Preview: Young players look to embrace opportunity against Wigan Athletic

Black & Gold set to welcome FA Cup champion

Ethan Finlay

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Photos

With a break in MLS play following last week's 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers, the Crew will face a different task in hosting reigning FA Cup champion Wigan Athletic in an international friendly (7:30 p.m. ET / TICKETS). Though the exhibition will be without consequence in the Black & Gold's effort to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs, the club will take the field with the same importance as any other match.

"Last year (against Stoke City), we took it very seriously and won 2-1," second-year winger Ethan Finlay said. "It's a good opportunity for guys to showcase what they can do and their ability. Everyone is going to be watching.

"It's super important. We always want to win. We want to make a habit of winning. Coming off a quite a few losses and then a win against Portland, a win on Saturday would be a good momentum swing to start the second half of the season."

Younger players often see increased minutes in international friendlies, giving them a chance to impress their coaches against European competition. Last season, Homegrown forwards Aaron Horton and Ben Speas seized the opportunity by scoring their first professional goals to help the Crew to a 2-1 victory over English Premier League side Stoke City.

For Finlay and other young players, Saturday's match is a chance to earn more First Team minutes with a strong performance against the FA Cup champions.

"It's a good opportunity to get into the starting lineup," Finlay explained. "We had a lot of changes over the weekend in the Portland game and had some success there. It's a good opportunity to show up on an international level, as well as to our fans."

Added goalkeeper Matt Lampson: "We all relish the opportunity to play. We want to get the opportunity to show what we can do and whenever we get that chance, especially against a great opponent like Wigan, you love to take it. Hopefully we can gain some valuable experience to make us better players."

Saturday's friendly is the ninth match the Crew will play against an English club. The Black & Gold are 3-3-2 with wins against Leeds United, Fulham and Stoke City in the club's history.