Preseason Preview: Crew vs. Orlando City SC
The Crew rounds out group play in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic against USL-Pro side Orlando City SC Saturday evening (6:00 p.m. ET/Stream). Despite back-to-back wins and facing a lower division opponent, Robert Warzycha will not be taking Saturdayt's match lightly as the Black & Gold prepares for their regular season opener on March 2 against Chivas USA.
"I'm expecting our team to work hard to create chances and win the game," the Head Coach said. "We have to respect [Orlando City]. They're the home team and they will have people behind them. I'm not going to say it's going to be a very, very difficult game, but it's going to be an important game for us."
In Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, Warzycha started and played his second-unit players for 60 minutes while most of the typical starters played the final 30 minutes against the Union. The Crew skipper expects to get more out of starters on Saturday against Orlando City.
"We're building [fitness] up for our first game against Chivas USA he explained. "I think tomorrow against Orlando City [the starters] will play a little bit more than last time."
The Black & Gold will play one more match in Orlando and the Kirk Urso Memorial Match in Greensboro, NC before flying to Los Angeles on February 28 to face Chivas USA the following weekend.
FINLEY IN RELIEF
With Jairo Arrieta back in the fold after spending four weeks with the Costa Rican National Team, rookie striker Ryan Finley will likely move to the bench after starting the first five preseason matches of 2013.
Coming off the bench is nothing new for the rookie. In two seasons at Notre Dame, Finley scored 28 goals despite never starting a single match.
With the departure of Emilio Rentería in the offseason, Finley will likely be the first option in relief of Arrieta.
"[Finley] is a player who is very opportunistic, creates and makes good runs," Warzycha said. "I'm sure he is going to be a perfect fit for us."
The style of play in MLS can be quite an adjustment from the college game, but Finley seems to be adapting just fine. He scored his first goal of the preseason on Wednesday against Philadelphia.
"I think the game is obviously a lot quicker and faster," the rookie explained. "The guys are bigger, stronger, faster and smarter. I need to adapt to that and I think the coaching staff and the other guys have been great with helping me with little tips and things. It's just a learning process. Every practice, you just have bring it every day and give 100-percent."
"It's different for everybody," Warzycha added. "I'm sure it will be a challenge for him, but he's going to score as many goals as he possibly can. He's very opportunistic and I'm sure he'll score goals.
"If he plays like he is playing right now, he's going to get his chances."
DEFENSE GETTING IT DONE
On November 26, the Crew had four defenders on its roster: Chad Marshall, Josh Williams, Eric Gehrig and Danny O'Rourke, who can play defense or defensive midfield. With new additions Tyson Wahl, Chad Barson, Agustín Viana, Gláuber and Drew Beckie, the Black & Gold has improved in front of net so far this preseason by outscoring opponents 8-3.
Despite the success so far, Warzycha would still like to see improvement before March 2.
"The results show that we're playing good defensive soccer, but there are some things that we need to work on some more," the Head Coach said. "The communication has to be better. I think the game against Orlando is going to be perfect for us to work on those things."