OBETZ, Ohio – The Columbus Crew trained Tuesday just as they did last week, but after getting eliminated from the playoffs last Saturday, they did so with a different mind set.
“We obviously wanted to be working toward the next step, which would have been the Eastern Conference Final,” defender Eric Brunner said, “but that’s how it goes.”
Three days after losing the conference semifinal to the Colorado Rapids in a penalty-kick shootout, Columbus were back at work despite the fact that their next game won’t be until late February, when they face Real Salt Lake in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get past the first round the last two years, but that doesn’t mean we’re not to come back even after the loss and work on some things,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “You can still work on the technical side of things.
“[The subject is] very sensitive right now, but they have a good attitude,” he added. “They’re still working. They want to get better.”
Warzycha added that another reason to train is to keep possible national-team candidates sharp.
[inline_node:315580]Midfielder Robbie Rogers and defender Chad Marshall could be called upon by US coach Bob Bradley for the national team's match against South Africa on Nov. 17. (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2 & Galavisión)
Rookie left back Shaun Francis could also be summoned by Jamaica, and Emilio Renteria could receive a call from Venezuela, though that is a long shot because the forward underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 29.
“We’re helping some of the guys called into the national team to keep that competitive edge,” Brunner said. “[We’re also helping] ourselves out so we don’t have a long layoff.”
Brunner added that because there is no more pressure now that the team is out of the playoffs, training is fun and “not as super-serious as if we were training for the conference final.”
The players will undergo postseason physicals and meetings with the coaching staff next week before going their separate ways.
They are expected to report back Jan. 20 to prepare for the Champions League.