Preseason Preview: Crew vs. Toronto FC
The Crew will face Trillium Cup rival Toronto FC Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m./ LIVE STREAM) at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Fla. Unlike the Black & Gold's first three matches of the 2013 preseason, Head Coach Robert Warzycha will have a few new weapons at his disposal in Orlando.
This week was been full of new additions for Warzycha's club. Brazilian defender Gláuber arrived in Crew camp on Monday after being signed on January 22, the club acquired speedy forward Dominic Oduro from the Chicago Fire on Monday and signed Argentine midfielder Matías Sánchez on Friday.
Warzycha expects all three newcomers to see action on Saturday.
"They just got here, so I don't think they'll play 90 minutes, but we'll play them as much as we can," Warzycha said via phone call on Friday. "We're obviously going to closely monitor their time, but at some point they're going to be on the field."
The Crew has gone through a dramatic overhaul since the club's 2012 season ended on October 28. The Black & Gold parted ways with 11 players from last season's roster, while adding eight players thus far in 2013. The addition of Sánchez may be one of the final pieces of the puzzle.
"We've added some very important pieces to our team," Warzycha explained. "We only had 17 players on our team when preseason started on January 17. We worked hard to find and bring in players that we think can contribute and make our team better."
"I think we've brought in quality players," Warzycha continued. "I hope they perform to their abilities. We will be very competitive this year."
ODURO BUILDING CHEMISTRY
Dominic Oduro met up with his new club in Orlando on the heels of scoring one goal and adding an assist in two preseason matches with the Chicago Fire. After only two days of training with the Black & Gold, the Ghanaian forward feels like things are starting to click with his new team.
"It's an ongoing process," Oduro said on Friday. "The chemistry is building so far. I know [Tony] Tchani, so I've already got a chemistry with him. As for the other guys on the field, I don't think we've found the right combination yet, but everybody has been staying positive. We'll get there as the weeks go by and we continue to build chemistry."
The speedy striker joins the Crew after scoring 18 goals in the past two seasons with the Fire. Oduro's focus on Saturday will be to continue to build on-field relationships with his new teammates. If that happens, Oduro says the goals will come.
"Right now, I'm just trying to focus on getting in the right condition and playing with my teammates," Oduro said. "If that happens and I'm able to generate that, I think the goals will come. Once we find the right combination, we'll find that right spacing for a through ball to score."
OUGHTON FACES AN OLD FRIEND
Saturday's match will be the debut of new Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen. The 35-year-old Nelsen played his final match for Barclays Premier League side Queens Park Rangers on January 30, anchoring the QPR backline to a 0-0 draw against defending champion Manchester City.
Less than two weeks later, Nelsen will make his debut on the sideline against the Crew and close friend Duncan Oughton. Nelsen and Oughton played together throughout the past decade on the New Zealand National Team.
"Obviously it's no secret with his body, he's been playing a long time and it's tough. I think it's a lot safer for him coaching on the sideline than it is being out on the field. Some of the talent he's been playing against is hard on the joints and things," Oughton joked.
The Crew Assistant Coach continued: "It's going to be a little weird. We're pretty close and tomorrow being a preseason match, there will be no love lost for sure and we'll go to battle for 90 minutes and afterward we'll probably share a joke and punch each other."
Toronto FC has failed to make the playoffs since joining Major League Soccer as an expansion side in the 2007 season. Oughton believes his fellow Kiwi will change the Reds' fortune.
"[Nelsen] was a fantastic professional as a player," Oughton explained. "He's a leader of men. He's been coached by some of the best managers in the world. He's an intelligent guy and I think he'll take that knowledge that's he's learned from his past managers with his ability to lead men and he'll translate that into Toronto FC."
"I don't think it's going to be a quick process for him. I think it's going to take quite a bit of time as he gets to know his players and he gets to know the League better and better. I think if there is anyone who can turn that organization around, he's a great choice to do it because he has the respect as a player. I know personally from having played with him on the New Zealand National Team that he really does know the game well. He did a lot of help coaching with the National Team and he's just a great leader," Oughton finished.