Crew brave the elements in preparation for season opener
OBETZ, Ohio --
While the Crew enjoyed fun in the sun throughout most of the two preseason junkets to Florida they were smacked across the face with a cold dose of reality upon their return to Columbus this week: soccer and cold weather climates don't mix very well.
That's one of the reasons after only three full days in Ohio the team embarked Thursday for an 11-day trip to play the first two matches of the season.
"We'd like to spend more time on the field but because of the weather we couldn't," coach Robert Warzycha said to MLSsoccer.com following Thursday's practice that began with a coating of snow on the fields.
Bone-chilling cold and wet fields are not conducive to players wanting to stick around for extra work for fear of injury.
"Absolutely it's a disadvantage," Warzycha said. "Teams that train in California or a place like Houston have a better chance to prepare for the season because of the weather we have."
While the schedule favors the Crew from a weather standpoint by opening Saturday at Chivas USA followed by a game (indoor) at Vancouver on March 9, the team needed to stop in Columbus, however briefly, following the last preseason matches in Orlando on Saturday and North Carolina on Sunday.
"Even though we don't have our first home game until mid-March (16th) we're still training out here in late February" midfielder Eddie Gaven said. "You never know what you're going to get. It could be snow. It could be very windy and freezing cold."
The Crew had all that the past few days with 40-degree readings, grey skies, stiff winds and persistent rain punctuated by flurries at their Obetz training center.
"I'm not complaining," Warzycha said."It's just we're in Columbus and other teams, whether they are in D.C. or Boston, have the same problems."
The Crew does not have an indoor facility and the site it uses for early preseason training before heading to Florida does not have a full-sized field.
An option is to rent the on-campus, indoor practice facility for the Ohio State football team - the U.S. Men's National Team trained there prior to the World Cup qualifier at Crew Stadium vs. Mexico in February 2009 - but the Crew prefers not to unless the weather gets extreme.
"Being able to get out even though it's mushy and cold beats being indoors," a shivering Crew president Mark McCullers told MLSsoccer.com following Wednesday's practice.
After Saturday's match the Crew will train on The Home Depot Center fields in Carson, Calif., through March 7 before traveling to Vancouver.
Warzycha said the team would have probably stayed on the West Coast even if it had an indoor site available next week to deal with what is expected to be a continuation of the current weather pattern in Columbus.
"I don't think we would use it because that would be turf," he said. "I know we play on turf at Vancouver but that would be too many [days]. I'd rather stay in California and train on grass."