2014 Preseason: Bradenton, Day 5

Rookies working to improve; Veterans encouraging hard-work and optimism

With temperatures in the mid-40’s on Thursday, the Black & Gold completed their fifth training session. Before the Crew needs to selfishly and ironically ask Columbus to send them warm thoughts, thankfully the forecast calls for highs of 73 degrees on Friday and upwards of 81 on Saturday in Bradenton. 
 
As the team has worked on fitness, tactics and formation, the sessions have continued to build comradery. Audible encouragement from fellow players has steadily increased as each day has passed. 
 
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has stressed the following idea on countless occasions: each organized activity has a purpose. Day five continued to build off of that principle.  
 
ROOKIES WORKING TO ADJUST TO SPEED OF MLS

Crew rookie Homegrown Players Matt Walker and Ross Friedman know if they want to succeed like the four Crew Homegrowns Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Ben Speas and Wil Trapp in 2013 did on the field, they’ll be forced to adapt quickly to the speed of their fellow pros. 
 
“Although we’re only a few sessions into preseason, I would say the speed of play has been an expected and welcomed challenge,” said rookie Homegrown Player Matt Walker. 
 
“Obviously the balls moves much faster at this level so there has to be a heightened level of focus with every touch, which is something that I have been working on to improve day in and out,” Walker continued. 
 
For Friedman, the adapting and growing on the fly has been made easier by previous Homegrown exposure to Crew training sessions in the summer months. Even still, now in his first preseason camp as a pro, the expectations are that much higher when it comes to next-level, quality sessions. 
 
“I’ve been lucky having exposure to the team in the past. I’ve been in the last three summers with the team and have been pretty familiar with the guys,” said Friedman. “Fitness-wise, on the ball, everyone is trying to push things a little faster, to do things a little better, a little sharper.”  
 
PUTTING IN THE WORK AND STAYING POSITIVE 
 
Crew newcomer Daniel Paladini is no stranger to hard work and the grind of a professional soccer season and a preseason camp. The 29-year-old played two seasons in MLS and one in the PDL before two years in USL PRO and a second chance to return to the League.

Now in his ninth professional season, Paladini is with the Black & Gold took to Twitter following today’s session. 

Despite the hard work put in by the players during both the training portion and the fitness work thereafter, the process has been made easier by a steady dose of optimism from rostered guys 1-through-29 and the five un-signed preseason players.

 Combating negativity as a whole often makes the bonding process that much stronger through exhausting work. 
 
"I think with any team you put together you’re going to find some negative energy somewhere, but I’m just not seeing it here," said Eric Gehrig in an interview on Thursday with the Columbus Dispatch.

OTHER ODDS AND ENDS AFTER A HANDFUL OF SESSIONS 
 
Cornell defender Patrick Slogic participated in his first training session today as he works to fight for a roster spot. Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter told The Columbus Dispatch that changes to the roster in terms of additions or subtractions could happen in approximately two weeks. 
 
Kevan George celebrated his 24th birthday today. The team huddled up before the session opened and rendition of “Happy Birthday” rung out. Early reports were that Frankie Hejduk’s singing was the most enthusiastic. 

For those playing at home, George’s birthday is the only Black & Gold player birthday on this leg of preseason as the next Crew birthday comes on the second trip to Florida. On February 23 – one day after the Crew faces the Philadelphia Union in Orlando – Tyson Wahl is set to turn 30.