LEWIS CENTER, Ohio – As Bernardo Anor hammered in three straight services during a drill Friday, the second-year Crew midfielder showed the confidence that was lacking at times in his rookie season.
The Venezuelan-born Anor hit a high mark June 18 in his first start by scoring and adding an assist in a 2-0 win at Houston. But then he disappeared for most of the rest of the season, due both to an ankle injury and his approach to the game.
“Mostly everything that happened was because of my mentality,” the University of South Florida product told MLSsoccer.com recently. “I need to be tougher mentally so I can do all that I am capable on the field. After that [Houston] game, I felt good then I got injured. It takes a little bit to recover and get back in shape.”
Anor, 21, missed the three games prior to the Dynamo match because of a left ankle sprain and was sidelined four more games in September. Otherwise, he was used sparingly. His points at Houston were his only ones for the season in 13 games (six starts) totaling 640 minutes.
“Everybody has ups and downs,” he said. “Hopefully this year I will progress. If I get down, I will keep my head up and work hard.”
He comes into the 2012 season knowing there is an opening on the wing with the departure of Robbie Rogers and in the middle because Emmanuel Ekpo will not be back.
“I’m focusing right now on doing my thing,” Anor said. “If the coaches like what they see, they’ll give me the opportunity. I want to win the spot. I want to be starting.”
Even though some of his challengers for minutes this season include rookies such as Ethan Finlay and Ben Speas, he has eagerly welcomed all newcomers.
“Last year, I wanted to be treated like everybody else,” Anor said. “I didn’t want to be called a rookie. Everybody is the same, so I’m treating the rookies like I wanted everybody to treat me my first year.”
Midfielder Dilly Duka returned from US U-23 camp and trained Friday. Emilio Rentería arrived from the Venezuela national team and worked out on a treadmill. Costa Rican forward Olmán Vargas will practice with the Crew for the first time Monday.
Preseason games are scheduled in Bradenton, Fla., for Feb. 4 and 8 vs. Swedish first-division side Malmö FF and Feb. 15 against Seattle Sounders FC. The Malmö website does not list the first game and Crew coach Robert Warzycha said Friday that Columbus may have to find another club.
“It’s probably too early to make this observation, but I think so far, everybody collectively seems to be working harder than last year. In training last year, some guys would go through the motions and weren’t into it. It doesn’t seem like that this year, which is obviously a positive.”
— midfielder Cole Grossman on his second season with the Crew