2014 Preseason, Bradenton: Day 1
ONE IN THE BOOKS
After managing to sneak out of the snowstorms that rocked Columbus, the Black & Gold arrived in Bradenton, Fla. on Sunday for the first of 13 days of training in The Sunshine State.
Light rain fell in the early afternoon but clearer skies prevailed – with temperatures in the mid 60’s -- ahead of the first training session of 2014 and the first under new Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
“I thought it was good, we wanted to ease into it,” said Berhalter on his inaugural session leading the team. After a busy stretch since his hiring on November 6 until the first practice, Berhalter finally had the chance to step onto the training ground at the IMG Academy and begin workouts.
“The guys showed a lot of enthusiasm and it was just great to get them on the field,” continued Berhalter.
With the Crew’s Opening Match on March 8 at D.C. United circled in red on the calendar, Berhalter noted that the first trip to Florida is scheduled to see the team key-in on fitness and overall strategy in the two weeks of camp in Bradenton before a week of training in Columbus and the beginning of a second trip to Florida at Orlando (February 15 – March 2).
“We want to build volume in terms of our fitness. We want to go over large tactical ideas,” said Berhalter. “As we get into our second trip, we’ll start fine-tuning it.”
FIGHTING FOR A SPOT
As preseason gets underway, new players and returning veterans are set to spend the first two weeks staking their claim for their place and role on the team. In addition to the 29 players under contract, four additional un-signed players are presently in camp working to try to earn a roster spot. That group includes SuperDraft picks Ben Sweat, Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden and Adam Bedell as well as 2013 team member Konrad Warzycha.
Crew defender Michael Parkhurst is on U.S. Men’s National Team duty presently as the Crew newcomer departed for California camp following entrance physicals in Columbus.
NEW LOOK TO FAMILIAR FACES; NEW GUYS GET NEW GEAR
As is common upon the start of a new season, with additions and departures, several players are scheduled to don different jersey numbers for the upcoming campaign.
Dominic Oduro’s Black & Gold jersey will now have a number 8 on the back of it. The Ghanaian switched back to his old number 8 that he wore before his arrival to Columbus ahead of 2013. His former Chicago teammate and now a fellow Crew player, Daniel Paladini is set to wear the 11 kit.
Also returning to the club and making a wardrobe change, the club’s Designated Player, Federico Higuain now puts on the number 10 jersey after wearing the number 33 jersey in his first two seasons with the Crew.
As Crew players put on their training gear for the first time in 2014, several rostered newcomers were issued jersey numbers that were previous listed as TBD.
Homegrown Players Matt Walker (#33), Ross Friedman (#27) and Matt Wiet (#31) round-out a Crew roster of Homegrown talent that includes Chad Barson, Matt Lampson, Wil Trapp and Ben Speas – all four keeping the same numbers worn in 2013.
Newcomers finding themselves with a heap of issue gear included Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark with the number 1 jersey, defender Michael Parkhurst receiving the number 4 shirt while Waylon Francis now wears number 5. Hector Jimenez will wear number 12 while goalkeeper Brad Stuver has selected to wear number 41.
Four other players that are currently in camp, but remain un-signed, have been issued numbers for the first leg of preseason. Ben Sweat will wear number 22, Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden will wear the number 30, Adam Bedell will wear number 29 and Konrad Warzycha will wear number 19 as he did when a member of the Crew in 2013.