The Crew dropped to 0-1-1 in the preseason after a 2-1 loss Tuesday to the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps in Arizona. But the result is of no concern to head coach Robert Warzycha.
“Obviously we’re trying to win games, but winning the games right now is not the most important thing for us,” he said. “What we’re doing right now is just working for fitness.”
Vancouver took the lead in the 62nd minute on a goal by Atiba Harris. Eddie Gaven drew and converted a penalty in the 76th minute to tie the score for the Crew, but the winner came a minute later by 2011 SuperDraft overall first pick Omar Salgado.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we gave up the goals, but everybody tried to play hard,” Warzycha said, noting that the Crew were one step behind at the onset because the Whitecaps had played one more game and were adjusted to game pace better. “They were a little quicker, to be honest with you."
Trialist goalkeeper Ray Burse played the first half for the Crew and stopped a penalty kick in the 41st minute. He and Caleb Patterson-Sewell have split both games while roster ‘keepers William Hesmer and Andy Gruenebaum recover from injuries.
[inline_node:321030]Hesmer was allowed full contact Tuesday for the first time since separating his right shoulder Oct. 24 and, according to Warzycha, felt good. Gruenebaum is still rehabbing a hip/groin problem in Columbus.
Warzycha said other 'keepers are expected to come to camp and that neither Burse nor Patterson-Sewell are guaranteed a spot when the Crew face Real Salt Lake on Feb. 22 in a CONCACAF Champions League match.
“We will bring more [‘keepers] in,” Warzycha said. “We’re not going to sign a guy just to sign him.”
The Crew started a core of returnees along with newcomers Burse, right back Sebastián Miranda, forward Jeff Cunningham and the Crew’s top 2011 draftee, midfielder Rich Balchan.
“We have a game in two weeks so we’re trying to put two or three new players in every time we start a game,” Warzycha said. “We were different against Kansas City last week. We play Seattle next and we’re going to be a little bit different, too. We’re trying to find the [right] combinations.”
Of Balchan, Warzycha said, “It was the first time he played with this group. The first 10 minutes he was a little bit shaky, but he adjusted pretty well.”
The Crew play Seattle on Thursday in Phoenix.
VAN – Atiba Harris, 62’
CLB – Eddie Gaven (pk), 76’
VAN – Omar Salgado (Harris), 77’
Columbus – first 45 minutes: Ray Burse, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Shaun Francis, Robbie Rogers, Rich Balchan, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, Emilio Renteria, Jeff Cunningham
Columbus – second 45 minutes: Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Ben Sippola (Cory Elenio, 73’), Kwaku Nyamekye, Alex Fraga, Josh Williams, Eddie Gaven (Santiago Prim, 89’), Kevin Burns (Cole Grossman, 71’), Dejan Rusmir, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram, Andy Adlard (Leandre Griffit, 72’)
Vancouver: Jay Nolly, Alain Rochat, Michael Boxall (Bilal Duckett, 63’), Greg Janicki (Jay Demerit, 76’), Jonathan Leathers (Wes Knight, 59’), Nizar Khalfan (Kyle Porter, 46’), Gershon Koffie (John Thorrington, 76’), Terry Dunfield, Shea Salinas (Philippe Davies, 70’), Davide Chiumiento (Atiba Harris, 46’), Long Tan (Omar Salgado, 59’)