking for answers. Hopefully we can start answering with some goals because that's really the key. A 0-0 result (against Portland) is good, but we need to start scoring some goals. Hopefully that will change in the near future."